THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Kolide

The fleet visibility solution for Mac, Windows, and Linux that can help you securely scale your business


“Just Like A MacBook”

CES, the tech industry’s largest (and most crowded) trade show, is happening this week. By now, I’m sure you have already seen many of the important announcements, watched a couple of press conferences, and perhaps even read multiple tech blogs to get all the possible news from CES.

Good for you. Unlike previous years, I won’t be bothering skimming through all the headlines this time, because I’m seeing a trend that, at least for me but I believe for others too, is tiresome and deeply annoying.

As bloggers, we’re subject every day to shameless copies and imitations of Apple products. I’m not making this up. Watching CES from the outside these past few years (that is, reading from home) has been an initially ironic, then quickly annoying rush towards having to learn about the latest product from company X that is not an Apple product but looks like one. I swallowed the obvious shift in smartphone design and the hilarious copying of interface elements and tablets. Maybe those weren’t strictly related to CES, but I don’t care, because the underlying problem is the same, with the difference that during CES it’s all there in its shameless glory, rolled up in one week. We hear about these things all year. With CES 2012, I decided to stop paying attention.

Now I won’t rant and say that the tech industry doesn’t innovate. And I won’t even say that I stopped watching CES altogether, because I’ve had my fun with Ballmer and the Tweet Choir. Sony does have some amazing products (including, wait for it, two distinctive tablet designs) and they seem to be *at least* understanding what the concept of ecosystem is. Microsoft, Ballmer aside, has great taste with WP7 and, it appears, certain parts of Windows 8. Some guys made an awesome touch-based-whatever cooktop that doesn’t waste energy. Thunderbolt is looking more promising every day. The Nokia Lumia 900 is great.

There’s still some innovation going on in this industry, thank God. But the rest is bullshit.

Let’s see what CES offered, shall we? Acer unveiled a cloud-based service that looks somewhat familiar – where by “familiar” I mean look at those slides. The Ultrabooks – God bless Intel, it understands the market’s needs – were in full force at CES. They all look awfully familiar to the MacBook Air, which isn’t an “ultrabook” because Ultrabook is something the industry made up to justify the need for Windows computers that look just like MacBooks. So yeah, it looks like a MacBook but it’s not a MacBook. Get it? HP did a long time ago.

I mean, Sir Jony Ive must be proud. Even Vizio is now, well, being inspired by Jony’s creations and coming out with, again, familiar faces. Cheers to Vizio for being bold enough to announce the whole family.

We even have the computer that copies a purpoted Apple computer that doesn’t exist. They copied the patent.

Then there’s the mobile market. Smartphones and tablets. Man is it difficult to keep up with all those Android phones. Even Samsung, skilled player, must have thought this, as they have created a new category of their own so it’ll be easier to keep up with that. They call it “phablet”. Well okay Samsung, I guess I’ll take a padfone next. Oh wait. I’ll just settle for the UltraTab (No joke, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this coming out later this year). I can’t even count how many iPhone and iPad lookalikes I’ve seen on The Verge and Engadget. And don’t get me wrong, it’s their job to report on these things and I completely understand how you can get excited for the latest Android phone or 7-inch tablet. I, however, have stopped paying attention.

I personally don’t get people that purposefully buy gadgets that “look like _insert name here_, only to save a few bucks. Problem is, they might not even save those dollars anymore, because “a race to the bottom” has begun and Apple is winning. I blame those prices on the recession. Perhaps corrupted politicians, too.

It’s not all bad though. After all those clones, I look at the Nokia Lumia 900, Windows Phone 7 and OnLive and I’m reminded that there’s still hope. The innovators are out there, and there are some incredible companies working on amazing technologies that don’t make headlines at CES. There are even people who seem to get what I’m thinking here, more or less.

No one is defending the argument that folks like Samsung copy everything that Apple does. Or that Apple doesn’t copy certain trends sometimes. But the amount of shameless copying and blatant efforts of coming up with unoriginal marketing jargon going on at CES are just too much for me.

You can still find innovation. Just make sure you don’t get the Chinese rip-off.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.