The iPad paradox: Less is more
A new trend has emerged where gadget limitations are touted as features
Computerworld - The introduction of Apple's iPad predictably divided gadget fans into "love it" and "hate it" camps.
The haters say iPad lacks multitasking, a webcam, Flash support, a USB port, massive storage, a removable battery, CD and DVD support, RAM upgradability, multiple OS support and other features.
The lovers are less clear about why they want one. So allow me to propose the same list as above. It works just as well. The iPad is desirable for what it doesn't do -- can't do -- as much as for what it can do.
A strange trend has emerged that violates the more-is-better ethos of American consumer culture. Some products and services are touting limitations as desirable "features." And consumers are loving it.
This strikes some as Orwellian doublespeak: "War is peace." "Freedom is slavery." "Less is more."
But the truth is that people don't buy consumer electronics for the quantity of features. They buy it for the quality of experience.
For technical users, having more features means a better experience. So-called power users are harassed and annoyed by limitations, by the inability to do something they want to do. They feel a thrill when they're empowered to do some useful new thing.
But for most users, having more features degrades experience. People suffer information overload and its ugly cousin, runaway gadget complexity. They're harassed and annoyed, not by limitations, but by features they can't find or figure out, and by problems they don't understand. They feel a thrill when gadgets perform basic tasks without fail or hassle.
The vast majority of ordinary PC users I've talked to have problems on their PCs, laptops and netbooks that bother them greatly but they cannot fix. The sound card isn't working right. I can't make this dialog box go away. Why can't I print?
Gadget overcomplexity doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's joined by the growing overcomplexity of life in general. People spend enormous amounts of time and energy these days navigating automated help services and dealing with one complicated mess after another. The relationship between people and their banks, insurance companies, health care providers and government has become hostile, maddening and exhausting.
The last thing people need is PC-related problems they don't understand when, say, paying taxes online.
Technical people always complain about being buttonholed at every family get-together by relatives who want "free tech support." But why do they want this? Why do they need it? The answer is that consumer technology is overly complex.
And whose fault is it?
Unfortunately, it's my fault. And possibly your fault. It's the fault of everyone, including marketers, who relentlessly call for more, more and ever more features. Combine this with our calls for backward compatibility, and the result is systems that do everything. They're so feature-rich, so complex, that some people can't get them to do anything.
- Apple plays hardball with iPad Mini reveal
- Apple breezes to PC sales' top spot as Windows share decays
- Analyst tallies perks of September launch of new iPhone, iPad
- Analyst predicts stellar iPad sales in next week's Apple earnings
- Nexus 7 holds up better than iPad in drop, water-dunk tests
- With iPad Mini, Apple would remain tablet king through '16, says IDC
- Apple demands ipad3.com domain
- Chrome for iOS snatches top spot on App Store
- iPad in the Enterprise: IT Must Stay Ahead of the Curve
- Skepticism mounts over Windows RT's enterprise role
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry Security Works Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts