Saturday, 17 May 2008

Brand Power

Everyone who has been exposed to it will attest to the Asus Eee PC being a breakthrough product. It is, indeed, a great piece of hardware that truly adds a new dimension to the way people can use computers. The question I would therefore like to ask is, should we worship Asus for its incredible product?
Allow me to state three reasons why Asus does not seem worthy of too much of our praise:
1. The new Eee PC series, soon to be released in Australia (the 900) comes in two flavors. One is a Linux machine with 20gb of storage and the other is a Windows XP machine with 12gb. The reason for the different storage capacity seems to have been an attempt to keep both the Linux machine and XP machine at the same price, given that with XP you need to buy a Windows license. Cool. The problem is that in Australia, and so far only in Australia, the Linux machine's recommended price is $50 higher than the XP machine's, with Asus' official excuse being the difference in storage capacity.
2. The Eee PC series will probably never feature a touch screen, one of the more sensible ways for it to progress. The reason for that is to do with a limitation imposed by Microsoft: Microsoft wants to kill Windows XP as soon as possible because people are doing their best to avoid buying XP's replacement, Windows Vista. Microsoft has announced it would stop selling XP soon, with the exception of small computers like the Eee PC, which would be allowed to use it well into 2009 - as long as they do not feature touch screens. Effectively, XP's life is extended by the Eee PC, but that extension is also limiting the progress of Eee PC itself. The main problem here is that it's we, the consumers, that suffer: The Eee PC was intended to be a Linux machine, but because of its success Asus will do its best to increase market share by selling XP versions. Asus' wish to sell more implies that we end up getting less.
3. It appears as though Asus has lied to the public in quoting the energy saving features of some of its new motherboards. You can read more about it in the Bleeding Edge blog here.

The point I'm trying to make is simple. Asus may have done a great thing with its Eee PC, but Asus is, essentially, just another one of these companies that wouldn't shy of nastiness in order to increase its revenues. Needless to say, Asus is in very good company; there is hardly a company out there who is free of such blemishes, the major exceptions being companies that are not there to make a profit.
Indeed, there are a very few companies out there that are worthy of our praise, worthy of us being fans of them. Yet most of us are loyal, to one extent or another, to a select set of brand names we favor; most of us try to say a lot about ourselves through the brans we consume; and most of us gladly advertise our selected brands, as in the case of the Adidas hoodie mentioned in my previous post.
All I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't fall victims to the marketing hype. Those brands are not there to make us better people; they're just out there to make a buck. Let's not be their fools.

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