April 14, 2010

Tech is a Girl’s Best Friend

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When I think about technology, I think geeky men, standing around at their local electronics store talking about GigaHertz, flash memory and L2 caches. But, the truth is, that isn’t actually the target for technology products. Not at all.  In fact, when big technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google design and sell products, they could care less about geeky men standing in the electronics store. Why? Well first off geeky men are about as committed as Frenchmen. They enjoy their gadget mistresses, and no matter what company’s products they claim to be married to today, you know that they’re going to cheat eventually. Men are men, after all. We can’t help but stare at the next shiny gadget and we’re not afraid to trade in our clunker for a newer model. Men are dogs — but you already knew that.

So what’s a technology company to do?  They surely don’t want their little baby going out into the world into the hands of lying, cheating men. No, they’re looking for people who care about their gadgets, who are drawn to more than just what the specs are and really caresabout the package as a whole. Not unexpectedly, women prove to be the good “guys” that technology companies desire. Women love their gadgets, in a committed, till-death-do-you-part kind of way. Women take their gadgets everywhere; they use every feature with absolute command. Which is why the truth — which geeky gadget hounds like me hate to hear — is that every gadget is actually designed with a woman in mind.

Most of the time it’s subtle, like the brightly colored iPod Nano. The “nanochromatic” Nano isn’t quite ridiculous enough that a totally straight male wouldn’t carry one around, but it comes pretty close. The iPod Nano is an accessory, in the same way that a Louis Vuitton clutch is an accessory. Form and function converge into something more than just a bag, more than just a status symbol. A woman’s gadget is a sign of the type of person she is, an indicator of her interests. Seeing a guy listening to music on his iPod means almost nothing, but if a woman is listening to music on her iPod you think, “She must be into music.” Right or wrong, much of what men perceive about women is through their belongings.

The first real smart phone that anybody actually wanted to use, at least in my opinion, was the Danger Sidekick. Back in the day, the iconic slider was the hippest thing you could have if you were a cool kid. As such, I never had a Sidekick. However, Danger’s biggest demographic was teenage girls, who used the ultra messaging device to spread everything from gossip to gossip. Not too long ago, the Sidekick all but disappeared, gobbled up by Microsoft. On Monday, the Sidekick was reborn as part of Microsoft’s “Pink” line of phones. These sliders unabashedly target gossip driven women, with social media aware home screens and tons of easy ways to sext.  Microsoft is probably onto something. The fact is, when it comes to using technology — especially social technology — women know best.

If only the phones weren’t so goddamn ugly. It’s like the Pre and Droid came together and made an ugly baby, showing proof that beautiful devices can create absolutely ugly spawn. Proof? One of the two phones released has been code-named, “Turtle.” Isn’t that adorable?

So does this mean that only women’s needs are being catered towards when the great technology houses design their latest products? Oh, definitely. You really think they made the iPod Nano a slivers of aluminum because they could? No, it was so they could fit into skinny jeans without any force. You really think they put a mirror on the back of the Palm Pre just for kicks? No, Palm wants women to use the Pre as their compact. So men, what are we to do? Do our gadgets emasculate us? Maybe. But what is a gadget-lover to do? Just like women, they break your heart just as quickly as you fall for them.   RLD

Original Author: Rahul Kishore