Ask Tech Effect: Is Technology Getting Fragile?
Have you ever had a phone screen crack or a piece of technology fail to function properly after it’s been dropped on the floor?
It’s an experience that many people have had, and it continues to plague people and companies around the world.
Everyone is calling for technology companies to create stronger and robust technology, and you would think that technology companies should listen to customer demand and create stronger technology.
The problem is, technology still continues to break easily despite the best efforts of technology companies, which customers worldwide are decrying as “proof that companies don’t care about customers, they only care about profits.”
Technology companies are doing their best to respond to customer complaints and demands, but they also can’t see themselves building an invulnerable piece of technology that can meet customer demands.
You might also be thinking about this issue on a personal and work level. On a personal level, you wonder if it will ever be safe for you and your family to use technology that is increasingly likely to break. On the work level, if technology is so fragile, replacement costs are going to be costly, and that’s not good for anyone.
No business ever wants to be in a situation where they can’t trust the reliability of their technology, for the short and long term. No technology company wants to make products that customers can’t rely on. No customer also wants to buy things that won’t last.
There’s a three-way interest, and people are now wondering if technology is becoming more and more fragile. It’s a reasonable concern.
However, the problem isn’t necessarily the technology’s fragility, but the number of situations where we use are technology are growing and are becoming more unique. We are also in a world where news travels fast, and more people are owning technology.
Besides, technology wasn’t too sturdy in the first place to begin with.
Technology Is Made Up Of A Lot Of Small Parts
As of current writing, we haven’t been able to create technology that is completely impervious to damage. The definition of damage also depends on what you are talking about in regards to the device and type of damage.
Each technology product is not just one large, magic brick, but rather a series of machine parts connected to each other. Each part has a different purpose, and when brought together, it helps the device perform to its best ability.
However, you might wonder how each part can fit in your computer or phone. The last time you checked, these devices aren’t exactly the largest boxes of metal. In fact, your phone is small enough to fit into your pocket.
You might even remember Apple’s MacBook Air, which was so thin it could fit inside an A4 manila envelope. How on earth could any part fit in there?
The answer makes sense if you stop thinking about computer parts looking like gears and giant boxes, and more like small, flat squares that contain technology.
You see, we used to live in a world where we had to have big pieces of technology. It wasn’t because we hadn’t invented small things, but at the time, we were just interested in making sure technology worked, rather than making sure it was small enough for everyday use.
That’s why when you imagine long wires, big machine parts and different buttons/levers, you’re not actually thinking of an impossible situation. That was actually how technology worked.
Overtime, our education systems got better, and instead of just researching how to make things happen, we tried to make things happen more efficiently.
There’s a reason why we stopped using horses for transport and switches to cars, why we went from floppy disks to hard drives, why we went from regular doors to automatic doors. As we learned how to do things, we also tried to make technology more efficient so our lives could be better.
This often involved technology running on sources of power, and also being small enough so that people could use them. That’s why you eventually saw the size of our mobile phones shrink, and why our computers have significantly decreased in size ever since the first computer aired.
Eventually, as technology got smaller, so did the parts that could fit into our technology. Initially, this wasn’t a large problem, but as consumers, we started believing that small things can do amazing things. We believed that smaller technology was cool, hip and more powerful.
Thus companies had to find a way to adapt, find a way to make technology more efficient. People also had to think about how to make people feel like technology was advancing, and most people saw that with smartphones and touch screens.
However, technology can only be so small, and while we are still doing our best, we’re not at the level of minuscule technology yet.
That’s why the smaller technology gets, the smaller the parts required to make it operate. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean less parts are able to do the same thing. It just means the components of a device are now smaller.
But That’s A Good Thing. How Does That Make Technology Fragile?
Have you ever tried to break a large brick of chocolate?
It’s actually a lot harder than it looks. But if I asked you to break a small piece of chocolate, you would say that anyone could do it, even your 2 year old niece.
That’s the point.
The problem with smaller technology is that it’s quite fragile. If a part breaks or is damaged, it’s not able to do its job properly.
To be fair, this problem exists with larger parts as well, but larger parts are able to take a bit more damage before things are disrupted. Smaller pieces of technology are not as durable.
In exchange for shrinking the size of technology, we’ve made a trade-off with durability.
This wouldn’t be a problem in itself, as technology is supposed to not be in harm’s way in the first place. After all, many people wouldn’t actually think about putting their technology under a car in most circumstances. That would just be an accident.
So Everything’s Fine! It’s Not Our Fault, It’s The Company’s Fault!
Unfortunately, not entirely. While it’s tempting to blame the company, keep in mind you chose to buy their product at the end of the day.
We loved the fact that technology was so small, it could fit in our pocket. We loved the feeling that technology made us feel like we were truly in the future. Whether it was for consumer purposes or business, we bought the technology because we thought it would make our lives better.
If we really had a problem, we’d stop buying that company’s products. Then they would have shifted. As you might tell from your smartphone though, this didn’t happen, so we have to accept that for the most part, we knew this technology was fragile, but it was so impressive we didn’t care.
However, as mentioned earlier, we all treasure our technology. When you first take it out of the packaging, you treat it carefully, as if it was precious. You never want anything to happen to your technology, and you want it to remain just as pristine as it was when you first got it.
So it stands to believe you wouldn’t go out of your way to ruin your technology, yes?
However, We Treat Technology Quite Roughly
Companies realize that people are going to be using their products in a variety of different situations. That’s why they do try to make technology as strong as possible.
The touchscreens we have are designed so that they can withstand the pressure from our fingers. The cases are made so that even if the phone encounters an impact, all the parts can stay together and still function.
Even with that, there’s only so much a company can do. There isn’t an invulnerable piece of technology, for a lot of reasons. Companies can also not predict the number or type of situations that people will encounter.
For example, it’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t throw technology. It’s actually not hard to understand; the product isn’t durable enough to withstand throws onto hard surfaces, and even throwing to another person runs the risk of someone unable to catch the technology, and thus falling onto a hard surface.
Yet people will still throw technology because they are too lazy to get up and place it somewhere. Then when the technology breaks, they get upset that the company couldn’t make more durable technology that could survive a throw, despite the fact that technology isn’t supposed to be thrown in the first place.
To be fair, technology is more durable than we think. No device is so fragile that a fall from a short height will have a significant impact on the operations. There will also be devices that fare better in certain situations, and different brands may be built to withstand more situations.
Companies are also aware of this, which is why they are starting to develop protective technologies, such as phone cases, screen protectors, carrying cases and even insurance policies to protect your technology.
But there are only so many things you can predict, and sometimes even life can take our technology into situations we normally wouldn’t imagine. That’s why phones are falling out of pockets into toilets, phones are being run over by cars or destroyed by fire.
Companies can’t prevent everything, nor can they be expected to. Just as you cannot guarantee everything in life, neither can a company.
Yes, their products should be held to certain standards, and that shouldn’t change. But you also can’t expect technology to survive every new situation it encounters.
But Brand X Can Be Dropped On The Floor, And Not Brand Y. That’s A Problem!
The fact is, NEITHER of those brand products should be dropped on the floor in the first place.
You also don’t know the exact situations and details of each device. It’s easy to say “Brand X’s products are more durable than Brand Y”, but also keep in mind that as humans, we also have our own biases and experiences.
You might have noticed that your screen gets cracked or scratched easily, so you buy a screen protector to help your next piece of technology. You might have realized that one laptop’s carrying case isn’t as durable as the new carrying case you have now.
Companies are also improving their technology, and usually competitors try to outdo each other. But all technology is prone to the same damage and same situations.
For example, people often claim phone screens aren’t supposed to crack after hitting the ground, and in some sense, they shouldn’t. But some questions need to be answered first.
First, why did the phone hit the ground in the first place? Second, how high was the fall? Third, was there any protective material on the phone? Fourth, has this happened before?
You’d be surprised, but things always look different in hindsight and with analysis. No, it’s not fun that technology breaks, nor is it fun when we’re the victim, but we also need to compare situations and realize what people are doing.
No technology can survive being completely snapped in half, and if you impaled or put your technology under a hydraulic press, it’s probably not going to work again.
That doesn’t mean a company should be alright if their technology breaks after it gets placed on a table, but that does mean that durability comparisons, as well as fragility concerns, are not always as direct and meaningful as they may appear to be.
After all, it’s easy to think a brand’s technology is easily breakable, but almost ALL technology is easily breakable. All technology is fragile. That was the trade-off we made so that we could continue to have better tools in our life.
So before you decide Brand A’s products are unreliable, take a step back. You may not be a fan of the brand or have bad experiences, which I understand. You may have legitimate concerns and experiences, but that doesn’t mean Brand B is going to be the perfect answer you’re looking for.
Besides, we are just talking about exterior damage. We’re not even talking about the internal components, which can also be damaged, but that’s for a topic for another time.
Technology Has Always Been Fragile
At the end of the day, companies are trying their best to make their technology as durable as possible. No company wants to hear that its products are fragile and unreliable.
But we must also understand that technology isn’t indestructible. It can get damaged. It can break. It can be worn down. And technology isn’t always ready to take on the challenges of life when we are.
Take care of your technology, and treat it like you would another human being. That’s the best thing you can do to make sure that your technology remains in the best condition possible.
So the next time you think about being lazy and thinking about doing something with technology that you aren’t supposed to, keep the risks in mind and then consider what you’re doing.
All it takes is just a bit of effort on your part, a bit of investment and a bit of care, and your technology should last for a very long time.
Technology doesn’t have to be fragile if you can take care of it and be as careful as you can.
We hope you enjoyed this article! If you liked it, share it with your friends and family, and follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @mspblueshift and on LinkedIn! Call us at 1300 501 677 for a look at your IT today!