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  #1  
Old 06-01-2010, 10:43 PM
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How long until Function overtakes Form again?

A snow-bound look around the phone world at what's popular and what's hot - and my annoyance that yet again Form is leading Function (e.g. "I just want something that's pretty and with a touchscreen"). Mind you, I'm a self-confessed geek and I don't have any clothes sense, so what do I know? Read on for a Steve rant...

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 06-01-2010, 10:53 PM
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There is a reason the touchscreen fell out of favour the first time, and Apple addressed it... the stylus. Once you had a capacitive touchscreen it took someone to optimise it for the finger - not a geeky and easy to lose plastic or metal stick - to really get things going again.

Part of the beauty of Android is that it's not one form factor, you can have it with or without a slide out keyboard (and that keyboard can slide out in a number of different ways), you can have it with a trackball or a D-pad, and it can't be long before we see flip and 'berry form factors running Android.

2010 is the year Android goes mainstream. The iPhone will end up being to Android and Symbian what the Mac is to the PC - i.e. the (expensive) choice of the style concious, with a few redeeming features.

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:58 PM
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I should imagine you're going to get a lot of responses on this post Steve. ^_^

It's just so tempting to attempt to separate form from function. But we are coming into the post Microsoft age where form and function share DNA. Simply lumping a whole bunch of underdeveloped (and often untested!) features together into a tidy but generally unfriendly package is what tech companies used to do.

My guess for market spread? 10 years from now 95% of handheld devices will be pocket computers and 95% of those will be touch, voice and camera only controlled.
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:05 PM
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Reply to 'Unregistered': There's no reason to believe that the phone market will play out like the PC market of the 90's. People said *exactly* the same thing about the MP3 player market. The Zune was going to crush the iPod and all that...
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:29 PM
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while this article is a nice conversation starter, it is really just that - a piece to incite some debate.

but if people think about it, there really shouldn't be a debate about this. the things that win with the consumer in this day and age are the things that are popular - no matter how crippled a phone may be (iPhone, a feature phone, for example) if it is something that will gain the envy of your peers, then it is the phone that will ultimately win amongst the general public.

i don't believe that function will ever really be back in fashion. today's culture is much more obsessed with appearances and and superficial interests. as Steve quite succinctly points out..."something that looks pretty, and has a touchscreen" is the soup du jour. and will be for many more days.

the amount of people who have been aghast at my E90 Communicator, or my recent N900...their protestations of "oh my god, how can you use that thing? it's too big!". no, you simpleton...it is not too big. it's just too big for your anorexic superficial culture.

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Old 07-01-2010, 12:38 AM
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Let it go, Steve

I've been there all along, with the 7710, N95 et all...

Its not just the normobs who want and easy-to-use finger touch device with a large, bright screen. I'll take a device with a capacitive touchscreen over a "classic" device (stylus/keys/non-touch/resistive). Everytime!

Just look at Evan's review of the X6. Things change. It's called progress. It's a good thing.

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Old 07-01-2010, 02:07 AM
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Dear Steve Litchfield of today, let me introduce you to Steve Litchfield of two weeks ago:
Quote:
And is it just me, or is the Motorola Droid/Milestone rather ugly?
Obviously you two will have a lot to discuss, seeing that one of you wrote an article advocating function over form, while the other, when presented with the Droid's impressive specs, simply commented that it looks ugly.

Last edited by rvirga; 07-01-2010 at 02:13 AM.

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Old 07-01-2010, 03:04 AM
sicofante sicofante is offline
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Small, classic keypad and long battery life. That's the three features most mortals are after when buying a phone because they need a phone. And statistics still show that's what people buy mostly. Trends and predictions are just that.

Some of my nephews got an ipod touch for Christmas. I must say it's the iphone done right: half the thickness (or so it feels), metal back and great at everything it does, unlike the iphone which does everything right except phone calls.

I might end up with an E52, for instance, and some ipod touch, Zune HD or any other thing for doing non-communication things. I've always thought swiss army knives are very poor knives.

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Old 07-01-2010, 03:30 AM
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Talking

"these things are designed by engineers"
I think it is the problem, the Iphone has been designed by designers and engineered by engineers, not the other way around ;-)

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Old 07-01-2010, 04:45 AM
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"is the Motorola Droid/Milestone rather ugly? " You're twisting my intent here. This quote was an off-the-cuff tweet and I stand by it - the Droid is ugly - compared to its competitors, the iPhone, the Samsung i8910 HD, the Nexus One and others. Look at that appalling d-pad, look at the step/chin etc.

I wasn't dismissing it as a device - if it was indeed the most powerful and usable on the planet then I'd get it, whatever its looks.
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  #11  
Old 07-01-2010, 07:52 AM
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agree with few, but not all

Hi Steve,

Like you, as per my observation around me, I also agree that currently looks are very imp. for anyone who is buying a phone, especially smartphone. Also "Thin" is the new mantra.
Thinner the better seems to be most of the people's preference. They ignore the better features.

However, just having a good look and thin frame, will not help. I think call quality, battery life, etc does matter. But another most imp. feature is the UI. Currently most of the online blogs in US have touted iphone as the benchmark for UI. So any phone now that comes out, gets compared to iphone's simple UI. (which i think is oversimplistic due to lack of basic features).
People complain about iphone's dropped calls, but most of them have blamed AT&T(in US) for that, though i think iphone's RF reception is still not as good as Nokia phones, but most of the blogs online blame AT&T, which is what the normal public believes in.

Also iphone has become a status symbol now. So unless someone comes up with something better than iphone, i mean more features but better UI(simple and intuitive), till then it will be status quo.

So in short: Function and Form both are equally imp. in current and future world. None of them will overtake each other.

  #12  
Old 07-01-2010, 08:14 AM
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The doorstep

Size is the single most important consideration for me. Effectively ruling out most new phones except Symbian ones.

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Old 07-01-2010, 09:03 AM
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Capacitive touch screens are easier to use (with the right UI). Instead of searching in menus often used commands can be executed by using you fingers in an obvious manner (panning, zooming and rotating come to mind). This idea of "ease of use" is then captured in the phrase "touch screen", "touch screen" automatically means "easy to use" in the mind of the consumer.

You can have ease of use too with keyboard-only phones and PDA's. Press one key to zoom in, another to zoom out. Easy, but a bit harder to get used to compared to pinching. But you can do it with one hand, the other hand holding a small child, a bag or a handhold in the tube, something people apparently do all the time

One of Psion's strengths was that they had a fixed set of shortcuts for common commands. One of Nokia's*mistakes was to never push a fixed set of shortcuts for their S60 phones and T9 keyboards.

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Old 07-01-2010, 09:20 AM
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"is the Motorola Droid/Milestone rather ugly?"

I don't know so much, I'm an industrial designer and I think it has a hint of Bang & Olufsen about it. It certainly is distinctive, unlike the N97 and N900 which look like an iPhone after over-indulging at Christmas!

Remember when Nokia used to come up with the innovative, talked about designs? Those were the days, eh?!

  #15  
Old 07-01-2010, 09:25 AM
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"Also "Thin" is the new mantra."

No, it's the old mantra as well. Remember the Motorola StarTAC (90s) and RAZR (00s) flying off the shelves all over the world, simply because they were thin and would easily fit into a pocket.

Is that an N900 in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?! ;-)
 

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