What Are Hardware Companies Doing Here?

MKBHD on the annoying trend of half-finished products launching

Fresh off getting attacked for his finishing move on Humane's AI Pin, you'd think MKBHD might naturally back off a bit in his next review of an AI gadget from a startup – especially one that seems to be thought of a bit better thanks to its positioning in the market (and price), if nothing else.1 And... not really. Instead, he uses his simmering annoyance on the jank of the Rabbit R1 as a jumping off point for an interesting rant (about 14 minutes in) on the state of (unfinished) product releases in 2024.

As Marques Brownlee notes, the tech world equivalent of "we'll fix it in post" is happening everywhere – from AI pins to, terrifyingly, autopilot. Brownlee doesn't bring up the Vision Pro in this particular rant, but I'd definitely put it in the same bucket. It shipped in a half-baked state and is slowly – and I do mean slowly – getting updates to make it a more fully-formed product. Such as the actually cool but should have been a launch feature: Spatial Personas.

Right on cue, Rabbit is out today with some software updates which are meant to fix the awful battery life and a handful of other things. Bug fixes post-launch are, of course, normal. But shipping a product with seemingly unusable battery life is just inexcusable. How about this? How about don't ship it until it's ready? You know, as used to be the case in the good old days of the 2010s.

1 The "Large Action Model" concept is probably the most interesting aspect -- that is, allowing the device to figure out how to interact with services for you. Of course, as Brownlee notes, out of the 800 promised integrations, four are available at launch and all of them seem broken in various ways. Worse, it's not entirely clear that it all isn't just an Android app in a super bright orange hardware shell. Regardless, I suspect Apple will actually roll with a similar core idea here...