A raft of new touchscreen phones were showcased at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. The handset fashion of 2009 will be the touchscreen, just as smaller phones were in the late 90s and slimline handsets were earlier this decade.
Much of this has been driven by the success of Apple’s iPhone. Ask someone in the street what is special about Apple and they will invariably mention how cool the company is and what a great brand it has.
Some of the more astute observers might mention the fact Apple’s products are really easy to use.
Whilst Apple will always have an incredibly loyal following, the Thomas Edison quote about genius being one percent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration is as true about the iPhone as anything else.
Apple’s differentiation comes not from some mystical brand power but from an obsessive focus on solving the issues around how human beings interact with complex products. Apple invests significant time, money and effort in solving problems to deliver compelling experiences that people find easy to interact with.
So, the touchscreen on an iPhone is a means to an end; it is Apple’s solution to enabling someone to complete multiple tasks on one device simply and easily.
What is special about the iPhone is not how it looks but the hard work that has gone into understanding people’s needs and behaviours, and delivering a solution that is intuitive and fun.
Apple does not have a monopoly on delivering great user experiences.
Handset manufacturers that understand this will know there is more than one way to deliver compelling experiences, and will create their own solutions.
Full article in Mobile News issue 435 (March 23, 2009).
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