you put them through a wind tunnel
RIM’s Jeff McDowell reacting to HP’s Jon Oakes claim that RIM is copying HP with their Playbook tablet (via LatopMag):
I feel that we set out from the ground up to define a Human Experience that we felt would delight our customers, and we landed in a place that may look like other competitive devices. But there was no intention and no preconceived notion that this is what we want to end up looking like. In fact, I think QNX had that design lined up before we even started working with them.
You know, cars over time end up looking a lot alike because you put them through a wind tunnel, and when you’re trying to come up with the best coefficient to drag ratio, there’s one optimized shape that gets the best wind resistance, right? Well, when you’re trying to optimize Human Experience that juggles multitasking, multiple apps open at once and on a small screen, you’re going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs.
I always love when car analogies end up in tech stories and I can understand McDowell’s point of view.
There’s always going to be overlap in user interfaces on computers. It happened when Steve Jobs created the Macintosh after seeing Xerox PARC’s work on the GUI, then the same thing happened when Microsoft released Windows 95, an OS heavily influenced by the Mac OS.
But as with any creative endeavor there’s a line between inspiration and duplication.