I get asked all the time to be the arbiter of technology. People get overwhelmed with the volume of choices out there. And while choice and variety is good, it can sometimes be too much. After all, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Name That Tune!
Lets look at guitars. There are all sorts of guitars made for all sorts of music. But even if you stick to one style of music and one manufacture you are still faced with a mind numbing selection. Fender, an American institution since 1950, are also an ocean of choices.
You want a Fender Stratocaster, but do you want an American Stratocaster? It is made in the good-old US of A and starts around $1200. Or do you want a Mexican Stratocaster, made in, you guessed it, Mexico. They start around $600. Or do you want a Fender Squire Stratocaster, which are made in Indonesia? Those start around $200.
It doesn’t end there. Within each model based on area of manufacture there are different series and options to choose from. The rabbit hole goes far and deep!
Those are ALL Fender Stratocasters, they all look very similar, but are they the same? Sure, a $200 guitar is going to be different from a $1200 guitar. The problem isn’t that they are different, the problem is you will never be happy with your purchase.
Always Leaping, Never Happy Where You Land
Studies have shown the more choices a customer has, the more likely they are to suffer from buyer’s remorse. With so many guitars to choose from you’ll never know if you’ve chosen the best one. In the back of your mind you will know that you might have gotten a better one. If only you had spent more time looking, or if you had spent more money, or gotten different options.
If you had just two choices for a Fender Stratocaster, a $1500 model or a $800 model you would get the one you could afford. You would be happy knowing you did the best you could.
Some guitar companies do this. Danelectro guitars are not the most high-end instruments but they are very good. They have been making guitars since 1954. The company made guitars and amplifiers under contract that were branded with the names of various store brands, such as Silvertone (Sears) and Airline (Montgomery Ward).
They don’t use exotic woods or come with hand crafted electronics. They are actually made out of Masonite and plywood. But who uses such a “cheap” guitar? Well just people like, Glen Campbell, Elvis Costello, Jeff Beck, John Fogerty, Dave Mathews, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lee Hooker to name a few.
All the Danelectro guitars are manufactured in the same place, Korea (they make very good guitars). The most expensive guitar they sell is about $800, and the cheapest is about $350. But that is for different types of guitars. Within a specific model (type) of guitar there are no “versions”. The only option you get is color.
This means you know, for sure, you have gotten the BEST Danelectro guitar you can get. You pick the type of guitar for the style of music you play and BOM! Done, no buyer’s remorse.
Choosing A Computer is Not Any Better
Apple is better than most, but they are still a bit of a nightmare. If you want a desktop computer you can either have the iMac or the Mac Mini. If you choose an iMac then you must choose iMac Pro or standard. If you choose the standard iMac then you have to choose size, 21.5” or 27”?
However there are three levels within either the 21.5” or the 27” iMac. And within each one of those you have choices to make. The problem is, beyond the type (laptop or desktop) and the style (Mini or all-in-one) the average person has no idea what to choose. What CPU should you get? How much RAM do you need? How much storage space should you have?
It Really Doesn’t Matter
When it comes to Apple products it really doesn’t matter. You can’t upgrade the machine after you buy it, so you had better get the MOST of everything NOW! The “choice” they are giving you is an illusion. An illusion that does nothing but confuse people, even professionals.
Do I “need” the i7, 4.2GHz CPU? For what I do, more then likely not. But a new iMac without it will quickly become obsolete. Do I need an American made Fender guitar? Not really but it will hold its value far more than a Mexican made, or an Indonesian Squire.
Fewer choices would be better
The technological revolution we are living in should give us fewer choices. We should have fewer choices but better options. Technology should make it possible to have the BEST of a thing all wrapped up. Without having to choose between options that we don’t understand. We shouldn’t need an expert to weigh the pros and cons of a purchase that should be straight forward.
I have clients (and friends) ask me all the time, what computer should I get? What web hosting company should I use. What e-commerce platform should I have. The problem in giving advice for those things is the myriad of choices within each choice. It is a rabbit hole that they have gone down, gotten lost and confused in, and now are asking for help.
Giving customers choice purely to offer lots of choices doesn’t make for happy customers. It makes for confused people who are never satisfied with what they choose.