When it comes to choosing consumer products, only software matters

I’ve noticed that in recent years, hardware specifications have become completely meaningless when it comes to product experience.

In 2023, I encountered two examples: AirPods Pro and the Steam Deck.

Let me start with the Steam Deck. Before getting the Steam Deck, I had purchased the ASUS ROG Ally, intending to play games on it. Maybe I would spend 15 minutes playing before going to bed. The Ally had a beautiful screen, powerful GPUs, and impressive hardware specs, so I bought it.

However, after purchasing it, I had absolutely no desire to play games on it. It came with Windows pre-installed, and I thought that would improve game compatibility. But for each game, I had to configure and map the controller, wasting 30 minutes before even playing.

Then it would prompt me to update. I had to update the system and download security patches once a week, which left me with no time to actually play games.

On top of that, it took several minutes to turn on or off, and the sleep mode often didn’t work properly. After a while, I ended up abandoning it.

The Steam Deck, on the other hand, was a completely different experience. Although it had a smaller and weaker CPU, I played games on it every week for the past six months. As long as you buy games that are “great on deck” on Steam, you can download them and start playing immediately. The controller mapping was excellent by default. SteamOS didn’t force me to update, and the sleep mode resumed within three seconds. I played games like 2K, Spider-Man, and Cyberpunk, and they all worked fine.

Now, let’s talk about the AirPods Pro. I used Sony earphones before, and while they had all the necessary features, they didn’t provide the seamless experience with iPhone, iPad, and Mac like the AirPods Pro did. AirPods Pro could automatically detect when I wanted to listen to background noise or switch to podcasts/music. In the end, the AirPods Pro were the first earphones that made me accustomed to “bringing headphones whenever I go out alone” instead of “bringing headphones when I need them.”

When it comes to the average consumer, I believe that the deciding factor in choosing a product now lies solely in the software and ecosystem it offers.

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