Nokia N90: Featuritis – Day 1, part 4 12:25 on Saturday

Of course the N90 wouldn’t need a built-in manual that sucks if there weren’t so many complicated features — too many to make them usable, and too many to learn for the short attention span of nowadays people.

Motorola’s ROKR iTunes phone is a prime example of adding excellent features on top of more features and coming up with a botched product. Many believe that instead of featuritis people are craving for simplicity. I’ve used this Ian Pearson quote before, and I’ll use it again:

We’ve done 20 years of adding functionality, and 99 percent of that functionality isn’t needed,” Pearson said. “There will be an enormous market over the next several years for really simple stuff.” [Wired]

Some companies are getting it. Mark Hurst predicted a simple phone would appear in 2005, and at least Vodafone has tapped the market for simplicity.

Mobile strategy firm Fjord suggests segmentation of devices going somewhat against the device convergence that is going on. There are benefits to both approaches. An all-in-one device frees you from carrying around a bunch of devices, while a specialized device can really excel at what it does. Talking about convergent products a swiss knife analogy is mandatory: Would you use a swiss knife in the kitchen? It depends. If you’re into gourmet cooking, probably not. If you rarely cook at home and mostly do it 4am, possibly.

Personally I think Nokia is on the right track with their innovative devices that change functionality based on the physical form. N90 is the first example in this category. Nokia 3250 takes the concept further allowing you to rotate the end of the phone to make the device function as a camera, music player or a phone. But as I have witnessed with my N90, the generalization of the UI that seems to come with the generalization of code lowers the usability. At times so much as to outweigh the benefit of a “physically modal” product.

This is part four of my first day with a Nokia N90. You can find the earlier parts in the N90 category.

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