Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Lame Game Of Using The Same Name

(Both Griffin Technology & Newer Technology have FM transmitters called The RoadTrip)

* Originally published August 19, 2004 *

From The iTunes Music Store: The Name Game ~ Taj Mahal

This is a tough one. I like both of these companies, but there's a problem here. I love Griffin products and most of the company's designs and ideas; it's not to say they don't have problems. I suppose all companies have a few things wrong with them. The good news about the RadioShark is; that eventhough it was delayed YET AGAIN! (From an announced mid July release date) - I have first hand knowledge that it finally is a real product. In fact, it is the second most useful peripheral (next to my Sony Ericcson T616 bluetooth cell phone) that I have ever owned for my Mac. (And I have owned almost every known gadget or Mac peripheral to ever exist) I have to send a sincere "Thank you" out to Griffin for letting me have a preproduction unit to beta test. Finally, I have AM Talk Radio with no batteries or clunky clocks to deal with - and best of all I can record radio directly to my Mac!

Moving on to Newer Technology. To be honest, if FixYourThinking had existed at the time when Newer Technology declared bankruptcy, went out of business, and then sold off their assets; there would have been at least two stories about them. Newer Technology in it's original form was a very innovative company. They forever have my heart for releasing the coolest PowerBook Duo Docks. That said, Newer's support was abyssmal, especially when they got into the G3 upgrade business. Since then, they dissolved and have now re-emerged as a subsidary of Other World Computing; who bought part of the assets of the original company. Newer Technology as it exists today, makes OWC's Mercury line of G3 and G4 processor upgrades and higher capacity batteries for PowerBooks, amongst other things. NewerTech's, original owners and employees, moved on to form a storage peripheral company called WiebeTech and another company called QuickerTek.

Addendum August 20 2004: A reader noted that there was actually a fourth company that came of the original Newer Technology solvency; TechnoWarehouse. This company distributes items from the three other brands and few other odds and ends.

The interesting part about QuickerTek and WiebeTech is that they are VERY high priced product distributors. QuickerTek is slightly different, in that they actually offer a service of value. They sell products and upgrade services to extend the range of Airport Wireless on Macs. This is being very kind in this desciption though; the PowerBook antennas are the silliest, most overpriced, pieces of crap I have ever seen a company offer. It destroys the elegance and ease of use of the wireless experience. Their Airport Base Station antennas however, are a great solution. As for WiebeTech, I can't be 100% positive on this, but it doesn't seem like they produce a single original product. Seems like they are simply a rebrander. Their drives come at about a 20% premium over other sellers - selling the exact same products.

I'm not sure if Other World Computing, a company whom I have a lot of respect for, is running Newer Technology or whether it's independent. I do know that the only outlet for a new product that Newer Technology is offering; is Other World. Here's that product:

Hello! It's named RoadTrip! Griffin Technology gave a press release for their RoadTrip on August 12, 2004 (and had announced this product in April). The two products have somewhat similar functionality, in that, they are both FM radio transmitters. I don't see why Newer Technology would choose to name their product the RoadTrip. Griffin has a substantial lead time on the name with an established line of "trip accessories" - the iTrip FM transmitter for iPods and the iTripMINI for the iPod mini. Griffin's product is also an original product where it's clear that the Newer Technology is just some gadget from a Taiwanese source.

It's bad enough that the two companies have an FM transmitter by the same name, but in case you didn't catch this similarity, I'll point it out to you.

Griffin Technology

Newer Technology

I think this will lead to a lot of consumer confusion over the manufacturer of the product, even though they are obviously different devices. But the real problem lies within my technical observation of the NewerTechnology offering. Notice that it plugs into the cigarette lighter to draw power for the transmission. Notice that the other end goes into the headphone port on the iPod. Sounds goes from the iPod to the adapter end and the adapter transmits the audio to 107.7FM. There is no way I would plug my iPod into the cigarette lighter in this fashion. (Especially into a port that is not used for power!) When you start your car, you can often times, especially in the dry winter season, send a lot of volatage throughout your car. This is one of the number one reasons cell phones batteries die. People start their car with the car charger in their cellphone, just slightly surging it each time.

The Griffin RoadTrip also plugs into the cigarette lighter, but the power is routed through the proper dock port, minmizing the situation I described above.

So look Newer, if you're gonna rebrand a product like the other arms of the former Newer Technology, at least name it something original!

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