What makes a good tech product?

Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991.  With Kara Swisher, he currently co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering is considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries.  In addition to Personal Technology, Mr. Mossberg also writes the Mossberg's Mailbox column in the Journal and edits the Mossberg Solution column, which is authored by his colleague Katherine Boehret. On television, Mr. Mossberg is a regular technology commentator for the CNBC network, where he appears every Thursday on the mid-day Power Lunch program. He is also a regular contributor to Dow Jones Video on the Web.

In a major 2004 profile of Mr. Mossberg, entitled "The Kingmaker," Wired Magazine declared: "Few reviewers have held so much power to shape an industry's successes and failures." Mr. Mossberg was awarded the 1999 Loeb award for Commentary, the only technology writer to be so honored. In May of 2001, he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Rhode Island. In May of 2002, he was inducted into the ranks of the Business News Luminaries, the hall of fame for business journalists. That same year, he won the World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.

  • Transcript


Walt Mossberg: If you’re 16 and you have a lot of time on your hands, you may want to screw around with trying to fix your Windows when it breaks. If you’re the same person and you’re 25, and you still are not afraid of the computer, and you have a lot of technical knowledge, you suddenly find you have a lot less time on your hands to goof around with it.

And so it isn’t a question of being dumb, or smart, or intimidated, or not intimidated. It’s a question of you bought the laptop. When you open it up, you expect it to come on. You expect it to connect to the Wi-Fi network. You expect it to get you to the website. You expect it to deal with your email. You expect to be able to play your favorite game. You expect it to be able to do Facebook and MySpace.

And at the same time, if you want to or need to, you expect to be able to write a 50-page paper on it. 

That’s what they promise you when they sell you the computer. And they don’t promise you that you’re going to be spending your time dealing with defragging the hard drive and updating the security program and all that other stuff.

And so I have been laser focused on that. The first line of my first column was, “Personal computers are just too hard to use and it’s not your fault.” And I still think that’s true. And I think it’s true for cell phones, which are like personal computers 10 years ago. It’s true for most of these products.


Recorded on: Sep 13, 2007