If U.S. government contractors had designed the iPhone:
The device she had strapped to her hand was a Harris HTC, which looks either like the ugliest cellphone you’ve ever seen, or a Palm Pilot designed by the US government. We scrolled through bad, inaccurate maps of the area, which looked like they’d been dumped from an early version of MapQuest, wondering how the ridgeline behind my house had magically been transformed into a navigable road, and talked about the device.Here's a hint, it was the second one:
Well, Harris is a huge government and military contractor, which recently announced its intention to swallow Tyco Wireless, another huge government electronics contractor. Given that all their customer testemonials come from military personnel, my guess is that they don’t have much of a consumer products division. Neither do the folks who lost out on the bids, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.Okay, as you read the article on thing stands out. How pathetic must you feel if you work on one of the losing big companies? You couldn't beat the HTC discussed in the article? Ouch!
Commenter Faffnir wants to justify the decision by stating:
Having worked in procurement for the Air Force many years ago, the question of why the Census Bureau didn’t buy an off-the-shelf unit is answered easily.Now the MIL-SPEC argument is one that I've heard before, mostly from beleagured OEM manufacturers watching their perfectly suitable off-the-shelf technology miss out on its biggest applicability because they don't feel like spending millions auditing to conform to some obscure frequency-modulation protocol. It seems a solid argument (well, solid in the explanation at least. "Because the law we write says we have to be dumb" maybe doesn't work when you dig too deep), until you notice one obscure fact that seems to have been missed.
There is a Federal law, and sorry, I’ve forgotten the citation, which basically says that everything that the Government buys must be made to Government specification and cannot be used for any other purpose. Even the machinery to make the government part can’t be used to make an equivalent civilian piece. Something simple like combat boots must be made to MIL spec and you can’t make the same boot for the civilian market. The government spec for a glass ashtray was something like 24 pages. Those $600 hammers? Close to 100 pages of spec. We had to hand make two custom circuit boards for an electronic switch at a cost of $5,000 each. IBM’s civilian price? About $300 for the pair. This was in the late ’70’s.
Your Government at work.
The U.S. Army already uses the iPod Touch.
(Those who find the post title vaguely familiar can swing over this way)