The mobile design cargo cult

The iPhone has done very well, outselling expectations and overall
giving every user a good experience. I have to say it's the most
exciting and useful gadget I've bought in many years, to the point
where I don't know what I'd do without it, given that it offers stuff
like knowlege of traffic ahead of me, every contact from my computer,
can pinpoint my location almost anywhere on earth, and is easily
upgradable and endlessly extensible through third party apps. Like Matt Jones said, it makes me feel like I have superhero powers (at least for information).

I've noticed in airports and magazines and fast-forwarded commercials
that every phone carrier seems to be making an iPhone competitor now. You can always tell because they look like an iPhone, therefore they should be just as good as one, right? Have you seen these things? (ex: LG, Blackberry, Samsung)

It's my hypothesis that the powers that be in the mobile phone world are essentially a cargo cult. Somewhere in a boardroom 1-2 years ago a CEO screamed "make it black and touchscreen, then put a chrome bezel around it and the masses won't know the difference."

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

One reply on “The mobile design cargo cult”

  1. Hi Matt… there’s a large degree of “me-too-ism” it’s true, but in many cases it starts well before – at the sourcing of components. 16 by 9 black touchscreens are with us now from nearly all the major handset manufacturers because of sourcing decisions 3-4 years ago – and *that’s* where the me-too clamour really begins. Arbitrary diamonds are paced on roadmaps based on massive orders of components and massive deals with carriers based on those diamonds. Alongside the inertia and inability of hardware-centric companies developing or changing SW platforms – this leads the design task to be a cursory stylistic exercise in most cases, with, if you’re ‘lucky’ a gimmcky feature or two to try and incorporate.
    Anyway, I’m starting to twitch and the doctors have said it isn’t good for me to dwell on these issues as it can bring on the episodes, so I’ll leave it there – just wanted to point out the role the juggernaut of production and componentry sourcing plays in the cargo cult…


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