So yesterday Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and host (with Dan Benjamin) of 5by5's Build and Analyze podcast, was in the mall on his way to get something from the Apple store, when he saw a big setup in front of the Microsoft Store.
And because Marco Arment is John Gruber's right ass-cheek, he decided to be clever. Because on the Windows Surface launch day, on a day when even rabidly anti-PC folks like Cult of Mac are giving Microsoft props for creating interest in their product and posting long lines of people eager to buy Microsoft's new tablet, he describes a very sad looking setup in front of the store, along with a huge number of MS employees, who outnumbered the customers by a wide margin.
Get it, you guys? It's so sad, because even on launch day for a major new initiative, Microsoft can't drum up a crowd! What goddamn suckers!
Marco then points out, hey, it's nearly 4pm.
You go into an Apple store on a product launch day, that near to the end of the launch day, you won't see lines. Idiot. Because by that point all of the people in those lines have already bought the device they were waiting for, and have gone home to use it. Nice try, though, Arment. Nice try.
Marco decides to go into the store -- which is so eerily like Apple's store it's crazy, because apparently a company entering a new kind of space shouldn't look to the market leader and take the lessons it can from them -- to check out the tablet.
Now, to be fair, it sounds like the salesmen were very enthusiastic, and a bit pushy. That would be understandably annoying, but since it's the launch day for a big product, that makes sense. But rather than leaving it at a 1:1 ratio of insanity and not, Marco cannonballs off the diving board of reason and splashes the living hell out of all the good sense trying to enjoy a nice cool glass of logic beside the pool.
Like the Zune, the Surface might always be competing with the previous-generation iPad. Microsoft has approximately matched the weight of the already-too-heavy iPad 3 right as Apple is releasing the far lighter iPad Mini. (And Microsoft just launched this tablet at $500 as everyone else is moving to much lower pricing.)
So apparently the iPad Mini is the new flagship iPad for Apple, with its lower-speed processor and non-retina display, and all new tablets are to be compared to it. Who the crap would make this comparison? The 10" tablet is too heavy because it's not as light as a 7" tablet? That's moronic. Also, everyone else is moving on to much lower pricing? Who, Apple? Because I must've been too doped up on Ovaltine to notice the bit at the iPad Mini announcement where they dropped prices on the full-sized iPad.
Hey Marco: announcing a smaller version of something at a lower price isn't dropping the price of the larger model, unless the price of the larger model is actually dropped.
The standard gestures don’t help, requiring many in-from-the-edge swipes that not only aren’t discoverable but also frequently conflict with scrolling. My gestures often didn’t work, and it wasn’t clear whether there just wasn’t a hidden context menu at that moment or I just screwed up the swipe.
Discoverability is definitely a problem with any system that adds new ones -- like, say, the Blackberry Playbook -- but in the 'your crap stinks, too' department, Apple isn't exactly discoverable. Most people get the basics down, but go ask any random person using an iOS device how to switch apps without using the home button, and tell me what the response is. Even with greatly simplified devices, the average user doesn't know much about it.
But since it responds to touches rather than mechanical pressure, you can’t rest your fingers on it without triggering key presses. Your fingers must hover over it, which makes it easy to get misaligned from your expected positions and type a bunch of wrong characters. I had a hard time keeping alignment when I needed to stretch for the boundary keys, including Shift. Every time I typed a capital letter, I mistyped the next few letters.
Uh oh, I think Marco screwed up when discussing the cool Touch Cover, there, because there was actual goddamn logic in that bit. Careful, Marco, you'll never take over the rest of John Gruber's body if you employ any reason at all!
Marco talks about some admittedly weird and wrong things the salespeople he was talking to said, such as denying the value of a Retina display. I'd be curious to know if that was in the script they were given, or if they were all just super-over-excited about launch day.
Maybe they were told to impersonate Steve Ballmer.
Marco frustratingly ends his little clever whackadoodle by admitting that this would appeal to Windows users, and that he knew from the jump that it was not for him. He basically approached entering the store like some anthropological tour, some rich white guy chuckling at how backwards the bone-through-the-nose natives are, how quaint that they haven't discovered the iPad, dear! Muahaha! Before he gets there, though, he drops this one last steaming whopper:
Like John Moltz, I’m left to ask the question: why buy a Surface instead of an iPad? For the price, you can almost buy two baseline iPad Minis. Or you can buy a 32 GB iPad Mini with LTE and a Smart Cover.
Why even make the iPad mini comparison? Who cares if you can get two of a smaller thing for the price of a different larger thing? Also, with the amount Arment has dropped "iPad mini" specifically in his recounting of his Microsoft Store experience, you've got to wonder if I missed a "sponsored disclaimer" post at the top of the article.
I just checked. It may read like an iPad mini ad, but if it is, there's no recognition of it.
Seriously, who the goddamn crap in hell cares if you can get two iPad minis for the price of one surface (or one full-sized iPad)? I could buy two smaller televisions for the price of one larger television, but does that mean I should buy the two small ones and stich them together so I can watch my favorite shows twice at the same time? No, I shouldn't. Shut up.
I could buy several pairs of socks for the price of a shirt, too, but what if I don't want several pairs of socks? What if I want a shirt, Marco? What then? What if I just want to buy my shirt because I need a shirt because it's cold and my nipples are pointy and even though the socks would cover my pointy nipples, they wouldn't cover the rest of my upper body because the socks only go up to my wrists?
Yeah, I didn't think you'd have a proper response for that, even though you're so very clever.