Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fun With Formats

Technology is something that both excites me and infuriates me. If you had told me 5-10 years ago that I would have a device that would browse the web, take pictures, send those pictures along with messages almost instantly anywhere in the world, post text and photos to a 'blog, keep track of appointments, make phone calls and fit in the pocket of my pants I would have said you were crazy. As technology races forward and shrinks faster than we can update, however, I continue to look at the steady stream of gadgets with childlike amazement.

There is a flip side, though: the business. The people making these gadgets and gizmos need to make a living. They would like to make a really good living. Who wouldn't? Often, however, making good products is not enough. Sometimes companies take the tactic of making their product incompatible with devices from other manufacturers. In this way, if the consumer wants to benefit from their multiple devices' interoperability they must buy devices exclusively from that company.

A good example is the company which I'll refer to as The Big "S". In a world which already had MMC, Smart Media, Compact Flash and possibly others, The Big "S" decided that the best course of action would be to make their own proprietary memory format. This would keep others from using that format in their devices and, at least initially, force consumers to buy from them at prices a good deal higher than other media formats. Whats worse, they followed up with at least a couple of other proprietary formats before they lost my attention. Now even their previous customers need to update to their current format.

What's worse, the fun isn't even limited to flash media. Recently, to a chorus of raspberries from reviewers and consumers alike, they announced their newest digital audio player. Instead of using the fairly universally accepted MP3 format it uses,
you guessed it, a proprietary audio format. I think I smell an online music store in the works. Smells like... Big "S".

Quit it, Big "S". I'm not buying into these proprietary formats no matter how cool your products are.

And another thing... Yes, I still remember that VCR thing from the '80s. What was it called? Alpha? Gamma? Lambda?


At 12:26 PM, Blogger malfunction54 said...

Preach it, man! I've never bought a product from Big S that requires a proprietary format. I just don't get it. You'd think at some level someone over there would think, "gee, maybe we'd get *even more* sales if we used standard formats. The memory shaft, er stick, thing is just ridiculous. Especially as quickly as these formats change.


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