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The !@#$% Product Rating Scale

- January 22, 2008 - 2 Comments

I have my own rating scale for consumer technology. It’s called the !@#$% scale. It works the opposite of most ratings in that perfection is as close to zero as possible. For every swear word uttered you add one point. Unlike most rating scales there is no finite limit. Theoretically a new product could score a 2,327 on my scale. No product has ever gotten close because I usually take a bat to the product when it gets close to 50. My !@#$% rating scale is so easy to understand even my dog gets it. For lower scores he stays close and wants to be petted. For higher scores he typically runs away and cowers behind a piece of furniture or my wife if no furniture is readily available.It’s important to note that I’m not dumb (I can’t say that everyone agrees with this statement). I attended a lot of school and paid attention most of the time. However I’m not smart enough to have earned a doctorate in computer science or electrical engineering. When something gets too difficult to understand I either don’t do it or pay someone else to do it for me. I’m a reasonably good barometer for new technologies. If I’m compelled to buy and able to get the product to work most people should be able to.Recently I’ve been on a bit of a buying spree of new consumer technology. In the past several months I’ve picked up a Sling Box Pro, an Apple iTouch, a Nintendo Wii, and a Canon S1000 digital camera. I have justified these expenditures based upon the fact that I work in consumer marketing at Cisco and therefore should be trialing the latest technology. My wife is a bit skeptical of this reasoning and is wondering why I can’t get Cisco to subsidize my recent purchases since they are a”business expense”.Sign-up for Cisco’s new web series Digital Cribs.Overall each of these products has scored well on the !@#$ ratings scale. While none has scored a perfect zero, none has scored above a 10. Overall a pretty good showing for each of the products which has been a big relief to my overly sensitive golden retriever. However my recent experiences with the four products have highlighted some pet peeves I have about consumer technology. So here’s my top five”Consumer Technology Pet Peeves”:5. I just paid $1000 and none of my devices work together.4. Instruction manuals are anything but instructional3. Games that require four years to make it past level 12. I just want it to do one thing really well, not 10 things poorly.1. Easy set-up? PLEASE!Of the group, the Wii is the standout and the only swearing has resulted from my wife’s ability to consistently beat me in every game we play. I guess she was blessed with very good hand/eye coordination. So often in consumer technology a product is developed that searches for a consumer problem or need. Very rarely does a product come along that not only delivers on its promise but takes a fresh approach. As a casual gamer, I have owned a variety of previous generation game consoles. With the exception of the Nintendo 64 my parents bought me in 1987 the typical cycle is that I get all excited about buying the new console, purchase a few games, play it intensely for a week and then push it towards the back of my entertainment console. There is definitely an initial euphoria most often followed by a lack of interest. This is both good and bad for the company who made the console. The good is that they convinced me to hand over $300 of my hard earned cash. The bad is that they never really engage me with their product and are unable to generate an ongoing revenue stream from additional game title purchases. Most the games (sports, first person shooters) are too complex for anybody who has a semblance of a personal or professional life. I recently played Halo and couldn’t survive past the first 5 minutes of the game. What fun is that?The Wii is different. Its creators recognized that most people are looking for a fun, interactive experience not a Dungeons and Dragons labyrinth. While Sony and MSFT built great consoles, they clearly were competing for the hard-core gamer who values technology and revels in complexity. I’ve now owned the Wii for a week and play it everyday for 15-20 minutes. I’m still focused on using the Wii sports game that came with the console, but have started to look for additional games that leverage the Wii remote yet are simple enough to enjoy from the get-go.I’m off to my nightly Wii practice session. My wife has agreed to give me a rematch in tennis and this time I’m not going to lose.View Michael Kisch's profile on LinkedInTo learn more about visual networking go to: Wikipedia

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  1. I feel your pain. I've become a bad influence to my children because of all the swearing that occurs when I try to install new devices.

  2. My wife didn't buy the I'm doing research for the company"" line either."