Do 'engineering masterpieces' really sell?

Do 'engineering masterpieces' really sell?

Summary: In the technology world, folks tend to get carried away. We want more memory, more processing power, more speed, more graphics and damn near more of everything.


In the technology world, folks tend to get carried away. We want more memory, more processing power, more speed, more graphics and damn near more of everything.

Nevermind that we don't use half of these newfangled features. In technology, it's all about the engineering and typically that means packing on as many features as possible. The big question is whether this approach will work with customers on the consumer and corporate side of the fence. Luckily, a series of events are about to come together that will illustrate how much (or how little) engineering masterpieces matter. 

The engineering masterpiece term was used by research firm iSuppli to describe the Playstation 3. You could also connect the dots and assume the masterpiece is a synonym for money losing. "With the PlayStation 3, you are getting the performance of a supercomputer at the price of an entry-level PC," said Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and senior analyst for iSuppli in a report. The report continues to note that the "dissection reveals the PlayStation 3 is an engineering masterpiece that sets a new high mark for computing price/performance."

The cost to Sony: $306.85. That's the difference between 20GB Playstation 3's retail cost and production costs based on iSuppli's teardown. What could happen: Sony sees a strong start and then the price tag limits more buying. Memo to corporate IT departments: Find a way to use these things. Sony is giving you more bang for the buck than your PC vendor. Even if you can't think of a good corporate use for the Playstation rest easy because IBM is going to be pitching you hard on its chip--The Cell--in the not too distant future. 

Another big technology milestone coming down the pike--although the masterpiece term will be debated if not shot down instantly--is Microsoft's Vista. This oft-delayed OS is going to be more secure, offer better graphics and generally be pretty snazzy. The question: Is Vista overdone? Could Vista have been made more simple and to the point. Microsoft has a tendency to bloat things up--do you even know what half of those Word commands are? Redmond's OS masterpiece is either going to trigger a big technology upgrade cycle or customers are going to reckon that XP is enough. You can bet CIOs are going to hold back a bit. Further evidence of whether the yet-another-feature approach will work will be revealed in sales of Zune and Office 2007.

Even engineering masterpieces built around a simple concept can tend to get complicated. To wit: tapped a nice market with the concept that no one wants to go through the pain of installing a CRM application. Even the motto--"No Software"--is simple. But couldn't resist the engineering pull. It runs off and creates a software language (as if we didn't have enough of those already.) So far's simplicity is selling well, but let's see if the company can refrain from the bloat.

[poll id=13]


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  • BLOAT is in the eye of the beholder ...

    ... and what some would call bloat is, for the 'typical' consumer, a one-stop shopping solution. Not too much choice -- not too little.

    Don't like the way an MS application does something? Remove it and install whatever you want.

    Most of the software the consumer wants to use does not tax any processor on the market today.

    Vista will change that to some extent but RAM is cheap and with enough of it, Vista will run OKAY even on five-year-old 866MHz processors.

    Most people buy what's 'sexy' (e.g. the iPod) -- or, if not sexy, inexpensive. If it is also an engineering marvel -- so much the better -- but technical superiority does not sell itself by any means.
    M Wagner
  • Engineering Moves The World.

    It will not stop. It is the Essence of Human Being, always become Better.
    Even if for no apparent short term reason.
    Some years ago Bill Gates had the same short minded, narrow vision, that the idea of "to much engineering" enconpasses.
    His idea was that Personal computers would not need more then 64KB of Memory !!!
    Stopping engineering advances ... That is simply not possible.
    One has to understand that we, Mankind, always will demand more and more, even if in the short term there is no apparent reason to certain technological demands.
    In the electronics and IT area this "short term" vision is only a couple of Months, maybe a year until a Ultra-Turbo-charged Graphics card, portable computer ... whatever ... gets a new use, a new Software, a new service to take advantage of it, and a really big Customer base.
    If some projects are Very bad Managed and sold is the fault of completly ignorant "managers", aka ignorant salesman.
    Just to give you guys an idea: Five years ago I bought a Yamaha YZR 1000 (ThunderAce). the bike had 145HP and 200Kg of weight.
    I though ... my God! This Rocks! This is more power than I can need in a Lifetime! This is way overpowered for anyone running a SportsBike on the road. ...
    Guess What: Today I see the Bike as a very slow respond motor .. it is not even a Sports Bike to me ... lattests Models all have 180HP+ Ram air effect (+/-186HP) and weight 180KG ... without any type of aditional power commender (Dynojet) control on the injectors ...
    There are even model with 200HP and 140Kg (the new Ducati). And guess what: They sell like candy!
    Why? Because there is always a market for the best there is arround! No matter waht it is, and in what product area it is!
    If one looks at the issue with a single application and single scenario in mind of course things will be quite different.


    The examples are so many that