We Need to Stop Having Such Lofty Expectations for Tech Companies
The speed at which technology has advanced over the past few decades is simply incredible. In this, the 50th year of the Consumer Electronics Show, looking back on what technology was being released in 1967 compared to the tech toys that we’re seeing drop on a regular basis—folks from yesteryear would look at 2016 like it was something out of a sci-fi flick. We’ve got flying cameras and devices that can snap 360-degree photos, goggles that can transport us to a different universe and printers that can print full-on prosthetic limbs.
Technology is incredible. But maybe it’s advancing at too quick a pace?
The rate at which consumer tech has improved has almost created an atmosphere where expectations for the major tech companies out there is almost too much to bear. We’re expecting far too much out of them. For sure, part of the problem is that these big companies (and even the tiny start ups out there) have uncovered and developed these new technologies at an astounding pace. Just a handful of years ago, the concept of carrying the internet around in one’s pocket was mind blowing. Now we’re just around the corner from phones with screens that can bend and shape shift.
All of these feelings that I’m having today extend from the reports coming out that Apple has all but abandoned its plan to develop a self-driving car. The Apple Car, or iCar, or whatever you want to call it, is now looking like it’ll just be some sort of Apple Carplay Plus—just software that will help to support auto manufacturers in their quest to design and build autonomous vehicles. So, the company will no longer be competing, it seems, with the likes of Tesla and Google.
Project Titan, for all intents and purposes, is done. And that fact, to a great deal of tech analysts and Apple enthusiasts out there, is highly disheartening.
But why? And how? And, like, for realz?
Did everyone forget for a second that this is Apple we’re talking about? The company that started in a garage; developers of the Macintosh; perfectors of all things personal computing. The last thing that I would list in my description of the Cupertino-based company is car manufacturer. Of course, if they were able to successfully pull off Project Titant, it would’ve been huge for Apple. They’re innovators at heart, tech enthusiasts to be damn sure, and champions of pushing consumer technology to the nth degree. But by no means was it necessary for them to stretch so far out of their own means to do so. There’s “being courageous” in their endeavors, and then there’s being just plain stupid. That’s not to say that attempting to build a self-driving car in house was stupid. If anything I applaud their ability as a company to start the project, get several years into it, and then decide it just wasn’t the best route for them to continue to head down. Conversely, seeing it through to the end while not being 10,000,000 percent sure about what they were getting themselves into could’ve been extremely harmful to the brand.
So, why then, must the Apples and Googles of the world be super heroes? Why can’t we just be excited about the tech they are producing, the products and services that are their bread and butter? Putting companies—no matter their size—under immense pressure to continually step out of their comfort zone for the sake of our own expectations for what they "should be able to do" is absurd. And, if they start to crack under that pressure, it could wind up being downright dangerous (see: the Note7).
If they decide to step outside of their purview every once in a while, that’s great. But let’s try not to hold it too hard against them when they decide to stop pursuing a certain path. We as consumers and as a tech industry are too spoiled as it is. Can’t we cut these guys some slack?