#4. The Greatest Minds Inventing Things No One Wanted
Based on our tendency to get worked up about useless bullshit, some bullshit manufacturers made the mistake of assuming that people would, in fact, line up for anything as long as it had been marketed properly and put into some kind of attractive box. Several years and billions of dollars were spent on several new products without the inventors ever stopping to ask whether they actually offered any kind of benefit to the consumer.
HD DVD vs. Blu-ray
After selling DVD players to every household on Earth that wasn't made of grass, the electronics industry needed something new to sell. They pointed out to the movie-buying public that regular DVDs didn't look so good when watched on a gigantic television the size of a wall. To make movies look good on that Blade Runner building-sized TV, you needed a high-definition DVD player!
Of course, the industry had not yet convinced the public that they needed the gigantic televisions in the first place, since most people already figured out that having a gigantic television simply meant you had to sit further away from it. So it actually occupied the same field of vision as a regular TV you were sitting closer to, only the big TV cost thousands of dollars more and now you had to shout across the room to be heard by your family.
Just to make sure consumers had as little reason to upgrade as possible, they were offered two competing formats (HD DVD vs. Blu-ray), one of which was sure to be extinct in two years rendering both the device and all the films you purchased for it useless. It was a game of consumer electronics Russian Roulette, where clicking on the wrong chamber would make several hundred dollars fly out of your pocket and burst into flames.
In a nation with 100 million TV households, only 700,000 of each kind of player had been sold, if you don't count the ones that PlayStation 3 buyers were forced to take whether they wanted them or not. Speaking of which ...
Sony sold a ridiculous 120 million of their previous game machine, the PlayStation 2 (if laid end to end they would reach from New York to L.A. ... going the long way around Earth). From this, Sony decided that the gadget-buying public simply liked to take home cardboard boxes that said "PlayStation" on them, regardless of what was actually inside.
So they released the PlayStation 3, a machine that cost five times as much as their old system was selling for, offered basically no advantage over the competing systems and had no games worth playing. Their rationalization was that it could play Blu-ray movies, which look great on the 128-inch TVs all of you own.
The consumers lined up for the PS3 around Christmas of '06, but by 2007 we had woken up and realized the babe at the bar was a $600 transvestite. Consumers let PS3s sit in huge, dusty stacks on the showroom floor for the rest of the year.
At least they had that choice, unlike those who bought ...
No producer of goods in the history of man has sold so much while caring so little. The combined love and craftsmanship in the every copy of Windows Vista sold in 2007 would roughly equal that put into one toddler's Play-Doh snake. Here was a program with several features, such as a warning box that pops up every five minutes or so to ask you if you're sure you want to do what you're doing, so shamelessly broken that they seemed to have been added on a drunken dare.
Nearly everyone hated Vista, in the way that nearly everyone hates being stabbed. It didn't matter. About 100 million copies of Windows Vista were sold in 2007, because 90 percent of the PCs for sale were already infected with it. Want a new computer? Want to be able to buy software for it? Well, then you don't have a choice.
Vista is one of those things the future will laugh at us for, in the same way we laugh about old hospitals using leeches. What will seem even more ridiculous and quaint ...