The Social Effects of Quality

Posted 2 years ago | Originally written on 29 Apr 2022

When you take the time to deliver high quality your users respond with open hearts. They cheer you on. They are more than willing to give back to you considering the convenience you have afforded them. The world is awash with base attempts that promise heaven and fail to even deliver a pedestrian experience.

No effort devoted towards producing at the highest levels of quality is ever wasted. Oftentimes quality seems to be a waste but this is usually because the immediate users may lack the right perspective through which they may prize it. But true seekers for your solution immediately appreciate this effort and respond enthusiastically. They will celebrate what you have done and, if they had any powers, would use them to ensure that more responsibility comes your way.

It is very easy to regard what may appear to be maniacal devotion to high standards as inconsequential until you have the experienced the tedium of relentlessly searching for a solution that meets a pressing need. Like a wandering traveller in search of cool water to quench a parched tongue, when you find it, you will cherish it as you would your eyes.

Apple has for a very long time been very resistant to allowing users to repair their devices. I once tried to have a battery replaced on an old iPhone 5S and went through the whole trouble of booking it in for repair. A few days after, I received the phone back quite impressed by the turnaround time only to discover that since my phone had a few cracks on the screen, Apple declined to carry out the repair. The only solution was for me to buy another phone. While they refunded me the full cost of the intended repair, I came as an affront to my intentions to repair it and given that they were the only ones with the 'keys to the kingdom' I was miffed.

Then I discovered iFixit. By then it was too late as I had already gone through the trouble of buying another phone (more than five times the initial cost of repair). If I recall correctly, iFixit started off by offering only Apple repair kits but has since grown to offer a wide range of solutions. Today I revisited their site to see that the replacement batteries even for a phone as old as the iPhone 5S are available. Best of all was their repair videos.

The quality of what they do is top notch. They demonstrate not just that repairs can be done but the relative ease to do so. This is what motivated me to write this piece. I'm routing for them. I want them to succeed over and above what they are capable of doing now. My only prayer is that they remember what got them started in the first place. They are all about facilitating repair by the masses. In doing so they have improved the standard of living for people around the world because whatever resources would have been devoted to replacement may now be spent on other amenities. A big thumbs up for them!

Another pain point that I have is Adobe. I was a great fan of Photoshop and Illustrator back in my campus days when it was only possible to afford pirated copies. Eventually, when I completed my schooling, I managed to get my own legal copy of Adobe CC6, which was not cloud-controlled. I was aware of the pain that using cloud-based software would mean: it basically amounted to a rent on the tool which Adobe could extract indefinitely. Of course, there are the arguments for cloud like always having up-to-date software but those pale in comparison to the high cost of maintaining the software. This makes owning Adobe software for personal use non-viable. The only entities which will benefit from this model will be studios, which can treat the software as an operating cost (just like a lease) and can pass on this cost to their clients instead of as a capital cost. I doubt, though, that this will affect Adobe's revenues. Take a look at their stock price over its lifetime.

Last year (2021), Adobe reported record revenues in Q3 of close to $4b. I wonder how long that will last.

For me, the final nail in the coffin came when Adobe refused to update CC6 for macOS Big Sur onwards. This basically amounted to a dump of its customers. I finally took the plunge to get rid of it after upgrading to Big Sur in April 2022 knowing firmly in my mind that I would need to find an alternative. By offloading itself of the large swathe of low-revenue users, the world has been busy reorganising itself around providing alternatives to Adobe's software. Like most people, it pains me when a company that I considered dear decides to offload my patronage in the name of greater profits. It just doesn't make any sense. However, the underlying reality is that this pent-up demand will need to be met. True, there will be some who will relent and use Adobe's creative cloud piece meal - signing up just for the month they intend to use it then lapsing when they don't need it. I suppose this is what Adobe intended - to ration use of their precious software. Cheapskates like me have had to completely wean themselves off the stuff and in due course experience withdrawal symptoms.

Enter Affinity. If you have not heard of them then head over to their website. I'm very excited about being able to afford graphics software again. At under £50 this is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm sure it will not be as powerful as Adobe's software but the fact that they have taken the time to create a quality product means that many more people can once again enjoy being able to edit photos, do graphics desgin (raster or vector) and produce stunning publications is a economic victory worth celebrating. To them I tip my hat and wish the, with all my heart, great success!