Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Freaks, Geeks and Microsoft


Kinect hackers may not have cared about video games, but what they wanted — a device containing specific high-tech components for just $150 — was achievable specifically because of its connection to something with the scale of the Xbox system. Only a company the size of Microsoft could afford the massive research-and-development costs, and only mass-market appeal could make such a product financially viable.


Then I guess the largest software ever written by humanity, the Linux OS, could also not have been written unless there was a company behind it. Oh wait.. There wasnt a big company behind Linux. Whatup!

The story behind Kinect is a little more complicated than this confused article reports. MS wants marketshare in gaming so badly they offer things like this, cheaply, so they swallow costs either up-front, or per unit sale. Mass production, mass consumption at work? Partly. In services we see M$ consultants runnin around offering to build Web sites for free, all the time.

So it is not true that a hardware like Kinect could never come into being any other way. There is a weird interplay between mass market, non-market forces here (who paid for Christopher Bishop's checks during his tenure in academy I wonder) which still is not being taken into account properly in many walks of life. A mother teaches a kid to eat, walk, talk, and  take a shit, and the workforce takes this finished product and puts him to work. Who did most of the work on the kid? Are all actors responsible to prepare someone for the workforce compensated for all their hard work?

Back to Kinect: Hackability, ahem, tinkerability (is that a word?) of a platform, tool is a bonus, yes. Same is true for opening up APIs of your site to outside world so your tool  / site can be customized. Just as in Linux case, connection to the ideas "out there" is important. This is not a one-size-fits-all age. People want to play, modify, customize things, tinker with your products.