1497: New Products
This comic points out an apparent paradox in product performance: Many products that are criticized by techies when first announced go on to great success, and many that are heavily hyped are total flops. The product in question may be a reference to the Apple Watch, which was announced around the time of this comic's release.
|If they say...||Explanation||Example|
|"It doesn't do anything new"||A product that "doesn't do anything new" may still be successful for a variety of reasons. It may in fact do something new that the engineers and programmers are overlooking, or it may simply be a better presentation of an older idea. This latter category is the completion of the life-cycle mentioned later in the comic, those products whose "ideas will show up in something successful."||iPod|
|"Why would anyone want that?"||If engineers and programmers can't figure out why anyone would want a product, that may actually be because the applications are highly avant-garde or niche. Although then it would never become a big success! Engineers and programmers themselves may be in a niche that doesn't share the tastes and priorities of non-technical people, and are therefore unable to understand and accurately assess the appeal that a product will have to the masses.||iPad, Twitter|
|"Really exciting"||Products that are "really exciting" to engineers and programmers, so much so that they have already pre-ordered them, may fail to succeed for two reasons.
First, the product may have flaws that techies consider unimportant, but matter to the general public. These may include bad marketing (the masses don't hear about or "get" how good the product is), an unintuitive design or implementation (which more technical users may be able to "live with", but regular people may not be able or willing), or something as simple as a lack of aesthetics (which decreases appeal for use by owners and may temper the fervor which might otherwise encourage further sales).
Alternately, the product could turn out to be "nerd bait," so to speak. The developers promise a cool, groundbreaking new gadget or service, and people get so excited by the idea that they ignore whether or not it's actually feasible. When the developers can't follow through, unsurprisingly, the product flops. The ideas that it proposed, which were so intriguing to the programmers and the developers, will be worth billions once someone can figure out how to realize them.
|"I've already preordered one"||myIDkey|
|"Wait, are you talking about <unfamiliar person's name>'s new project?"||If a product's developer's name is well-known among engineers and programmers, but not among the general public, that's usually not a good sign. Quite likely, the developer is someone who goes a step farther than those in the previous category, not just announcing something cool and exciting they can't follow through on, but doing so knowing that they can't follow through yet still taking people's money. The state may press criminal charges against them (for fraud or such), or the angry investors may sue to get their money back.||Shawn Fanning|
|"I would never put <company> in charge of managing my <whatever>"||If engineers' and programmers' only objection is that they don't like the company behind the product, that's basically a tacit admission that there's nothing else wrong with it. For the average consumer, the perks of a groundbreaking new product outweigh whatever problems they may have with the company behind it. This category also relates to the numerous privacy concerns raised about the devices and software of certain companies, and the way people tend to get riled up about these issues and then forget about them once it becomes too inconvenient. For instance, a few months ago, in the aftermath of Facebook releasing its Messenger app, it would not be uncommon to hear people say "I would never put Facebook in charge of managing my network connectivity/phone calls/camera". However, 6 months later and barely anyone is complaining anymore, and within another year or so even the most hardline of privacy advocates will probably give in.||take your pick|
The title text imagines a product that fits into the second and third category and makes reference to the fourth category: "Wait, is that Kim Dotcom's new project? [= third category]. I'm really excited about it and already signed up. [= both options from the second category]. Although I'm a little nervous about whether everyone should hand over control of their medical... [= fourth category reference]."
Kim Dotcom is a controversial entrepreneur and convicted fraud. He even changed his surname to Dotcom because of the dot.com stock market bubble that made him a millionaire. He fits perfectly into the mould of someone well-known to programmers and engineers, but perhaps not so much to your average Joe.
Taken together, these imply that an untrustworthy and potentially malicious company has an exciting new idea that may eventually come out in successful form, but ultimately result in law suits not just from investors but from mislead consumers (category 3). Because the initial release will be a flop (category 2), there is some time to prepare before the successful use of this idea becomes a reality (also category 2). Once this happens you could expect dramatic repercussions and this is why the title text suggests to dig a bunker while there is still time.
- Predicting the success or
- failure of a new product
- based on what engineers and
- programmers are saying about it
- [A two-column table illustrating this. The headings are actually standing above the table.]
If they say... It means... "It doesn't do anything new" The product will be
a gigantic success.
"Why would anyone want that?" "Really exciting" The product will be a flop.Years later, its ideas will
show up in something successful.
"I've already preorded one" "Wait, are you talking about<unfamiliar person's name>'s
The product could bea scam and may result
in arrests or lawsuits.
"I would never put<company> in charge of
managing my <whatever>."
Within five years, they will.
- There is a typo in the comic: "Preorded" should have been "preordered".
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