Some companies do something special. They give you less and they charge you more for it and you are grateful for it. Apple Inc. is without doubt the most famous of these.
Dear Reader, I hear grinding teeth. Please, let me finish my dissertation: I am not finished.
'Quality' is a difficult word to define. 'Value-for-money' is just as hard. If you take an Apple product and write a table of features compared to a competitor product it will look like a loser. It seems stupid to do it if you care about quality rather than features, but… magazines, websites and intelligent people continue to do it.
I (and I hope you, Dear Reader) will usually choose the Apple product. The big question is: why should we?
In the golden days of cathode ray tubes and infrared, I would always try to buy (and advise to buy) a Philips. If you have ever held a Philips remote control in your hand you will understand this. It was 'quieter'. It had less buttons. Every button did something.
Every button did something! Imagine: No button was redundant! You, as an average user would get use out of all the buttons. Even better, the buttons you used the most were directly beneath your fingers and thumb. This was not (and is still not) the case for their rivals.
Did the Philips TV cost more? Well, yes! But not that much more and there were more expensive machines that had worse design.
Dear Young Reader, I do not jest when I say that, in those bad-old days the number of buttons on the remote was a selling point, just as the number of keys on a keyboard was. It was a number on the table of features.
When I got my first Apple remote I lay it beside my old Philips remote and I laughed. This was a remote that had more functionality than the Philips remote. It did more. But it had a fraction of the buttons.
So, if you compare an old Philips remote to a new Apple remote in one of those old feature lists it will lose. Horribly. It only has three (or six) buttons (depending on how you count them). But, the Apple remote has more functionality, because it has been designed with the attention that the box it talks to has been designed with. Neither was designed to a feature list.
Fast forward a few years and you will find me with my third 3G phone. It is the second phone to promise video calls and internet. It takes great photographs but the Orange branded UI is a dog's breakfast. The 'internet' is WAP not HTML and goes through an Orange portal not a normal search engine. It is slow and pretty much unusable. I can read the BBC headlines if the planets align above me, but not much more. It also claims to have tethering but when I try to use it with my Powerbook all I get is horrible ghosts of web pages that have been fed through a filter that makes everything look as bad as it does on the phone. I would also have had to pawn my trousers to use it regularly. I soon give up.
With each 3G phone me and my pal Matt upgraded to (Nokias and Sony-Ericssons) we sat in the pub and tried to make a connecting video call. We never, ever succeeded. Not even a whiff. It was the only reason we had bought them. Well, that and the huge feature list that we had poured over.
Most of the features on the big long list were unusable: video calls, email, internet, MP3 player. The only things that worked well were bluetooth and the camera - and that was more than partly down to the quality of the Mac software for both.
Fast forward to now. I no longer look at feature lists. I look for those companies that offer less but charge a little more and are honest about it. This is not because I am stupid (but I have been called stupid on many occasions). I look for companies that make promises that they will keep.
This essay was never supposed to be about Apple, Philips, Nokia or Sony-Ericsson. It could have been about the iPhone or Nintendo Wii but it is not.
It was supposed to be about a small company called Moo.
Moo are to business cards as Apple are to tech. Moo are to stickers as Philips were to remotes. Moo give you less for your money – physically less.
You can get loads more cards if you order from a 'real' printer. But you have to speak print-shop and know about bleeds, spot colours, card-stock, dpi, the whole ugly shebang.
Try to order from your local printer and you probably won't be given a price until the end of an ordeal. The cards will be wrong, they'll take ages to come, the card will be too thin, there'll be a misprint, some of them will be smudged and you will get 10 times as many as you wanted.
Most importantly, you won't really like them. You'll fling them about as if they are disposable. You'll give them to people with a face that says "Meh".
Moo's cards are smaller. You get less. They cost more. and they… err… come in a cute box.
But, Moo give you something far more valuable.
No, not the box. Not a stupidly easy process, not a lovely company to work with, not a quality that you can feel, not stupidly small runs and fantastically beautiful cards every time. No, not the fact that you don't have to talk print-shop talk, not that you can use Flickr photos if you have them, not that you can do it all by internet. No not that you'll know the price before you order, can pay be credit card and you'll know when they'll arrive, nor the fact that you will really have to try hard to make an ugly card.
All of these reasons are true, but they're not the fundamental reason to use Moo to make your business cards.
You should use Moo because Moo will make you a card that you can hand to people with a smile on your face and body language that says, "I spent 10 pence on this card. Giving it to you means something to me".
That, Dear Reader, is worth far more than 10p.
(Here's my card by the way…)