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March 3, 2004 12:30 AM

Broken: Consumer technology

This article talks about the increasing complexity of digital devices: cameras, DVD players, televisions.

When will consumer technology manufacturers learn: consumers aren't served well by a ton of features?

And when will consumers learn: more features doesn't make a product better?

(They should read Uncle Mark 2004 to get smarter.)


How many consumers pick the product with many whizz-bang features listed on the box over the one with only a few? Consumers may not be well served by the addition of features (which I certainly agree with), but they're the ones who define demand, not the manufacturers.

(And I certainly don't hold myself above blame, I'm often drawn to the product that has a million things I won't use or don't understand over the one with a few well defined things I know I need and will use.)

Posted by: Rob Drimmie at March 3, 2004 08:13 AM

I remember a presentation by Patrick Jordan (HFES/IEA 2000) where he talked about research which showed that many purchasers complicated electronics get a perverse sense of satisfaction/power out of the idea that they will be the only ones in the house who will ever know how the devices really work.

Regarding the CNN article quote "[The camera is] a computer, that's what it is. It's got menus and menus. I have to consult a manual anytime I try other features and then I forget how to do it," - Alan Cooper addresses this nicely with the first chapter of his book "The Inmates are Running the Asylum". You can get most of the first chapter for free on Amazon.

Posted by: Chris Law at March 3, 2004 11:16 AM

Hate to say this, but I wouldn't go by the Uncle Mark reference listed. I wouldn't buy an Ipod if my life depended on it. It cost a couple hundred bucks to have the battery replaced!!! And I own a game cube and a playstation 2. I'd say they're fairly equal.

Posted by: Andy Marsh at September 2, 2004 10:40 AM

I told a young Cingular rep he would make a LOT of money if he designed a phone that had no TV, games, CD, DVD, laundromat, GPS, magazine rack, and ladies lingerie for us older "basics" population - he acted like I was crazy.

Posted by: imnotright at May 3, 2005 06:32 PM

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