Dear Sony, Dell, HP, Motorola, Samsung, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,

Please stop adding your own programmatic tweaks to the devices you want to sell me. I buy your devices to get the device, not to get the poorly-modified software running on it. You make good hardware, but when you refuse to sell it without first trying to “improve” the operating system, you decrease the value of the device, as far as I’m concerned.

If you really, truly, absolutely must waste money on a software development team, sell the software un-bundled. Or, better yet, give it away for free. See how many people download it. Look at what Amazon did with the Kindle: they put the hardware people and the software people in competition with each other. The software people made the software so awesome that it could compete with the hardware. The hardware people retaliated by making even better hardware. And, according to Amazon’s recent earnings report, that strategy has turned out to be quite effective.

Remember when the iPod first came out? If you say you do and you didn’t use a Mac at the time, you’re probably lying. On the other hand, remember when iTunes was released for Windows, and you could buy an iPod without owning a Mac? Let’s keep going…

You know what Windows is? It’s software. Pretty successful software. You know what Mac OS is? It’s software, too. It’s pretty successful, but nowhere near as successful as Windows. Mac OS X is way better than Windows, but it’s not as successful because you can only use it if you buy a computer that’s, like, ridiculously expensive.

Decoupling hardware from software is a big key to success. Stop trying to sell me on the Kodak EasyShare software you bundle with your camera and I’ll be more likely to buy your camera. If Kodak EasyShare is the best way to manage my photos, I’ll find it and use it. I might even buy it. But if it’s not, it detracts from my experience of using your camera and I’m significantly less likely to recommend it to my friends and family.


Michael Gorman