One of the posts I wrote in August, What products drive you insane and how could they be improved? had a great comment from Jon Burg that is definitely worth sharing.
Jon, of the Future Visions blog wrote:
I've said this time and time again, more doesn't equal better. Ultimately we utilize technology to drive towards a goal, for the voice function cell phones it's communication, for digital cameras it's about preserving a moment, for a computer mouse it's about interface and elemental control.
There is a rash of new "2.0" companies offering "more", but few are truly delivering "whatever you're doing now, do it with us better - read: easier and more naturally".
Find yourself wanting to argue with him?
I did at first. It's easy to be seduced by the lure of flashy new technology and a slew of sexy new features. Every month, the internet is buzzing with the latest gotta-have-it product that does everything anyone could every want it to do.
But does that every-thing-but-the-kitchen-sink purchase actually do what you really wanted it for?
Three weeks ago, a good friend of mine purchased a new cell phone, the Nokia N73. It has a fantastic zoom on the camera, the ability to edit phots and upload them to Flickr "on the go", a music player, email capabilities, pc back-up functions, online games and even a barcode scanner.
It was pretty impressive.
Fast forward two weeks. My friend wakes up in the morning to discover that his brand-new phone--that had been sitting untouched on the table all night--won't work. Why? The large, formerly-drool-worthy 2.5 inch color screen had cracked overnight.
And, without that fabulously technologically-advanced screen, the phone is completely useless. Not only can't my friend do any of the fancy stuff, he can't even call others. If the phone rings, he can answer it. That's it.
This is exactly what Jon was talking about. My friend was seduced to buy a flashy new phone that "does everything" on top of being a phone.
But, when Nokia tried to make the phone do "more", they concentrated so much on the additional features that they neglected to make the phone reliable.
One tiny glitch, and my friend is left with a useless device that cannot fulfill his need for a phone.
Innovation is marvelous, but is it worth adding on so many features that the most important function of a technology--in this case, the phone's ability to send and receive calls--is endangered.
A phone can have all the fancy bells and whistles, but if it doesn't help people communicate, it's still a miserable failure.