Peter Rojas is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of Engadget, which is a daily weblog covering gadgets, consumer electronics and personal technology. He is also the cofounder of Joystiq, a weblog which covers video games. Rojas has worked as a contributing editor at Cargo, an editor-at-large at Sync, a technology editor of VMan, and a columnist for The Guardian, writing on emerging technology. He is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications both on- and off-line and appears on radio and television regularly as a technology commenter. Rojas was educated at Harvard University and the University of Sussex. He lives in New York City.
Question: What makes a good tech product?
Peter Rojas: Specifically if you want to talk about gadgets; but really any piece of technology, it has to solve a problem of some kind. It has to fulfill some sort of function. And I always say that the trick of a great gadget is to mask a need as a want. I mean that’s what the iPod really pulls off. It says we’re gonna solve this problem which is, you know, getting music in your pocket; but we’re gonna . . . we’re gonna, you know . . . but we’re gonna also, like, make you want it so bad by making you look cool, and be very kind of easy, and sexy that, like, you could sort of justify that want as a need, right? So that’s sort of where it gets . . . things get interesting with gadgets becoming lifestyle devices. But I think any piece of technology has to . . . I mean the whole point is it’s supposed to make our lives easier. I mean that was the original point of technology. When you go back to when, you know, people started sharpening sticks and using them to hunt. Or . . . or you know making hammers and things like that. I mean that’s . . . Technology isn’t something that started with the microchip, or with electricity. It’s something that, you know . . . I mean we all know it goes back like thousands of years, right? It’s . . . it’s . . . it’s part of human history. And so I think that if you look at what everybody’s trying to do right now, that everyone is trying to . . . whether it’s creating a new site, or . . . or building a new gadget, or building some sort of new, like, software application; like they’re trying to . . . to serve some sort of function, fill some sort of need. And whether it’s, you know, trying to entertain people, or help them communicate or connect with their friends, I mean it’s . . . At its core, there’s always something like that.
Recorded on: 10/2/07