I’ve become skeptical of arguments of the form “X is a better technology, but people won’t quit using Y.”
Comparisons of technologies are multi-faceted. When someone says “X is better than Y” I want to ask “By all criteria? There’s nothing better about Y?”
When people say X is better but Y won, it’s often the case that they think the criteria by which X is better are most important, but a majority placed more weight on the criteria by which Y is better.
Some plausible explanations for why people stick with Y:
- X is better than Y for some tasks, but not many people consider those tasks most important.
- X is marginally better than Y, but not enough better to justify the costs of switching.
- X was better than Y, but they didn’t do the work of letting people know about it and explaining why it was better.
- X is technically better than Y, but the personalities associated with X turn people off.
Sometimes the better alternative simply doesn’t win. The race doesn’t go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But often a broader perspective explains why the winner won.
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