Spec Isn’t Dead But Refocused


There have been a number of reports recently claiming that comparing technology products by their technological specifications (or “spec”) is dead, but that is not the case – companies have just moved to promoting specs that are not the CPU or RAM.

Up until a few years ago, PCs and then smartphones and tablets were all competing on which had the faster processor, or more recently the one with the most cores – but such comparisons have fallen by the wayside outside of gaming and developer circles (and flame wars). This change in marketing tactic is because all modern leading smartphones from Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Nokia and more all offer models with CPUs fast enough that users simply don’t notice delays. Now we’ve reached a point where the CPUs and RAM inside the devices are sufficiently fast to do almost everything thrown out them without breaking sweat – why bother focusing on that parts of the device?

What differentiates devices today are the quality and size of the screen, the quality of the camera, and the thickness, weight and the connectivity of the device (4G LTE? HDMI?) – so this is where technology companies are focusing their marketing material. There is a reason Apple is currently titling its new iPad page “Resolutionary”. It isn’t the CPU and RAM are not important, it is just that to the majority of consumers – any of those being utilised in leading modern smartphones will do the job admirably. Add to that the differences between ARM 7 and ARM 15 instruction sets, and you are adding complications most people do not and understand and do not have any desire or need to do so.

As each device moves towards a retina display and camera that competes with dedicated compacts – the manufacturers will move onto other factors to differentiate themselves, hopefully battery life being one of them. Increasing the battery life will mean different CPUs, or different screen technology like OLED, but all consumers will care about then will be the battery life. Technology manufacturers will always compete on spec, but which part of that spec the marketing team focus on will always be determined by what consumers are looking for at that moment.

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