Joel on Software - “Martian Headsets” - Fortune

Joel on Software - “Martian Headsets”

So far, all is well. We have a de-facto standard for headphone jacks here. The written spec is not complete and not adequate, but anybody who wants to make a compatible headphone just has to plug it into your personal stereo device and test it, and if it works, all is well, they can sell it, and it will work.

Until you decide to make a new version, the Qxyzrhjjjjukltk 2.0.

The Qxyzrhjjjjukltk 2.0 is going to include a telephone (turns out Marslings didn’t figure out cell phones on their own, either) and the headphone is going to have to have a built-in microphone, which requires one more conductor, so you rework the connector into something totally incompatible and kind of ugly, with all kinds of room for expansion:

Completely different 25-conductor connector. And the Qxyzrhjjjjukltk 2.0 is a complete and utter failure in the market. Yes, it has a nice telephone thing, but nobody cared about that. They cared about their large collections of headphones. It turns out that when I said Marslings are very particular about the color of things that they stick in their ears, I meant it. Most trendy Marslings at this point have a whole closet full of nice headphones. They all look the same to you (red), but Marslings are very, very finicky about shades of red in a way that you never imagined. The newest high-end apartments on Mars are being marketed with a headphone closet. I kid you not.

Author Joel Spolsky
Work Martian Headsets