This is Part Two of our two-part debate on whether we should be investing in brand name technology or settling for product that simply get the job done. Check out Part One here.
It all started with the Flip camcorder. Up until that point consumers were demanding only the best – the highest quality HDTV, the most feature-rich computer, the greatest sound system. Then came along this camcorder that was significantly sub-par to any existing video capture device in the market, but, it was simple and cheap and it opened up the door to a new audience to capture video that wasn't able to before. It may not have had all the latest and greatest features, it may not have shot the best quality video, but it was good enough.
Since then, several other product categories have met the same ill-fate. Surround sound systems have fallen wayside to soundbars, smartphones have replaced cameras, cheap televisions are sinking high-end models. Many manufacturers are still throwing in all the latest and greatest features trying to persuade consumers that quality DOES matter, but it's to no avail – simplicity and convenience have been winning the war over quality for years now. Why spend $3k on a surround sound system when you can spend $300 on a soundbar that sounds good enough and doesn't crowd your family room?
Many manufacturers are still throwing in all the latest and greatest features trying to persuade consumers that quality DOES matter, but it's to no avail – simplicity and convenience have been winning the war over quality for years now.
Even I have to admit falling victim to this trend. We have at least 5 digital cameras in my household ranging from pocket-sized point & shoot cameras to professional-level DSLRs. I even have an attachable lens for my smartphone. Yet, what do I use for 99% of my pictures? My built-in smartphone camera! That's all good until I kick myself when I start working on my annual scrapbook of my daughters and realize half the photos are too grainy to include. I begin feeling like these guys – and kicking myself for settling for "almost as good."
To me, the problem with "good enough" is that it is just not aspirational enough. It is an admission that you have selected something that is sub-par when a better product was available – and you are ok with that. But should you be? Should we be okay with watching a video or listening to music in a way that gives us only the gist of what the artist intended? And because we are ok with settling for this lower standard of quality, fewer companies are incentivized to continue to innovate and research to create better products. We should be striving to make things better.
Isn't it time to push the movement back to excellence? Shouldn't we care about the quality of our pictures? They are, after all, the link to where we've been and what we've done. Shouldn't we demand the best audio for our homes since it is the backdrop to so many of our fondest memories. Isn't it time to say "good enough" just simply isn't good enough for us anymore?