What the iPhone says about user experience

What the iPhone says about user experience

Summary: It turns out the iPhone is pretty damn popular. Those of us following the digeratiy scene could probably have told the analysts that but even these numbers are impressive.

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It turns out the iPhone is pretty damn popular. Those of us following the digeratiy scene could probably have told the analysts that but even these numbers are impressive. 6.892 million iPhones sold in the quarter for a total of 12.992 million and more importantly, it gave Apple a revenue boost to the tune of $806 million. Not chump change by any stretch. And what made iPhone arguably the greatest gadget of a generation? The user experience.

Sure the multi-touch stuff is great, and it adds, but the iPhone is a nearly flawless device from the silicon to the software. It's exactly what most people want in a phone and it helped show that the vision of "one device that does almost everything" was actually possible. Some of that is good hardware engineering, but largely it's due to software and how that software links all the pieces. Look at how easy it is to sync the iPhone with your music, photos, or applications. And how easy it is to purchase those things. That's good software design.

When you nail the user experience, you go mainstream and you make a lot of money. Web 2.0 has given us a ton of great building blocks. Social networking, the web as a delivery mechanism, real time collaboration, the cloud - all of those things really started becoming realities during the Web 2.0 boom. So from a technology standpoint, we've established a good baseline. But in order to really make a difference you've got to put a better experience on it. That's essentially the promise of rich Internet applications. And as more and more companies pour money and resources into design, you're going to start seeing real, tangible dividends in terms of user adoption and revenue.

Web 2.0 came along and turned software on its head. The software business is having to rethink how it does things. And as part of that transformation, design and experience are taking center stage. With the plethora of design-centric software development platforms out there, it's never been more fun and interesting to build software. It's one reason why I'm excited about RIAs and also why it's great to see the iPhone do so well. If you put the design time in, you are going to be more successful. Keep that in mind as you're looking to build the new generation of software.

Topics: iPhone, Browser, CXO, Mobility, Software, IT Employment

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14 comments
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  • "one device that does almost everything" ???

    There were plenty of smart phones before the iPhone. The iPhone doesn't do flash (Adobe, or camera), java, I don't know if they fixed the Exchange Server thing but it doesn't do tactile keyboards feedback.

    You say the iPhone is about user experience but everyone I know who has one complains about it, and all of them have called Apple at least once. The 3G doesn't get reception, the touch screen keyboard is hard to use, you can only sync with one gmail account, etc...

    I'd say the iPhone's success is due more to fashion, cachet, and marketing than user experience. Pretty things sell, this is nothing new.
    T1Oracle
    • No, But The IPhone Is WAY Better Than Windows Mobile

      I've used both, and I'll take the 2nd-gen IPhone over the mess that is Windows mobile anyday.
      itanalyst2@...
      • Thanks for letting us know your personal preferences

        and dislikes of WM. The latter does not generalize to the rest of the population.
        markbn
        • Yep, Tell 13 Million and Counting That

          How is that a generalization again?
          itanalyst2@...
          • Raw numbers

            Assume that all 13 million are in the US, which isn't even remotely accurate, but we'll assume it anyway.

            300,000,000 people in the US, 78% of Americans have cell phones (according to a recent study). 78% of 300,000,000 is 234,000,000. 13,000,000 is 6% of 234,000,000.

            6%. So, like the guy said, your assertion doesn't generalize out to everyone. 13 million is a lot of units, and some people seem to like them (most people I know that have one have a list of things they can't stand about it, but I assume that these hates are countered by things they love or they would have returned them, right?). But get real, it's not like everyone has one, by an extremely large stretch. In the grand scheme of things, they are still pretty rare.
            laura.b
      • On the other hand...

        ...I've used both the iPhone and the Omnia and much prefer the latter.

        Go me.
        Sleeper Service
    • almost...

      almost everything.. means almost everything... not everything, so of course you can list some stuff it doesn't do.

      Java would be nice, its being worked on... Flash would be nice, its also being worked on (adobe actually says its working, but they are trying to get apple to sign off on it)... tactile response? personal preference thing I guess, I vastly perfer the current visual response myself, quick and easy to use. You dont really want to sync on a gmail account, it defaults to using IMAP, which doesnt give gmail an archive option, just delete... so your losing all your old email forever. i set up all my gmail accounts manually with POP, so that if i need an old email, i can still log in and get it from archive.

      I haven't had to call Apple... my iPhone 3G works fantastic... its easy to use, nothing complicated about it, and it gets the job done. Its a tool i use to get things done, not a gadget i play with to try to get it working.
      doh123
  • The people I know love it

    Myself included.

    We agree it's not perfect but it's darn close.
    itguy08
  • RE: What the iPhone says about user experience

    Having owned a blackberry, yeah you're right. The experience on a BB is terrible!

    I haven't used windoze mobile on a phone, just on a PDA back in the day, but it was... well like using windows.

    The iPhone is easily fashion, but don't be fooled. It changes the game for mobile devices (Not mobile phones). My wife doesn't have one. She uses a her phone to talk to people.

    The iPhone is more than a phone so the people that complain, I suspect are people who bought one, to use only as a phone. It's no more a phone than a laptop is a desktop.
    johnWilkerEUI
  • RE: What the iPhone says about user experience

    I have both BB and iPhone, and I have to say I'm dissapointed big time with the iPhone. It lacks of features for a normal nowdays mobile phone, let alone being voted "combination of mobile and small PC" - sorry but that's rubbsih.

    Not many you can do without jailbraking the iPhone. Even some basic features: No copy paste, no notes sync, no video record (i mean even a small $150 phone comes with it), no MMS (again... I thought Apple will be big on this one).

    Another thing... I don't mind it's locked down, but apple need to allow their customers to customised their phone more than just the background image. It's not even capable of letting the users to use MP3 as their ring tone.

    I was really looking forward to the iPhone - i must say i have never been dissapointed by Apple up until i experience the iPhone.

    Dion -QLD
    eagle3y35
  • It's the consumers smart phone

    The basic iPhone is simple for the average
    consumer and the free apps on the
    AppStore increases that simplicity and
    value.

    I've downloaded 30+ free apps and payed
    99 cents for one. A few apps are for me,
    a few for my wife and a lot for my 6 year
    old granddaughter and 4 year old
    grandson.

    Since I'm retired I don't have to worry on
    the tech side and I've found it's possible
    to make the iPhone what I want it to be.

    That's probably more important for a user
    experience than anything else.
    Ken_z
  • iPhone v my previous Nokia and Sony Ericsson

    OK, my Nokia could take video. They were really crap videos and little capacity. It had to be replaced 2x in one year because keys just stopped working altogether.

    The Sony Ericsson iXXX was a cute phone, too. But it too had to be replaced because a key stopped working.

    Both of my iPhones have worked perfectly since I bought them. They were both cheaper than the previous smart phones I had (the Nokia was 587 Euros in 2005 and I never saw one complaint about the price or of it being bought because it was cool.)

    I could never get email or the internet to work on either of the smartphones. The iPhone had mail on it the first time I tried.

    I would like video on the iPhone and somebody made an app for that I think. But that is not a reason not to buy it, I haven't missed it. If I need a video I make it with my MBA.
    mlindl
  • RE: What the iPhone says about user experience

    apple spend time and money to make sure customers are happy. that's the best advertisement money can buy. they take care and treat you with respect on the phone and inside their stores.I'm new to apple. I don't believe last 3 years calling and begging HTC to help me or give me a updated fix and they never did and when they put any files on the net it asked for serial number then stated that your device not included.
    daveazadi
  • RE: What the iPhone says about user experience

    I have one. I must agree it is darn near perfect. Not a single
    problem. Comparing it to smart phones, not a fair
    comparison, since they aren't smart and not even good
    phones.
    shaddickmapes