Friday, October 26, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Problem with Facebook and Virtual Reality

Ben Thompson:

Anything made by Facebook is necessarily biased towards being accessible by everyone, which is a problem when creating a new market. Before technology is mature integrated products advance more rapidly, and can be sold at a premium; it follows that market makers are more likely to have hardware-based business models that segment the market, not service-based ones that try and reach everyone.

To that end, it is hard to not feel optimistic about Apple’s chances at eventually surpassing Oculus and everyone else. The best way to think about Apple has always been as a personal computer company; the only difference over time is that computers have grown ever more personal, moving from the desk to the lap to the pocket and today to the wrist (and ears). The face is a logical next step, and no company has proven itself better at the sort of hardware engineering necessary to make it happen.

Critically, Apple also has the right business model: it can sell barely good-enough devices at a premium to a userbase that will buy simply because it is from Apple, and from there figure out a use case without the need to reach everyone.

3 Comments

"Critically, Apple also has the right business model: it can sell barely good-enough devices at a premium to a userbase that will buy simply because it is from Apple, and from there figure out a use case without the need to reach everyone."

This is a cynical misuse of your customer base and is frankly embarrassing to trump as some business secret sauce. Good gracious! Sincerely hope quote is taken out of context.

Reading article, not really. Quote is spot on. Weird.

It is something Apple's done before. The original iPhone was barely good enough for what it was trying to do. The original iPad was very underpowered and thus barely good enough. Ditto the original Air and original current MacBook. Even the original 5K display in the iMac was arguably barely good enough. This is a constant thing with Apple pushing the envelope. I usually try to avoid the first gen of any of these new Apple products. Usually they aren't supported as long. (Look at how quickly OS upgrades dropped the 1st gen iPhone or iPad) They also have lots of compromises that don't get fixed until the next generation.

What this lets Apple do is sell an awful lot of devices to people willing to get the first generation. They can then figure out the problems and use cases better and iterate. It's that iteration cycle that Apple does well but arguably it's only possible because people are willing to buy that flawed first generation. Compare this with other makers who have to get it fairly right the first time otherwise the product is considered a failure and ignored.

>Reading article, not really. Quote is spot on. Weird.

This is a very interesting aspect of much of the Apple-focused media. They have a tendency to conflate things that are "good" in a generic sense with "things that make Apple money", possibly because many of them very much identify with Apple. They feel personally validated when Apple does well. This goes way back to the 90s, when Mac sites like ATAT attacked analysts who predicted low profits for Apple, and then gleefully reported about it when Apple beat the forecasts.

Part of that is just American culture, where free markets are seen as intrinsically good, even if they produce bad outcomes. This means that any criticism of a company can then be countered with "they're a corporation, they're *supposed* to maximize profits", as if that negated that criticism. Logically, it's a non-sequitur.

But people covering Apple sometimes go even beyond that, and seem truly proud of Apple's abusive behavior towards them. To be fair, though, I think Thompson gets a bit of a free pass here, because his site is focused on the business of technology, not necessarily on technology itself.

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