When Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 smartphone, it did so with the promise of Quickflix and Foxtel Go coming very soon. But we’re still waiting… and this highlights a key way that I evaluate products, and a way that more people should think about them when buying.
Adam Turner over at the SMH has written up the issues around access to both Quickflix and Foxtel Go for Galaxy S4 owners who were promised speedy access.
So, you know, go and read it now. As I usually say right about now.
You know what things brings to mind for me, though? One of the most common criticisms I face if I’m not absolutely glowing about somebody’s pet passion — be it Windows Phones, Blackberry phones, iPhones, Android phones or rotating hovering lawnmowers — is that I’ve ignored the “potential”.
“Oh, you ignored the fact that there’s a firmware update coming which fixes ALL THE BUGS. The vendor said so, and you’re clearly BIASED AND A TERRIBLE REVIEWER FOR NOT NOTICING THIS!”
That could almost be a direct quote, by the way; I’ve heard it a hundred times. The thing is, nobody launches a product with a glum little statement that it’s simply OK. Every product is hyped, hyped and then given an extra layer of patented hype-polish before being hyped just one more time for good luck.
Vendors make promises about their products all the time, but often they’re what the legalese at the bottom of stock market reports refer to as “forward looking statements”. That is, stuff that they don’t yet do, but plan to implement.
Except plans change… or never eventuate at all. That’s why I always try to evaluate products based on precisely what they can do right now, not on what’s promised down the line. It’s well worth keeping an eye on what’s promised because that’s future potential, but the reality is that if you lay down your dollars now, what are you actually getting?
To provide a recent Fat Duck Tech example, the Pivos XIOS DS Play! might be an excellent device in a year’s time with some serious firmware updating to address its stability and networking issues. When I tested it, however, it most certainly wasn’t, and if you bought into that ecosystem, that’s what you’d get right now. It might be all you ever get.
So what’s the practical upshot if you’re buying technology? Promises of future features are all well and good, but they’re only promises, and those things can (and often are) broken. Buy on the basis of what it can do right now and you won’t be disappointed, merely delighted if it suddenly gets better six months down the track. Buy on the basis of what “may” happen, and you’re opening up a long waiting period and possible disappointment. Don’t blame me if that happens, and don’t be surprised if I review what I’ve got, not what might be.