Thursday, 24 June 2010

Buying New Technology

Unlike my normal rants about politics, I'd like to change the tone slightly and offer some advice on buying new technology, and especially computer technology, based on the following article:-
Early reports from the US by users of Apple's new iPhone 4 suggest that a design fault means its reception worsens when held with the hand wrapped around the phone.
Dozens of videos posted to YouTube, along with comments from people whose phones were delivered early yesterday - ahead of today's official launch - show that reception appears to wane if people hold it with their hand touching the metal rim around the phone that forms its two wireless antennae.
My simple advice is as follows:-

  1. Never buy anything new on day 1 or as a pre-order. Ever. There's a big difference between someone standing on a stage going through a rehearsed demo and what happens when it reaches someone's hands. I don't blame Apple or any other tech company for this. It's just a fact of life. I've built huge, complicated software systems, tested them to death and once the users start using it, stuff that we didn't think of started to appear.
  2. If you can, wait for version 3 of the product, or in the case of Windows releases, wait for 2 major service packs (bug releases) to happen. I'm not sure quite why it's always version 3/2 major service packs, but my feeling is that v1 is often a bit ropy, and so v2 is a huge improvement, ironing out the big bugs. Then v3 irons out the lesser, but often still quite important bugs, and you have a mature, useable technology.
The other thing is that buying v3 of some technology, or waiting a while means that other people pay for the bulk of the R&D costs while also suffering all the bugs and design problems. You get to enjoy a mature, stable product.

Now, you might say "but someone has to be an early adopter". Well, yes. Rich idiots, mostly. They do it, you benefit.

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