Ok, we’re all guilty of this on occasion, some more than others.
That’s right, is product A better than product B? Is this deal better than that one? Is it better to go this way or that way?
YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, etc. are big and popular because of the users, not the technology itself.
We’re always comparing one option vs the next. And while this comparison is usually warranted, it can often be unnecessary in the end.
Where am I going with this? Let’s start with some examples.
Which is ‘better’?
- Bugzilla or Basecamp?
Bug tracking vs Project Management, it’s not fair to compare.
Don’t expect Bugzilla to be your project manager, and don’t expect Basecamp to be your bug tracker. While there may be some overlap, they serve different purposes.
- Digital Cameras: SLR vs Point-and-Shoot?
The reality is most of you with your fancy new SLR’s leave them in auto mode. So is the SLR necessary?
- XBox 360 vs PS3 vs Nintendo Wii
While the hardware of the XBox and PS3 blow the Nintendo out of the water, who is it that has a better experience? That all depends who you talk to.
I can tell you one thing for sure, of the people I speak to, you would have to say Nintendo is not as #3 as many once thought.
So, who cares if the PS3 blows the Wii away in the performance dept. Is that what the experience is about? Or is it gameplay, group fun and community
- MS Office vs OpenOffice vs Google Docs/Spreadsheet
- How many of you out there use MS Office? Are you aware of how many features you use? And how many you do not?
And how many of those use features not available in either OpenOffice or Google Docs/Spreadsheets
I suspect MS Office isn’t as necessary as most would think.
- Flickr vs Desktop photo management
Some assume that it’s faster to organize and maintain your photos on a desktop vs the web.
Which might be quite true for some, but quite the opposite for others. It really depends on the user, the features and the typical use.
- iPod vs Zune vs Samsung Players
Right. The iPod is an inferior piece of technology. But why is it blowing the competition away. It’s not always about features, but also experience and design.
- Our 900sq.ft. condo vs a 2000sq.ft house
Sure I would like to have the extra space, but I don’t need it. At least not presently.
- Hummer vs Toyota
Will that Hummer ever get taken off the pavement? Is it purely a status symbol?
If you’re looking for safety, get a Volvo. If you’re looking for performance, get a BMW. If you’re looking for design, get a VW.
If you never intend to take that gas guzzler off the pavement, then maybe you don’t really ‘need’ it after all.
The list goes on and on.
So what is it that makes one option better than the next? I suppose there are more than on perception to examine here. One of which is from a consumer, another from a producer.
For instance, I’m sure it can sound like an excellent idea from a software developers perspective to produce an infinitely extensible product. One which has hundreds of unique and powerful features. But what if the user only really needs a dozen features and will rarely bother to write any extensions. And what if 95% of the users don’t even realize those features even exist, or don’t know how to use them? Is that a good product? Sure. But would it beat out the competition that has half the number of features? What does the user need? What will the user actually use?
I’m relatively green in terms of knowing my wine. What I do know is that everyones tastes are different. And each wine is unique, some moreso than others. So how can we know that this $75/bottle wine is any better than this $10/bottle of wine? I suppose you would have to know what you are looking for, you would have to know your tastes. I know from my own experience and from tasting many different wines with many different price ranges; it’s not always ‘you get what you pay for’. You can get some very good $15/bottle wines, just like you can get some excellent $20/bottle wines. You can also get some not so great $35/bottles and some even worse $7/bottle wines.
So, how do you know which is better? It comes down to what you need vs what you want. And what you will use vs what you will not.
The theme of course here, it’s not perfect but it’s good enough. And this is evident in all aspects of life.