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Advertising? Slick design? Who needs it?

Originally published at Quantum Matrix Scribe. Please leave any comments there.

About a week ago, I was at my sister’s house in upstate New York visiting, and she told me about this wonderful thing called X10. It’s a company that develops “home automation systems,” allowing you to control your lighting, doors, appliances, and everything remotely, or set up schedules for turning things on or off or doing other crazy things. Her example was using a TV remote to control the lighting in her home theater, which, actually, was really neat. I mean, she had those light cables they string down the aisles at the movie theater, and she could dim them so it looked like Regal Cinemas…you just have to trust me on this one. It was cool.

But then she showed me their website, because, well, it’s not what you expect.

For a contrast, let’s take a brief look at the Apple website. (I’ll move past the special splash page about Steve Jobs–not to belittle him, but simply because that’s not the regular design.) Slick, eh? It’s pretty, clean, and, if you’re a Firefly fan like me, deserving of the descriptor “shiny.” It’s like everything else with Apple–very pretty packaging.

Now back to X10. Now back to Apple. Back to X10. I think you can see the difference.

My sister said she thought that X10 was originally scam of some sort, with all of this “Buy this! Sale now! Speaker Palooza!” malarkey. Yet, it apparently worked, since my sister and her husband have already bought some of their products and, I think, they’re looking to buy some more. Another thing they told me is that you won’t see their ads on TV, or around the Internet, either–I’m not exactly sure how they found out about it, but it looks like our winner is “word of mouth” (followed by a ding! ding! ding! noise.) Of course, I’m helping it along too. I know that. Really.

So, basically, these guys have a really cool product, which they are apparently making a good deal of money off of (enough to sell their own $200 Android tablet, which I’m sure would also have their apps for controlling your garage door from work), and they don’t spend a great deal of money on either web design or advertising. I would really like to see their profit margin–I don’t do stocks, but if I did, I might invest in these guys. Oh, and better still, they offer a way to kill their ads if they appear on your machine. A company offering to take out their own ads for you? Holy moly! Finally, someone who understands the average American! (Yes, I’m sure there’s a catch of some sort, but still, the intention is quite noble and refreshing.)

And here I was, thinking we needed all that extra stuff, needed to take extra special time to think about how I would write something or design the presentation. Apparently, not so much.

Personally, if I got a house, I would get their intercom system and make the kids call me Captain Kirk:

Child: Bridge to Captain Kirk.

Me: Kirk here.

Child: Captain, we’ve just run out of toilet paper, and sensors have detected more Klingons coming from Uranus.

Me: Go to Red Alert and take evasive action. I’m on my way.

God, I would be so annoying.