April 25, 2015 by ...
If it weren’t for lifted product shapes, Xiaomi kit would be the proverbial ‘turd in the punchbowl’ in the art of modern tech; a chapter proving why design should be left to professionals.
Nothing exemplifies this better than Xiaomi’s answer to an ‘action camera’ shown here:
In it we see Xiaomi’s affinity for and allegiance to ignoring anything smacking of originality and or aesthetic appeal. The blocky ‘vanilla box’ an homage to the original Kleenex or Saltines package. With ‘pain promising’ not so slightly rounded edges, Xiaomi’s action cam evokes images of cracked skulls and contusions heaped atop subpar photos. Oh the joy of downloading them after surgical removal of the Xiaomi ‘widow maker’.
Ok, perhaps I misspoke. The Xiaomi action can may not be their ugliest creation. That honor may go to its twin, pictured here:
Distinct focus on 1960’s function over form topped off with ‘Hal-esque’ digital eyes and oh so Soviet era design appeal. Hard to fathom why comman-economies don’t inspire, isn’t it?
Ok, perhaps you did not vibe on that sub-reference, so allow me to explain.
Communist countries are command-economies. In other words supply dictates demand, not vice-cm versa. The opposite is usually true in the home of the free and brave. Our companies must create demand through unique product design and performance. In the land of billions of choices, companies must ‘Roger Up’ or stay home.
China however, is different. The government decides who loses and wins. This is typically determined by one’s bloodlines and bank account. Those related to the head of the communist party- Xi JinPing, for example own ten percent in a huge rare earths conglomerate, dozens of homes in Hong Kong, and we’re worth $350 million before he took the reigns of China. The family of ex-number 2, Wen Jiabao fared much better. His clan was worth $2.7 billion or about 2.7trillion times as 200 million Chinese earn in one day.
The impact of all this is that in China one need not innovate, they need red cred most of all. Lacking this they merely bribe. As a consequence, Chinese produce goods which, absent free market forces, the people are forced to consume.
Perhaps ‘forced’ is the wrong word, while it may be true that a few hundred million could scrape together half a years wages and buy first world goods, but after buying three months worth of baby powder for example, they would be forced to subsist on instant noodles and hope.
This is so because in Bejing’s tool kit of oppression they tax foreign goods, making their purchase cost prohibitive and also attack non-Chinese products.
That Lambo you buy in the USA will cost 2-3 times as much in the PRC, your LV bag too. Should a Chinese dare to splurge and buy such gear, they are deemed little more than traitors to the motherland. This is essentially what Beijing was doing when they mandated all civil servants use Huawei, not Apple, and with 80 million party members that means a big bump in sales. Xinhua, a communist rag also ran a spread bemoaning that by purchasing an iPhone 6 one is spending more on a phone than Beijing spends on all the gear its soldiers carry. Setting aside the fact that Beijing cares so little for its men of war, the message is obvious-buying foreign gear is little less than traitorous.
But back to design
Xiaomi thus was reared in a land where stolen designs are a proxy for originality and fail to develop the ‘cool’ gene on their own. When forced to try, they bring the ‘wtf’ and as consumers pass over their kit for more appealing things like thumb tacks and post-it notes.
Perhaps it is time Xiaomi puts on their big-boy britches and hires true professionals.
By the way, here is what a climate control panel could look like