Technology, UXPaul McAleer

You're buying so much more

Technology, UXPaul McAleer

Over a decade ago I was fascinated by PDAs. I thought they were pretty cool gadgets and as a young geek with extra cash burning a hole in his pocket, I considered buying one. I remember favoring the Handspring Visor. But then I realized, "Oh, hey, I don't really need one." Part of it was due to a lack of need, and part of it was because the PDA didn't really do anything I needed it to do.

I am feeling this once again with fitness trackers. I am relatively close to buying one - leaning towards the Jawbone Up at the moment, although I love me some Nike+ - but there has been something holding me back. After reflecting on it, there are two main thoughts in my head:

1. I don't really need one. It's a pure want.
2. I'm not just buying a fitness tracker - I'm buying a whole ecosystem.

The latter point is what I find immensely frustrating about technology in 2014. It seems like every tech company is building an ecosystem; they want to be your one stop shop for everything, and also make it hard to leave later. Facebook. Apple. Amazon. Samsung. Microsoft. Sony. So when you choose, you best choose wisely; when you leave, it's going to hurt (most likely in the wallet).

Thus, I'm not just buying a Jawbone Up24 or a Nike+ FuelBand SE. I'm buying into the entire system and company that goes along with those devices. And the quant self market is immature - there are no standards yet (and I wonder if there ever will be). This gives me serious pause.

 A decision on something that should be as small as a fitness tracker, or a music player, or a TV streaming box ends up being a very, very large decision with ramifications that could affect you and your data for years. That's a very different place than we were with technology 10 years ago, and I worry for where it's going to be in 2024.