Category Archives: design

Ad Humor: Herding cats

This is an oldie but a goody. This often reminds me of work. Its a great concept that ties together the complexity of EDS services in an easy to understand metaphor.

Is Apple growing out of touch??

I doubt very much that I am suggesting anything new here. But there are two areas that I fee Apple is a bit out of touch with the market:

iPhone Keyboard is a required offering.

I Believe the iPhone is one feature away from dominating the Enterprise AND the consumer space for smartphones/micro PCs. Steve needs to back down on his touch only mantra and design a real keyboard that slides out underneath the entire phone (a la Sony Xperia or these concepts). Apple has created a new market and ecosystem for these usable small computers that people can  lean on for most of their personal personal computing. Whats missing is a real keyboard.

Witness the thousands of teens glued to their QWERTY text messaging hardware or Blackberries. Teens are  the sweet spot for Apple’s consumer strategy. In the enterprise, to satisfy the needs of the QWERTY addicted  and really impress the large enterprises about the fact the iPhone is a true portable productivity tool, they need to build something that actually works the without any education. Ironically, I think the iPhone keypad is one of the only things Apple has  designed in a few years that requires a lot of knowledge to use properly.  Now I love my iphone, but I definitely catch myself doing less mobile mail on it due to the cludgyness of the keyboard for my hands. I prefer SMS because it allows me to be less formal and I dont have to type as much. I belive this is a lost opportunity for Apple and they need to listen to users on this one.

We need an Apple NetBook (NetMac?) yesterday…

The Hackintosh meme has left the station and its only going to get more momentum. I  and many others will likely buy a sub $400 netbook and install OSX in the coming 6 months. Personally,  I need a commuting machine and the Air is overpriced for what I need. I want somethign small to throw into a bag that I can pound out mail on the train. I also would likely use this machine for travel and weekends, rather than bringing my larger desktop laptop. Since the MobileMe sync services are working so well, it really doesn’t matter what machine I am on…everything on every machine should theoretically sync. Its working for me today on the multiple machines I use. Apple is a design company, and they design great hardware. The netbook is an opportunity to do something that is uniquely Apple and a lower cost. I believe, like the iPhone/iPod, the Apple experience on a netbook will create a great channel to recruit new converts. That and I don’t want to write a check to Dell…

What do you think…are they getting these things ready or are they going to ignore the market and push everything into the new multi-touch technology (including a netbook)??

Well Produced “Future Piece” from Microsoft

This is a really nicely produced piece MSFT did about what they believe the future will look like, conveniently including the use of  future software and haptic technologies.

What’s funny about this video is that all the UIs in the video imply that in the future, Microsoft will have had some pretty serious changes of thought about the emphasis on great design. I would venture a guess that most of the concept UIs in this piece were created by designers not engineers.

I look forward a future when good design has a more strategic role in burying complexity to make our lives mote productive.

So Microsoft AND Seinfeld have officially jumped the shark??

From the journal:  Microsoft Enlists Jerry Seinfeld In Its Ad Battle Against Apple

Perhaps the Bee Movie didn’t do too well and old Jerry’s trying to remain relevant. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of his show…years of laughter from him, George and Kramer.

But this reeks a bit of desperation from both sides.. I hope they pull this off well for both their sake. Granted I am an Apple guy, so I am biased, but if this campaign comes off as defensive or in any way campy, both Seinfeld and MSFT will be the brunt of jokes for years to come.

Having said all that, I am glad MSFT has stepped up to defend Vista, as I believe its their best effort yet and I use it weekly when I have to use a windows box…they have finally paid some attention to design and its paying off, albeit slowly. Further, MSFT should step up and defend themselves, they have built some very good products over the years, though many may not agree with their design approach.

Any Seinfeld or MSFT fans disagree?

Why the iPhone won’t dominate in business email…yet

short answer: The keyboard and lack of push email.

long answer: While on the road recently, I was forced to use the email functions in the iphone more than I had in the past. The vertical mail keyboard is too narrow for my big hands and often the predictive software slows down the process of writing a quick email. The lack of feedback from the screen hurts here. I also get really annoyed by the constant delays in response do to client server communications. The “typewriter” effect seems to jam up like the very machines they are emulating!
solution: as a temporary fix, they need to let the keyboard go horizontal in the mail app. This will lessen mistakes and speed up the use of the keyboard and lower reliance on the predictive software.

The long term fix is to use a slider with a real keyboard like the latest sony device or some of the LG units.

Sonyslider

Knowing how Ive and Jobs solve problems, my thought is that the next gen of the hardware may have some sort of integrated (well designed!) keyboard that makes interacting with text more intuitive. When the speeds promised in the 3G handsets reaches ubiquity a solid input interface will be critical to the iPhones market penetration. Apple will have to eat humble pie (or come up with a phenomenal voice entry solution!)

Most of you that have had the device for a while now and are heavy users have probably found these same issues. Let us know what you think.

2008 Predictions

  1. Design and user experience will continue thier progression to the front of the classroom when the lecture turns to technology adoption and digital lifestyles. Apple will reap the rewards from this trend due to its product-centric design principles.
  2. “Meta” Social networks such as Facebook and MySpace will lose popularity as other more focused niche social networks come to market that specifically address the needs of thier users.
  3. As the recssion hits, more marketers will push more of thier budget into measureable online media at the expense of radio, print and TV. The trend will be toward more revshare and CPA marketing and less brand advertising.
  4. Marketers will adjust thier budgets to more accurately capture the 20% of user time spent on online media (today ~7.5% of thier budgets are allocated to online media). The gap will close even more rapidly in ’09.
  5. The volume of content uploaded to the web will create a Faustian Bargain…users will have a more difficlt time finding relevant content and seek solutions to help them filter through the crap.
  6. More of the mainstream web userbase will earn revenue from thier activities on the web and realize the financial benefit of contributing to the conversation.
  7. Google will make more money. Steve Balmer will get angry again.
  8. HBO’s Flight of the Conchords will redeem thier poor season finale episode with an all star performance of the Rolling Stone’s smash hit Monkey Man

This post originally appeared here.

iPhone: first impressions

The first thing that struck me had nothing to do with the hardware at all.

The phone came with no manual.

It is such an incredible accomplishment to design something that has such inherent complexity and yet be able to execute all the functions on the phone so that they are self evident. This is another illustration of why Apple will continue to win in the consumer electronics space. If there was any doubt prior about Apple being a design company first, this concludes the argument.

The only complaint I have so far with the phone is something which is beyond Apple’s control. Over 12 hours after beginning the activation process, I still have not been able to use the phone…I am still waiting on AT+T to send the activation to the phone. I am forced to sit an oogle at the graceful design of the hardware and the elegant integration with iTunes. Apple designed the entire experience up to the point when they had to rely on the carrier and they executed it perfectly. I imagine the folks at AT+T are beside themselves with the number of activations they are doing right now.

As far as what I do know about the phone from playing with it at the 5th Ave Apple store:

  • Its UI is fast and responsive
  • Its feel is solid and seems very durable
  • The screen is magnificent
  • It takes about 30 seconds to figure everything out
  • The keyboard will take some getting used to…I am coming from the blackberry where there is very clear tactile response to keys
  • The packaging is also very elegant and simple and the experience of opening it is just plain fun
  • Did I mention there is no manual?

More to come as I play with the activated phone…