User experience is everything, hardware not so much

User experience is everything, hardware not so much

Summary: Inspiration comes from many sources, and Twitter is a great source. Today Michael Gartenberg sent a simple tweet that captured the very essence of gadget design that hardware makers need to learn.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Inspiration comes from many sources, and Twitter is a great one. Today Michael Gartenberg sent a simple tweet that captured the very essence of gadget design that hardware makers need to learn.

Typo aside, Gartenberg hits the nail on the head, as does Joshua Topolsky in an editorial on Engadget:

It won't be a debate about displays, memory, wireless options -- it will be a debate about the quality of the experience.

Josh's editorial is an excellent examination of the message Apple is sending to debunk the historical belief that super hardware = better gadgetry. Apple has proven time and again that the user experience is the primary thing on any product that will get millions of mainstream consumers to purchase and enjoy using the gadget.

I discussed this in the inaugural episode of the Good to Go show with Noah Kravitz. The geek factor -- faster processors, gobs of RAM, etc., are not what matters in gadgetry any more. The user experience is everything, from the way a device handles users' common tasks to how pleasant that experience is perceived by the device owner.

Throughout my career of covering mobile technology, I have tested almost every smartphone and mobile computer that has hit the market. To get the reaction from "normal" (non-techies) folk, I have always handed the gadget currently under the microscope to each of my family members. Invariably, even though I point out that the device has all of the top features of the day, they play with it for a while and then hand it back to me, along with a comment such as "I don't like the way it does Facebook". Game over for that device with regular people. Apple understands that and competitors better learn it, and fast.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Yeah like some of us haven't been

    saying that for YEARS now:)

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Yes, the funny thing is though, Apple never figured it out on the destkop.

      For years, Apple has been pushing high end hardware that did not help the user experience much. For years competitors had NO trouble beating Apple on price. That all changed with iPad.
      DonnieBoy
      • User Experience was always key to Apple

        @DonnieBoy
        However when IBM the then GOD of everything business related choose MS to provide the OS for PC's everyone and their mother went with DOS and eventually as IBM faltered MS gained the title. So Apple had a difficult job first competing on hardware specs which it never quite wanted to nor did very well and try and unseat the IMAGE of a false God first IBM then MS. Even "IF" Apple managed to gain and keep ahead on "specs" it would still have to face the idea that it's User Experience was no match in the publics eye to the perceived whims of a god. The point of the article is user experience no price is NOT the key factor, nor are features, or specs. The iPod became king and remains so not because of features many a competitor pumped out MP3 players with many more features. Not on price many a competitor had more features and were less expensive.. No the answer was and is user experience. As more people have become aware of this factor Apple has sold more computers as well:)

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Yes, user experience was always key at Apple, but, they ALSO tried to

        compete with very high end hardware that did not do much for the user experience. That made them a niche. With iPad, they decided to go with low end (but very slick well designed) hardware that enabled them to compete on PRICE, for the first time ever.
        DonnieBoy
    • But others want the spec to make something more usefull to them

      @James Quinn
      Think about it - take the number of iPads sold and dived that by the numbers of computer users and that will tell you what percentage view the iPad's user experience as all they need.

      Now, as like with the iPhone where others went with a competing product, that shows that many people wanted something beyond what the iPhone had to offer.

      Specs and user experience is the combination needed to get everyone, not just a small percentage.
      Will Farrell
      • iPads are for different use scenarios, and, it is a luxury item. Not

        everybody has even 500 do spend on an additional computing device.<br><br>Ok, now, here is a question for you. Of all people that read a book on a computer while sitting in an easy chair, how many hold a desktop computer, and how many hold a tablet?<br><br>See how ridiculous your comparison was?
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: User experience is everything, hardware not so much

        @Donnieboy

        I was reading books on my WinMo touchphone3 XDA in 2002 with Office, email and games. I could also write on it. It even worked outside. Now I have a WP7 phone with even higer resolution and if I sit in an easy chair I read it on off my 52 inch LCD connected to a Win 7 computer.

        None of these require an expensive brick.
        tonymcs@...
      • The point is that there are different use cases, and different form factors

        are used for different use cases.
        DonnieBoy
      • DonnieBoy, did you understand the response

        @DonnieBoy
        Mr. Farrell claimed a combination of both would be enticing to many. All you countered with is that some people use it to read, so a tablet like the iPad needs no specs others are looking for.

        You are the one looking ridiculous at the moment
        :|
        Tim Cook
  • But, when will Apple apply this to notebooks and desktops??

    I keep thinking that Apple will deliver much cheaper Arm based notebooks and all-in-one desktops, that focus on user experience. Get rid of the gigabytes of memory, Intel processors, large hard drives.
    DonnieBoy
    • Um my 27&quot; iMac gives me a killer

      @DonnieBoy
      User Experience. Still it is a computer and computers have had to push the "specs" end of the race because well I guess the early models did become over whelmed and seem slow as time went by. So "specs" became the selling feature... However as video cards, processors and memory all became more powerful and dirt cheap the NEED for speed began to get less. That said if you read many a response on these kind of sights you'll see a lot of posters who's mind set is still stuck in the late 80's and early 90's where "spec" is king.... I mean everything to them. They just don't get it at all.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • But, look at the market share difference in tablets vs desktops. On tablets

        Apple focused on the user experience using low end hardware, keeping the price low, and they have 90% of the market. On the desktop, sure, the user experience was better than Windows, but, nothing to write home about, and VERY expensive compared to the competition.
        DonnieBoy
      • The &quot;specs&quot; game may be over

        @James Quinn

        Sure it worked a few years ago back when 90% of the PC's sold were all Windows and the only distinguishing difference between vendor 1 and vendor 2s products were: price and specs. User experience really didn't matter much because they were ALL the same: Windows. The Mac has a better experience, IMHO, but it was still a specs game and Apple had to play it to even get a look by consumers. I don't think specs are completely irrelevant they are just a lot less relevant because the format is new. The software of old isn't going to transfer over and the higher specs mean nothing if the experience is mediocre.
        oncall
      • Imagine a dirt cheap Apple all-in-one with quad core A6 chip, with a better

        user experience than current iMacs, and cheaper than any comparable Windows box.
        DonnieBoy
      • How about a 27&quot; iPad on a stand, with keyboard, no mouse, quad core Arm,

        killer graphics.
        DonnieBoy
    • RE: User experience is everything, hardware not so much

      @DonnieBoy hold your breath.
      slickjim
  • RE: User experience is everything, hardware not so much

    Features matter, implementation just had to be useable.<br><br>Why do you think Android is number 1? Because it provides a decent interface loaded with features on feature packed phones. <br><br> one more thing, you put people in a box and they will start looking for ways to get out.
    slickjim
    • Not so

      @Peter Perry
      To you perhaps but certainly not everyone or I would guess as many as you might think. Why is Android #1? First of all is it? Second of all maybe because the people who want an Apple phone can't either afford one or get one so go with you know the "other" guy who kind of looks a little like the phone I really want:) Just saying. Still my point is this if a product is feature packed to the point where I as a consumer realize I"m not going to be using such features because of the difficulty to get to many a feature, said features have no value to me. User Experience is still king even more so in a feature packed device.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Here's a third option

        @James Quinn
        Where a product is feature packed to the point where I as a consumer realize I'm going to be using such features because they aren't difficult to get to many a feature, said features have a great value to me.

        That could be the reason behind Android's success?
        Will Farrell
      • RE: User experience is everything, hardware not so much

        @James Quinn First of all Android is not #1. Its #2 behind Nokia/Symbian. Apple isn't even in the race as its market share has been flat for over a year. Nokia is loosing share but the only reason they are considered in the race for now is because of the WP7 play. <br><br>People are paying full price for their high end Android devices so theres no excuse about not being able to afford and iPhone. They are all priced the same. Mind you since everyone loves to talk about Verizon pumping up Android they would probably be paying for for their service. So obviously they could afford and iPhone.<br><br>Aside from that the problem with your argument is that you assume you can't get to the features. Contrary to Apple belief, being feature rich does not necessarily mean being overly complicated. In actuality its the iOS/hardware combo thats less intuitive than Android. A single button with a square on it? Swipe to the left of the first screen to search? Where are the item context menus? How do I view my outstanding notifications at a later time? Can I from any communication item with a contact easily jump to another form of communication with that contact? You see minimalism doesn't equal simplicity either. iOS just isn't well thought out for someone making heavy use of a device. Its for lightweight use.<br><br>Simply put...what you all don't want to see is that people are choosing Android over the iPhone because Android actually offers the better experience. A device thats easy to use but lacks many features does not a great experience make. A platform with many features that make life easier presented in an intuitive way is what makes a great experience. Regurgitate all the Jobs "magic" talk all you want but people want intuitive power...not limited simplicity.
        storm14k