What’s More Important: Hardware or Software?

May 12, 2012
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What’s More Important: Hardware or Software?

It’s an age-old question: hardware or software?

On one hand, the hardware is what you hold or have plugged in. Hardware has all of the components that make your particular device work, and without it, the software would not be accessible. The better the hardware, the more appealing (in theory) the experience.

On other hand, we have software. It might not be tangible, but it’s what you interact with most. It’s the software that makes your Mac or PC run, and it’s the software that allows you to send e-mails, write up documents, and engage in just about every other activity on a tech gadget.

I guess at the end of the day, both hardware and software are very important. Both are required for you to perform a task and get done whatever it is you’re working on. And yet, the debate over which is more important -- software or hardware -- rages on.

One of the more vexing issues in trying to solve that debate can arise when evaluating Apple. Nearly everyone can agree that Apple has positioned itself as a hardware company that derives the majority of its profit from its computers, iPhones, and iPads. Without hardware, Apple wouldn’t be Apple.

And yet, without Mac OS X and iOS, Apple wouldn’t be Apple. Can you imagine a world where Apple was a Windows vendor? What are the chances of the company, even with its great-looking laptops, being as profitable as it is now? Moreover, what if Apple had decided to run Android or Windows Phone 7 on its iPhone rather than iOS? Would it deliver the same value proposition?

[aquote]Without Xbox LIVE, the high-powered Xbox 360 wouldn't be so popular[/aquote]

Of course, Apple’s not alone. One of the main reasons the Xbox 360 has been able to attract so many customers is its ability to deliver high-quality graphics through its high-powered hardware components. But without the solid software, Xbox Live, and the applications that extend its functionality, the Xbox 360 wouldn’t be so popular.

I think a valid argument can be made that software is far more important than hardware. No matter how much firepower you build into a device or computer, it’ll fall short if the software can’t take advantage of it. What’s worse, if software is poorly designed and therefore, difficult to use, it doesn’t matter how powerful the device might be -- it’ll be tossed out.

At the same time, try picking up an old computer or an outdated smartphone and try to perform tasks with the latest and greatest software. Notice anything? Yeah, the downright awful experience of trying to get work done on the platform because it needs the greater power not found in the respective product.

In most cases in the technology industry, it’s easy to find a winner. From gaming to smartphones to computers, there are very simple ways to determine what’s better and what’s worse.

But when it comes to the very basis of all technology -- hardware and software -- it’s nearly impossible to choose a winner. And just about everyone has a reason their choice is better than the other.

So, let’s open it up to you: what is more important: hardware or software?


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