Re: Praise

David Pogue doesn’t think much of the Samsung Chromebook, but does like the attempt:

For now, though, you should praise Google for its noble experiment.

John Gruber counters:

Would everyone have praised Apple for its “noble experiment” if the $500 iPad had been too big and heavy, felt like it was worth only $180, and was “a 3.3-pound paperweight” when offline? Fuck that. This is the big leagues. There is no credit for trying.

That’s not just glib, it also ignores the fact that Apple did create a device that was too big, too heavy, and too expensive, with crucial make-or-break features that just didn’t work. It was called the Newton. And I suspect even Gruber would concede that Apple deserves at least some praise for that effort, which probably nudged the industry further along on a number of fronts. A dismal failure as a product, but an interesting and educational failure.

Taking Gruber’s side, however, times are different now. The Newton wasn’t trying to replace anything; it was an entirely new category. The Chromebook is going head to head with both the iPad and the laptop, both robust and popular products. It’s one thing to release a product and have customers realize that it isn’t good enough for them to use much. It’s quite another to ask them to choose it over an alternative and leave them crippled as a result.

By this logic, the pre-iPad tablets could still merit praise even if they did suck. And if the iPad had sucked, it also could have been worthy of praise—I suspect that Gruber himself might have given Apple the same kind of kudos that Pogue offers Samsung/Google. In a post-iPad world, however, there’s no A for effort.

The expensive and flaky horseless carriages of the early 1900s do merit praise for blazing what turned out to be a crucial trail; those that came after the Model T don’t.