The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Activision Blizzard, iPhone 4s, and Acura

By Corey Conley

The Good: Activision-Blizzard

Activision blizzard black and blue logo

Activision-Blizzard, the video game titan responsible for such blockbusters as World of Warcraft and Starcraft, announced that the game Diablo III would allow players to buy and sell equipment and in-game currency for real dollars, raising the specter of people making a living from slaying Internet dragons.

Although gaming purists cried foul, Nvate sees this as a brilliant stroke that is likely to stem the tide of gold-sellers and hackers into Diablo III. This phenomenon has become rampant in the popular World of Warcraftmassively multiplayer game.

Currently, the best ways to get in-game currency in online games usually involves repetitive and time-consuming tasks – the new system allows people to use the money they earn from real-life tedium: their jobs.

A system that allows players to trade in-game currency for real world currency helps those players with more time than money (the stereotypical teenager in his parents’ basement) and those who have more money than time (the growing legions of gamers with a full-time jobs and families).

Here’s hoping the Diablo III system is just a start… and the IRS doesn’t catch wind of this.

The Bad: iPhone 4s

iPhone 4s all models standing up together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the iPhone 4S, as its record-breaking sales (1 million in the first 24 hours) will attest to. The 4S saw significant upgrades to the 4’s interior components and camera, but as Apple’s first big post-Steve Jobs product, the phone did little to allay fears about Apple’s future.

Apple needed to show the world that it was more than one man – that it has the deep reservoir of talent and vision needed to maintain its fusion of technology and style. Instead it rolled out the kind of evolutionary step one would expect from its competitors. When we were expecting the iPhone 5, Apple gave us the iPhone 4.5.

Apple has always stood alone, and for good reason, but a few more half steps like this and they’ll just be part of the crowd.

The Ugly: Honda & Acura Styling

Honda Acura car ugly beak

Honda is known for building cars that are safe, economical, and fun to drive, but the past few years have lead some to question the company.

Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there’s no question in why Honda is on the “Ugly” list. Its once comely Acura division is now adorned with the brand’s new, beak-like schnoz. The ugly-stick is also at work on its main brand, beating the Accord Crosstour, Pilot SUV, and CR-V compact SUV.

All that would still be forgivable if their products still upheld the innovative engineering tradition that the company hard-earned over its last few decades. Instead, it seems content to march in place.

The CR-Z hybrid two offers hybrid performance and price with the utility and style of a two-seat sports car. What could have been a fun-to-drive runabout was ruined when Honda decided to shoe-horn its unremarkable, but practical, hybrid drive system into an impractical car. The result is a slow, mediocre sports car with so-so gas mileage and negligible utility.

It’s 2012 Honda Civic redesign resulted in a car that failed to improve upon its highly praised 2006 predecessor. (Coincidentally, it’s the first generation of the Civic sold only in North America and not in Honda’s homeland, Japan.)

Except for a 3 mpg bump in efficiency, the car disappointed with numb handling, the same engine, similar styling, poor interior plastics, and a five-speed transmission in a category where six speeds is the norm. The lack-luster effort lost the car its long-held recommendation by the prominent consumer ratings agency Consumer Reports, who rated it seven out of eight competitors.

In a bright note, Honda is listening to the complaints. They recently said they are pushing up their next redesign of the Civic to come a year earlier than planned. As a proud Honda owner, I hope they get their ship righted. Don’t make me buy a Mazda.

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