Hearing, Not Listening

Hey Samsung, something is missing from this shitty iPhone imitation you’re launching.
…a shot of the software it runs.
Samsung SGH-P520
Samsung, Motorola, Nokia – you all know how to make a beautiful looking phone. Now you need to take a step back. You need to start thinking about design in other areas of your business. You need to start giving the phone’s interface as much TLC as you do to the outer shell.
This will probably be a painful process for some companies, but without struggle, we don’t get any progress. Some of you will have to partner with companies who do know software, others will take the risk and dive into the software development themselves.
The problem is, none of this is happening. Apple’s competitors are taking 2 wrong directions.
They are:
A. trying to out-feature Apple’s products
B. trying to approximate the design of Apple’s products

Regarding A

Unless your offering a product as easy and fun to use as a competitor, offering dozens of more bells and whistles is not going to get you anywhere. Proof of this idea surfaces every time I ask someone in my office how they feel about their iPhone, two weeks after purchasing.
10 times out of 10 I get this response:

I wish the iPhone had x, y and z features, but its still the best phone I’ve ever used.

So everyone I talk to is well aware of the iPhone’s shortcomings, but they still love it. Keep this in mind if you decide to develop a phone with GPS, 10 megapixel camera, waterproof shell, flashlight, nail file, and an *AM/FM tuner.

Regarding B

The idea here is to be cool by association. To use the iPod as an example and to get a little extreme, Apple’s competitors have reacted as if the iPod was the ideal digital music player (DMP), in the tradition of *Plato’s ideal forms. If you look at the majority of DMP’s out there since 2001, they approximate the style of the iPod in some way or another.
Microsoft tried something similar when they launched Vista. They tried to copy the the shiny GUI of OS X, but they merely copied the style, not the design. They forgot to make Vista usable. When you get down to it, Vista is XP with some sugar coating. Microsoft essentially put lipstick on a pig.


Heed to design. Weave it into every aspect of your projects, from the inside out. If you design a sexy looking car, but the interior and dashboard controls are impossible to use, you still have a shitty product. You’ve dropped the ball.
If you want to steal something from a company like Apple, how about you steal their passion for great design?

*Speaking of which, can someone please tell me why having a radio tuner in your digital music player is a feature? Have you listened to FM radio in the last 20 years? I can’t understand why someone with thousands of songs and videos on their iPod would want to listen to the drivel they play on the radio.

*If you’re not familiar with this, Plato believed there was a heavenly, ‘ideal’ form for objects in the world from which everything else is based on. For instance, there exists somewhere, an ideal, perfect chair, from which all other chairs get their chairness.