Upgrades versus Antiques
From Greenmonk: The Blog - Cherish The AIR? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should:
...the core idea that should be upheld by companies like Apple should be about making things better and less often. Making things that will be able to evolve, be upgraded, be adaptable, hackable and more fun to use for longer so that as a customer I don’t think that I’m buying version 3.4 of something that will only be as good as it’s last press release. I want to buy “the” quintessential Apple product and cherish it for years, like people would cherish a vintage car.
From De-Scribed: The upgrade treadmill is wearing us out:
Replace "quintessential Apple product" with pretty much "any product" (use your imagination) and you start to get at a shift in both attitude and culture that would solve a lot of problems. Get off the upgrade treadmill. There are already too many others.
When's the last time you upgraded your watch to one with a more reliable chronometer? Bought a new pen with a better ink formulation or superior delivery mechanism? You may, of course, be an exception—but there are a lot of other personal artifacts that have reached similar plateaus for most, where the classic vintage version is every bit as useful as the modern iteration.
I keep wondering when personal computers will hit a flat spot in Moore's Law. Or, failing that, when the capabilities and usability of such a machine meet and surpass any reasonable owner's practical demands to the point where fashion and style become the selling features. I think we're almost there—actually, we're probably there now for most people who aren't me.
Beyond the constantly growing demands of gaming, it seems like most personal computers now can do most of what anyone wants them to do. Even for me, this last-gen MacBook Pro feels like the best computer I've owned to date, and strangely enough I'm hesitant to think about upgrades for awhile this time. I like the product design, performance is very good, and I've got the memory maxed out to the point where I can run several copies of Windows in Parallels—which, itself, I think is a very weird requirement, yet still satisfied by this machine.
Storage media can hold amazing amounts of personal photos and video, and will reach near-incomprehensible levels pretty soon. Screen resolution is just about at a point where most people don't care if it gets better, and the same goes for sound. Barring any sort of Moore's Law for finding new uses for personal computers that require significantly more power, demands for functionality will likely be completely met by even the lowest end laptop soon.
So, how long until the first new personal computer arrives that turns out to be the old beater I still use 15 years from now, or sell to a kid down the block who just got his web learner's permit?