Posts tagged “feature bloat”

Features vs. Innovation

Although the principal conceit of Apple’s latest Mac vs. PC ad is, as always, “PCs suck,” the ad does a nice job pointing to the difference between innovative thinking and the mere creation of features.


While the cupholder suit that appears at the ad’s end is presented as a joke, many companies do have an unfortunate habit of burdening their products with clunky, grafted-on features as they try to push their ideas into new territory.

Compare the cupholder suit to Apple’s breakaway MagSafe cord, which the ad references. While there’s some debate over how well the Magsafe cord actually does what it’s supposed to, it at least intends to address a real issue that computer manufacturers had previously ignored (people’s cords get tripped on, yanked out).

Discovering that aspect of the user experience – however Apple may have done this – and recognizing it as one worthy of design intervention is the real innovation here.

Take It from Consumers: Simpler Is Better

I’ve got a short article in the latest issue of Photo Reporter (a trade journal for the imaging industry). Check out the PDF here.

These problems should be obvious, yet manufacturers consistently fail to take them into account in their product development efforts. “Ease of use” has become a buzz phrase commonly uttered in consumer electronics circles, but technology manufacturers have a different mindset than their customers. They seem to think people want an endless array of features, and they continue to market products based on that.

We’re finding consumers would trade a lot of the excess functionality built into their digital cameras, cell phones and other devices for a less complicated and ultimately more rewarding user experience. Perhaps now is the time to listen to consumers a little more closely. There’s a significant opportunity for companies to embrace the consumer’s burning desire for simplicity.


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