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Author: stevenjklein Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 189911  
Subject: Re: Strategic design flaws & omissions Date: 1/1/2013 11:29 AM
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Yes, removable storage can add complication, but no different in level than the floppy disk, USB thumb drive, external hard disks or DVD's do.

Given a choice between a single hard drive large enough to store all my operating systems, apps, and data, or the alternative of multiple drives, I'd choose the latter. (And, in fact, that's exactly how I work.)

The only reason I have a 2nd drive on my desk is for backups. (And if you think about it, the whole idea of backups is a concession to the unreliability of hard drives, operating systems, file systems, and apps. If apps always wrote correct data, and operating systems and file systems also stored that data correctly, and if hard drives never experienced hardware failures, then we'd only need backups to protect us from our own clumsiness, like accidentally deleting a file.)

(Well, I suppose another reason for backups is unforeseen disasters like thefts, floods and fires. But the solution for those is some kind of remote backup, not another drive on my desk.)

I suspect many of these design limitations are more likely put in to serve the interests of the manufacturers (as they tend to foster sales of that manufacturer's exclusively distributed products.

That would make sense only if a manufacturer offered the device in multiple storage configurations. But the iPod shuffle comes only with 2GB of storage. If you want more, you'll have to look at competing products from other vendors.

The iPod classic only comes with 160GB of storage. The MacBook Air is available in 4 models, but they all have precisely 4GB of RAM. The iPod nano comes in a large variety of colors, but all the models have exactly 16GB of storage.

These limitations don't keep people in Apple's ecosystem. On the contrary, if you need a different amount of storage or RAM, you have no choice but to leave Apple for a competitor.

I think the more logical explanation is that fewer models means using fewer part variations, simplified manufacturing lines, and fewer SKUs, all of which reduce costs. Yes, they're doing it for their own financial reasons, but part of their logic is that these specific configurations will meet the needs of the greatest number of users.

(Apple uses the same WiFi chips in all their Macs. I once ordered a Dell laptop and had a choice of 3 or 4 different WiFi chips. Even if Dell sells more laptops, I bet Apple gets better pricing through buying 10 million model X chips than Dell does buying 4 million each of models W, X, Y, and Z.)

Expandability also requires tradeoffs like weight and space. The design goal of the Air was to be as small as possible. Having RAM slots would require a larger logic board. Likewise, having a non-removable battery allowed them to make it an irregular size to fill as much possible available space. (Take a look at the battery in this picture: http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/tNeWnWVjptZlHXJd.large)

Why doesn't the Air have built-in Ethernet? Because WiFi serves essentially the same purpose, and an ethernet port is physically taller than the computer itself! (Lenovo solved this problem by making their computer thicker at the point where the Ethernet port sits; look at this photo and tell me if you think it looks better for that compromise: http://www.engadget.com/2012/07/13/lenovo-ideapad-u310-revie...)

Now, there are some users who might be better served by having a user-replacable 5-hour battery, but I suspect the numbers pale in comparison to the number of users who would rather have a non-replaceable 7 hour battery. And again, if you need replaceable batteries, then Apple's decision has the effect of forcing you to buy from their competitors.
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