Am I Reading the CNN Critique of Big Tech Correctly?

October 18, 2022

I read “With Product Innovation Lagging, Silicon Valley Bets on a Fresh Coat of Paint.” The article discusses some familiar companies, founded by wizards who became cultural icons of US innovation. The write up states:

The emphasis on a new color palette for devices isn’t unique to Google. As tech companies showed off their latest smartphones, tablets and laptops at splashy press events over the last two months, many of the products had only limited changes on the outside but boasted elaborately named color options.

Does this mean that the technology of Silicon Valley has become similar to paint chips at Home Depot? Have the engineers been repurposed as interior decorators? Is Silicon Valley pointing to recalibrating Silicon Valley as a fashion forward outfit with “taste” becoming more important than delivering compelling products. I am thinking about the sad empty place which may be a metaphor for Mr. Zuckerberg’s vision of the future — a future with attractive colors no doubt.

The write up identifies some of the innovations in the article; for example:

  • Seafoam
  • Lemongrass
  • Snows
  • Sapphire
  • Forest
  • Metal
  • Sandstone
  • Alpine
  • Bora purple

The write up points out:

But just as basic black, white, gray and silver are the top colors in the automobile industry, these colors tend to resonate most with smartphone owners, according to Peggy Van Allen, a color anthropologist for the Color Marketing Group.

Does this mean that Silicon Valley engineer decorators are living in a color bubble just as they existed in crazy features and projects no one understood or wanted. What was the color of Google Glass? What is the color of the Zuck’s metaverse? What’s the tint of Microsoft security? Here’s my answer: Failure gray maybe?

Net net: Engineer decorators, in my opinion, sums up where Silicon Valley’s innovation finds inspiration. Is that what “real news” thinks about the touchstone for technology gods? Paint chip people selling subscriptions?

Stephen E Arnold, October 18, 2022


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