The Airing of Grievances (Day Three)

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REUTERS / Chris Pizzello

It’s my turn to air some tech grievances, which is perfect because I’m about to go on vacation. If anyone has a problem with my beefs, too bad. I’ll be gone, enjoying some warm weather, not thinking about how the tech world continues to find new ways to be annoying even as technology improves our lives. Here’s what’s bothering me right now:

Me-Too Android Tablet-Makers

Hey, Asus: The Eee Pad Transformer and the Padfone are innovative ideas. You’re dismissed. Hey, Samsung: You made the thinnest, lightest Android tablet equivalent of an iPad, so you’re dismissed. Toshiba: Way to give the Thrive all the jacks and ports everyone’s been asking for. You’re dismissed. Everyone else: Get it together. Stop making bland iPad wannabees with no justification for existence. Sure, Google shares the blame for launching a buggy Android Honeycomb OS this year without any killer apps, but your uninspired designs aren’t helping. Launching a tablet out of blind obligation only makes it harder for the innovators to succeed.

(MORE: The Airing of Grievances (Day Two))

Fanboys (All Kinds)

I’m not talking about the flame wars that erupt between rival phone users in comment sections and message boards. What really bothers me is the knee-jerk reaction from readers who can’t stand even the slightest criticism of a product they happen to like. Take, for example, my review of Nokia’s Lumia 800, which I praised as a great-looking phone that people should care about. That wasn’t enough for some Windows Phone fans, one of whom spun my problems with indoor no-flash photography as “not being able to take good pictures in the dark.” Another user tried to argue that you can’t perceive the difference between 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second in gaming, which is just ridiculous. Calm down, people. Leave the sugary praise to marketers, and accept the fact that all tech products have flaws–even yours. It’s okay to be critical, even toward products you love.

Rovio, Maker of Angry Birds

I don’t blame Rovio for milking every last penny out of the Angry Birds franchise. The existence of Angry Birds backpacks,  flip-flops and magnets doesn’t bother me. But Angry Birds is now two years old. Innovate. Show us more of the creativity that made Angry Birds a worldwide phenomenon. Prove to us that you’re not a one-hit wonder. If you don’t move on soon, your audience will.

Patent Lawsuits

The purpose of patents is to help innovation, allowing companies to create things without someone else stealing their ideas. But when companies must spend billions of dollars to buy patents they didn’t invent just for the sake of some silly arms race, that’s not helping innovation. When a patent claim forces phone makers to remove minor features that will have no bearing on a phone’s sales, but will annoy existing customers, that’s not helping innovation. When perfectly good tech products are pulled from and put back on store shelves through lengthy appeals processes, that’s not helping innovation. And when a company like Apple can dominate the smartphone and tablet markets without any help from the courts, I fail to see what this whole patent mess really accomplishes in the first place. Call my non-legal perspective simplistic, but I tend to think the best products win, and imitating what made those products great isn’t as easy as it looks. The patent system has become a huge waste of time and money for tech companies, and is in desperate need of reform.

Things I’m Grateful For This Year

Nothing. This is an Airing of Grievances. Whose idea was it to stuff some cheery fluff into the end of these posts? Doug? Graeme? I got a lot of problems with you people. In the words of Frank Costanza, “let’s rumble!

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