This morning, I tweeted about Microsoft’s Surface showing up very select at Sheraton hotels. It was this video that made me comment:
Besides being a bit creepy—is that woman wanting to slap the little boy, or seduce him?—the video is humorous in showing how minimally useful the Surface concept even is. I can do the things that table does on my iPhone, and I have that with me all the time.
Expanding ever so slightly on my tweet, I ask you, how long until the majority of those things break? How often will they cease to function? When will I first be able to walk into a Sheraton hotel and see a $10,000 table crashed or dark?
When Microsoft first announced the Surface just before the iPhone’s release last year, I started to write a post about how Apple’s products are cool, and Microsoft’s, when they actually release them, are only faux cool. Microsoft wants you to like their products and tries to tell you how awesome they are, but they always suck. Apple strongly suggests that their products are cool, and often they really are. They certainly are well designed, well engineered, well built, and well well well.
I never finished the post because I got busy, and not in the cool sense. But the idea still holds. Microsoft, in a desperate attempt to steal some of the thunder from the upcoming iPhone, announced a fairly crappy product which introduced nothing terribly state-of-the-art, promised to deliver it by the end of the year, then failed to do so.
Well, guess I’m sorta wrong. A few Surfaces have surfaced, it seems. But look at the Sheraton announcement carefully. Notice there’s no date mentioned. When are these tables going to be installed? They aren’t installed already or the press release would have said so. To take one small detail into question, why, pray tell, would guests want to create playlists on the table? For what purpose? To play where? Certainly not their iPod! And so on and so on.
Lo, with perfect timing, here comes Kontra to muse on the concept of why other companies do concepts, but Apple does not. He or she or it or they or them are and/or is absolutely correct. While concept products are interesting, they are often amusingly, ridiculously out of touch with the universe. Every concept car I’ve seen at car shows is laughable in its ignorance. I would never deny anyone the right to create a concept. What gets me is when it is hinted that this thing you are seeing is potentially viable. That astounding future technologies will emerge from this thing at which you are marveling or laughing. (Turns out Steve Jobs brought up the concept car problem in this Time article from 2005.)
Kontra is correct. Apple does not need to release concepts. They are in the business of making concepts reality. When I saw Steve-o unveil the iPhone at Macworld in 2007, part of what made it such a thrilling spectacle is knowing that this thing, this amazing chiclet of technology, was going to be real. I would be holding one in my hand in six months. That never, ever happens with concept products.
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What follows are the videos I originally included in my un-posted post.
See all the the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates appearance videos here.
And here’s a video from D5 with Gates showing off the Surface.
Thanks as always to Daring Fireball for leading me to good material.
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