Tag Archives: iPhone

Geeks still don’t know what normal people want

If you listen to geeks, locking out development of third-party applications will doom the iPhone in the market. But remember the now-famous review when the iPod was released:

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

The market quickly decided they didn’t care about wireless and bought the things in droves. And current versions have more space than the nomad did when the iPod came out. Now that the iPhone has been shown, geeks are again claiming that it’s going to fail. This time because it’s not going to be open to third-party applications.

Apple doesn’t care if you can extend it because they believe their target customer doesn’t want it extended. They want something that works well, the same way, every time. The iPod wins because it does pretty much what people want, close enough to how they want, without making them think about how to do it.

The iPhone may not be open to developers, but it’s upgradable. When Apple finishes writing software to make the Wi-Fi automatically pick up a hotspot and act as a VoIP phone, that functionality can be rolled out transparently. First-gen iPhones will become second-gen iPhones without the users having to do anything.

The upgrade path will be to higher HD capacity, so people can carry more movies with them. I see these things as hugely popular for people who take trains to work. If I could take a train where I work now, I’d already be on a waiting list for an iPhone.

What is Steve Jobs thinking?

We all knew Cisco had the trademark on the name. According to their press release:

“Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco’s iPhone name,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco. “There is no doubt that Apple’s new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.”

They negotiated, Cisco said no. So they release it anyway. And Apple’s response is:

Apple responded by saying the lawsuit was “silly” and that Cisco’s trademark registration was “tenuous at best”.

“We think Cisco’s trademark lawsuit is silly,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said. “There are already several companies using the name iPhone for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) products.”

It’s “silly”? Come on, that sounds like they’re daring Cisco to take it to court. And claiming that the trademark has already been diluted by other products is a dangerous game. If that argument prevails, then Apple will have no standing to prevent anyone else from releasing their own iPhone.

What the hell are they thinking?

[Update]

See the Joel on Software forums for some discussion of this.

Design = function + aesthetics

Ask your local programmer if he knows how to design user interfaces and invariably he’ll say he does. Go ahead, ask. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good. Now go look at the new iPhone. Has your guy ever made anything remotely that cool? Unless you’re reading this from Cupertino, odds are he hasn’t. The UI is more beautiful and, as near as I can tell from the demo movies, more usable than any other phone or music player I’ve seen. But I wonder, how much of the perceived usability is a response to the beauty?

It’s becoming conventional wisdom that you don’t want to make the demo look done. Excessive visual polish early in the process not only limits the feedback you get to comments about the superficial details, it also suggests equally finished interaction with the system. It literally makes it look like it’s doing more than it really is doing.

I’ve avoided this problem in my career by not being very good at graphics, and avoided realizing that by not working with any real visual artists to compare my work to. Yes, I used to think I was good at it, just like every programmer. Eventually I realized that consistency and predictability were a poor subset of what an artist can add.

Now, whenever I make up a project plan, there is a task at the end for “Add Pretty”. And my name isn’t on that task.