back to article Does Google make hardware just so nobody buys it?

Common sense says you can't make a Veblen good out of a dumb computer terminal – but that isn't going to stop Google trying. A Veblen good is a luxury item where demand increases the more expensive* it is. A dumb terminal such as a tablet is now a commodity good sold in supermarkets. Sales follow a conventional demand curve, …

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Re: it's like Vertu only cheaper

There exists a - small - group of individuals who are Google hardware fanboys. They buy Pixel phones, tablets, Pixelbooks, etc. And they believe these things are cool. At a minimum, cooler, or better than all the other brands.

And I'm in the opposite group, the one where your bragging rights is how *little* you've managed to spend (or hacked together something from discarded parts) on making a usable device. Kind of like the time a co-worker tried to brag "I bet I spent more on my tie than YOU did", to which I replied "Probably. I usually never spend for than fifty cents or a dollar on mine." He slunk away thoroughly shot down and defeated.

Sure, sometimes it bites you in the ass (like my piece-of-crap Insignia Flex tablet from WorstBuy), but I'd *still* prefer to spend $100 or less on a piece of shit than $1000+ on something that's almost as much of a piece of shit.

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Re: it's like Vertu only cheaper

"Just find and replace with whatever you like, Cars, Music, Vegetables, etc"

Vegetables??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it's like Vertu only cheaper

Re: "Vegetables??"

Clearly you do not partake of avocados, you peasant? ;-)

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Re: it's like Vertu only cheaper

Don't forget kale or quinoa

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LDS
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It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

Google can't understand personal devices running local software. It's trying to build them because others, especially Apple does, but it's wholly outside their DNA something working locally on local data.

So they can put an i7 inside, but will still need to run something that calls some remote Google server to perform anything. Android wasn't developed at Google, otherwise it would have looked much more like ChromeOS. Data slurping is not enough, everything must happens on Google's servers - were, BTW, competition can be even controlled better.

That's why they didn't replaced ChromeOS with Android.

Apple, from this point of view, care far less about you doing everything on Apple's remote servers - as long as they can sell you Veblen goods, it's fine if you keep you work locally. Sure, they will slurp some data, just they are not obsessed doing it.

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

I was just thinking about that. I used to call it the Midas Touch, but now I've read about Veblen goods. In its heyday, iPhones were Veblen goods, which is why they sold like crazy in spite of their high price: perhaps because they sold because of their high price and their status symbol effect. These days, the effect is a bit blunted after Apple had a few missteps and the tarnish started to set in.

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

"These days, the effect is a bit blunted after Apple had a few missteps and the tarnish started to set in."

Citation needed. Only Samsung can match Apple's top-end sales and they make far less money per phone.

(Not that I have either company's products except for a Samsung washing machine, which is very good.)

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

That's the thing. They got beat by Samsung as a single brand (I'm talking social effects, not economic) and their ecosystem is eclipsed by Android. Furthermore, the Third World is now in play, and bling doesn't attract them.

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

You can't treat Android as a single entity when comparing it to Apple.

Consumers don't think Samsung and OnePlus are any more related then they do Samsung and Apple.

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

So that Samsung washer has not exploded during the spin cycle yet?

https://www.consumerreports.org/washing-machines/some-samsung-washers-may-pose-safety-risk/

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Re: It's simply the Google's hate for "personal" devices.

"They got beat by Samsung as a single brand"

I think you mean beaten.

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Giffen good?

When I did Economics it was a Giffen good.

Is Veblen even more expensive? If so, I'll have 2!

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Re: Giffen good?

A giffen good is something everyday that becomes desirable as the price goes up. Bacon has been known to show this tendency.

A veblen good starts out as a status symbol and gets more so as the price goes up.

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Re: Giffen good?

As I read it, the two work slightly differently.

In a Veblen good, the perceived value of a good (its "status symbol" value) rises WITH the price, precisely BECAUSE it's expensive. Something like a Rolls Royce or a very old bottle of single-malt Macallan.

In a Giffen good, the price itself (and alone) determines its desirability. When it goes up, so does the demand. This goes to the other end of the price scale, where low prices get instantly perceived as "cheap" or even "substandard". Best way to see this is in common consumables like fresh produce (where a cheap product would be seen as marked down because they're trying to move it before it goes bad). Or, another way, it's something that people will ONLY buy because they can't afford anything else; IOW, people don't substitute the Giffen good because the GIffen good IS the substitute for something they'd rather have but can't afford anymore.

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Re: Giffen good?

Thank you @Charles9 and @Mycho - I last studied Economics in 1990, so the mists of time have muddied the waters of my mind (if I may illustrate why I did not study Poetry instead).

Steve

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Re: Giffen good?

Welcome.

I only remember because of a fight with a psychologist at university (not long after the 90s)

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Re: Giffen good?

No. A Giffen good is the cheap product. If the price goes up, people have less money available for more expensive products and therefore buy more of the cheap Giffen good. It is unclear whether it is really a thing, whereas a Veblen good is.

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Re: Giffen good?

I thought the standard example of the Giffen good was potatoes in the Irish famine. As prices rose, so did demand. This was because prices of all foods were rising, so people abandoned all the increasingly expensive alternatives in order to maximise the bulk they could get with their decreasing spending power.

Most of European agriculture was hit in various ways during those years, otherwise a rise in potato prices caused by the blight should theoretically have lead to people substituting for other goods like bread.

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Re: Giffen good?

This is indeed the standard example, but later economists have argued that people did actually move away from potatoes as their price increased.

The statistics seem inconclusive so we are still unsure if this was actually a Giffen good. And if such a thing exists.

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Trollface

If you build it will they come?

"Amazon sells a colour tablet for £49"

As opposed to a black and white tablet?

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Yes. Otherwise known as "an e-reader". Traditionally equipped with a very low-power, but also very slow and black-and-white screen. When you're Amazon and that's where you're coming from, your tablet being a colour one is a meaningful distinction, even if e-readers aren't quite really "tablets"...

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Something I never saw in an e-reader was one in a paperback book format - same size & shape, open to see two e-ink paperwhite screens, exactly like a paperback. I'd pay good money for that even now.

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Something like this: http://www.fabricedubuy.com/flipbook.html ?

Or for something you can buy today: https://www.gvido.tokyo/

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Like this?

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/9/27/16374118/eonebook-manga-digital-reader-progress-technologies-kickstarter

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Re: Dropbear

It seems like a waste. Double the screens and you halve the battery life and double the cost. Since you can only read one screen at a time it seems wasteful and pointless.

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Except

for the music score display in Spazturtle's link. That absolutely makes sense. And maybe reading manga is somehow like playing music?

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404
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Re: If you build it will they come?

That gvido is pretty awesome! Close, so close lol.

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Almost perfect - paperback size is/was to accommodate back pocket. Pretty cool.

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Re: Dropbear

Tigra - that doesn't matter. It's the look and feel I'm looking for. Kinda like sure, you can drive a Nissan Cube around, but it's not going to have the look and feel of a Ferrari lol.

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Re: 404

A better comparison would be wanting a Nissan Cube, but twice the size and cost of a Ferrari, with half the mileage.

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Re: If you build it will they come?

Amazon sells a colour tablet for £49

I had one (briefly). It was ONLY useful if you were as heavily tied-into the Amazon Ecosystem as Apple-heads(tm) are tied into their own particular walled-garden. If your world revolves around your Prime membership, then the low-end tablet is probably usable. Not so much if you don't get your music, movies and books through their accursed "1-Click" system.

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Re: Dropbear

"It seems like a waste. Double the screens and you halve the battery life and double the cost. Since you can only read one screen at a time it seems wasteful and pointless."

Nope. An e-ink reader doesn't use any power to display a page, only to change the display on the page. It would only use more power if it were backlit. In any case e-readers can last for days or weeks without needing to be charged, even with a backlight, so it's not that much of an issue.

Besides "wasteful" and "pointless" aren't necessarily related. Yes it might be wasteful to have 2 screens when 1 will do, but it's not pointless if the reader gets a better experience.

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Re: Dropbear

The utility of a wide e-book reader might be debatable (although I would prefer a "two page" one given the choice), but the point I was trying to make was merely that at the time Amazon launched their tablet the "colour" tag was not really redundant - it really was their first device with a honest-to-goodness colour screen...

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Re: Tigra

Except, while you may need more battery to power both screens, you have more space for battery.

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ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

ChromeOS isn't really going anywhere. Given that it runs on Intel I wonder if this started life as an Intel project that Google agreed to brand: Intel is even worse at selling to consumers than Google.

I assume the Android team is letting them have their glory, while companies like Samsung work on stuff like DeX. It's the apps that will matter for this kind of device.

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Happy

Re: ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

Relax please, Chrome is just an OS... No more, no less - and like all OS's it will be replaced. Meanwhile it's just a tool.

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Re: ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

Many Chrome OS devices run on ARM. The original CR-48 had an Atom CPU, but most vendors hedge their bets with models with both.

I find a 12 hour battery life trumps slightly higher performance, and I find ARM more than adequate.

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Re: ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

Many Chrome OS devices run on ARM.

Yes, but this one is an Intel and that means emulation for Android for ARM apps. And that's assuming Intel is maintaining the transpiler.

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Re: ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

I can see your point about the long battery life making an underpowered device more useful, but consider two points:

1. This chromebook has a ridiculously overpowered processor for the processing it can actually do. If they included a processor that ran with less power, it would run for more time,

2. I like long battery life too, which is why I look into computers with processors that can standby or sleep in many conditions, then load them with operating systems that don't thrash them. I can still do real work on them, rather than be tied to my internet connection. This also helps my battery life because I can shut down my WiFi and bluetooth radios to save even more power when I'm not using those services. I have a laptop that I was recycling for someone else, with a really low-end AMD chip in it. It can run forever with a minimal Linux install, even though it has a smallish battery. I think this one was very cheap when it was bought new, as well (although I doubt the battery life using its preinstalled windows was so nice).

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Re: ChromeOS Pyrrhic victory

Yes, but this one is an Intel and that means emulation for Android for ARM apps. And that's assuming Intel is maintaining the transpiler.

Most Android apps are platform agnostic. They're written in something (usually Java) that generates a bytecode image for the Dalvik runtime or for ART, and will run on any Android device. No emulation is required.

Some Android apps are written either in C++ or some other native-code language, or are built with some component written in such a language for speed. Those apps are usually built in ARM and Intel (and other?) variants, and the right version for the target hardware must be downloaded (Google's store does this automatically, I believe). Again, no emulation is needed.

I'm honestly not sure what happens if you have (say) an Intel x86 Android device and want to run a native code app written for ARM. I'd guess it probably doesn't run, because I'm not aware of the availability of any emulator for Android targets (there is an emulator for PC-hosted debugging in the Android SDK, but that's clearly different).

So, no, I don't think it means emulation. You just download the Intel version of the Android app.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a mafia front for laundering codecs.

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Linux

In Other News

Every other day comes an announcement that some luxury goods house is closing their flagship store. I suspect the marketing philosophy of 'charge less than one week's illegal drug supply' for their 'targeted' segment isn't working any longer.

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Re: In Other News

Only of they aren't luxury enough...

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But muh headphone jack!

As someone who is probably one of the older and stodgier greybeards in this forum, even I'm confused about the bitter clinging to the headphone jacks. This isn't Bluetooth 1.0 anymore. There are plenty of Bluetooth headsets and earbuds that are so much better than their wired counterparts for use with portable devices - mainly because they have better DACs, amps, and can devote more battery to the aforementioned parts. I personally love my V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless over-ears and V-Moda Forza Metallo earbuds (I prefer V-Moda's sound profiles - nicely accurate highs and mids, and fantastic bass presence without being excessively boomy or distortive) and the thought of going back to corded ranks right up there with the thought of going back to a corded mouse. I mean, you could, but... why? Cords are tangly, ungainly, and always in the way. I've set up a few charging stations in my home with the various cable types (micro-USB, lightning, USB-C, etc) where we all just dump our chargeable electronics when we're not using them. It's reduces the amount of effort to keep things charged to pretty close to zero.

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Re: But muh headphone jack!

Using a corded (?chorded?) mouse means never having to search around for batteries or battery charger at inopportune moments.

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Anonymous Coward

"V-Moda Forza Metallo"

About Veblen goods...

And what stupid names... why use Italian words randomly just because of the "sound"?

Ah, but they believe "fugazi" is an Italian word - believe me, there's no such word in Italian - even as a slang term.

What jerks...

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Re: "V-Moda Forza Metallo"

Do you want a vente or due with that?

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Re: "V-Moda Forza Metallo"

"why use Italian words"

Because if we didn't use words borrowed from other languages, I'm not sure we'd actually have any words of our own, and we would end up having to borrow an entire language from somewhere else.

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Re: But muh headphone jack!

I'm confused about the bitter clinging to the headphone jacks

Well, quite apart from the charging, there's the slightly inconvenient aspect of swapping about. At home, unplug the flying 3.5mm and plug it in to the next device, or spend 30 seconds to force a re-pairing with the Bluetooth-enabled amplifier.

At work, where I often have to get clients audio into PA systems, 3.5mm 'just works' and is easy to swap around, or to have two or three of. Bluetooth often doesn't, and isn't.

Many phones have excellent DACs built-in, particularly when driving a line input instead of low impedance headphones, and quite frankly for PA purposes very few people would even claim to be able to hear a difference, let alone be able to reliably prove it. Processing algorithms aside (personally I'm of the school which believes there should be as litle faffing about between the source and your ears as possible), I see no advantage to having only Bluetooth available, and no real disadvantage to fitting a 3.5mm jack as standard to everything.

M.

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