The tech sector needs to rediscover quirky, reasonably-priced gadgets
We used to get lots of different fun gadgets all the time. If you aren't hype about stuff like The Rabbit from smaller builders, you're in the wrong sector.
Yesterday, I posted about the new Rabbit device just launched (pictured above), which went slightly viral. You can read the post and ensuing discussion here. I shared it because I kept reading takes about ‘how silly or dumb’ it was or that ‘oh whatever, it should just be an app on a phone.’ But all this couldn’t be more misguided and clearly a lot of thought went into the device itself (the demo, while long, is actually quite fun).
But I want to expand on what I posted on Twitter/X just a bit. Remember when tech wasn't all sleek slabs and monotone minimalism? When gadgets were vibrant, playful, and dared to be, well, weird? Yeah, me too. Those were good days! That's why the recent buzz around the Rabbit had me as excited as I would be entering a retro arcade. Sure, some folks are scoffing, calling it a gimmick or a toy. But that’s how pretty much all new technology starts, in the ‘toy phase’ before people iterate and improve upon it to something that the world uses (and eventually it enters the ‘topple empires’ phase, way down the road).
So, devices like this aren’t just about fun colors and playful pixels. It's a rebellion against the predictable, something different and creative compared to the current tech monoculture. It's a reminder that innovation doesn't always wear a suit and tie, sometimes it comes in neon and with a smile. It might not make it, could be discontinued, never see millions sold (although they already sold out of batch one in 24 hours, because it’s neat). That’s really not the point at all here though.
In the recent past, we used to get new devices all the time. Palm Pilots, Tamagotchis, calculator watches, even clunky walkie-talkies – they weren't all game-changers, but they were sparks in the tinderbox of creativity for engineers and product managers the world over. They pushed boundaries, sparked imaginations, and kept the tech world humming with the energy of ‘what if?’
That's the real magic of new funky gadgets. It's not about the specs or the price tag (though, let's be honest, who can resist a new toy, and at $200 it’s an easy purchase to tinker with). It's about the audacity to be different, to inject a little fun into what some would say is now simply another part of change-averse corporate America. It's a neon sign flashing: you don’t have to be a trillion dollar company to build a device. That’s cool.
And to those grumbling about ‘flash in the pans’ and ‘toys,’ I say this: while you're stuck in the amber of cynicism, the rest of us will be busy tinkering and dreaming up new ways to use this and other products built with love by scrappy founders. This of course applies to software too, but I think everyone is more open to trying new apps than new hardware, as we’ve become calcified on the devices side (while current devices frequently don’t even bring joy).
Many of the most revolutionary products in history emerged from unconventional ideas. The personal computer? A playful experiment by a couple of college grads. The smartphone? A crazy dream about putting a computer in your pocket. So yeah, let's celebrate the rebels, the misfits, the ones who see things differently, as Steve Jobs once said.
As the ‘adults in the room’ senior guard of tech, it’s our responsibility to foster an environment where young entrepreneurs are excited to build/take risks and they’ll be supported. That’s how nerd culture used to look, and still does in the deep pockets. Now that tech is mainstream it’s up to us to keep the torch lit. Let's be encouraging of funky gadgets and audacious ideas, that's how we keep the tech sector alive with the energy of possibility. The work behind the scenes that goes into new hardware is incredible, and worth our respect more than immediate stones — especially for early versions of ideas.
The next time you see something new and weird bubbling up in the tech world consider embracing the experiment, and maybe even purchase a new gadget not made by FANG. If you can’t do this once in awhile, you’re never going to have any fun, and I fear may miss the spirit of why we’re even here.
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