Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The world keeps diverging

Tomorrow is the day Apple will not introduce the iPad (or so I believe). They will reshuffle the iPod lineup adding a bunch of cameras here and there, and probably killing the iPod Classic forever, in exchange for an additional focus on the iPod Touch (which sold well, and it was a surprise for many). Apple has an advantage on pushing the Touch because it uses the App Store, which attracts developers: I even heard one say "we have to keep our app on version 2 of the iPhone OS because many Touch users do not upgrade the OS"...

So... tomorrow won't be the day of even more divergence. We'll have to wait a few more months. But it will happen. Apple will come out with an ebook reader one day, adding one more device in my pocket.

If you read this blog, you know I am not a fan of convergence. I never believed in the ├╝berdevice that does everything for me. I believe in many specialized devices that do one thing and one thing well. Not one that does many things and all badly.

For me, it goes down to usability. It is a science of no compromises. If you have to compromise, your user experience will suck.

If you force me to watch a movie on a small screen, I will do it in an emergency. At the end of the emergency, I will sit on my couch and watch something else happily on a big screen (ever noticed the TV screen size is getting bigger and bigger and the quality higher and higher? How do you match it on a small screen??).

If you force me to type a long document on a touch screen without a keyboard, I will try to do it in an emergency. However, I will probably give up before the emergency is over, put the ideas on a piece of paper and type them back later on a keyboard...

Input and output are key. If the screen is small, many things do not make sense. If there is no keyboard or I need a pen, many things do not make sense.

I want a special device in my car for navigation. My phone won't do it (sorry N├╝vifone). Yes, it might work, but the screen is small (I just came back from South Korea, where they have huge car navigator screens). And it is multipurpose. And the GPS is not that good. And ... and ... and.

Bottom line: give me one good device for what I need. Make it cheap. Make it interact with the others: this is key, few have made it happen. I want my data to be unique and be synced on all devices freely. Do not lock me, make me shake my iPhone when I get in the office to pass the call to my landline phone. Or to the TV when I am close and watching a movie on the device, so I can sit on the couch and watch it on a big screen. Make all this transparent and you got me.

There is one joke I always tell about convergence. I carry two devices in my pocket every day: my wallet and my keys. They haven't converged yet. There is a reason.

Hey, that does not mean they won't converge. A world without cash is nice, and maybe with NFC (near field communication) my mobile phone will eventually substitute my credit card. And my door will open just waving my phone. So I will be down to one device. It makes sense, because the input and output will change, and there is no need for a big screen or a big keyboard. See, I am all for convergence, when it makes sense.

Another complaint I hear all the time: "I do not want ANOTHER device. I cannot carry one more. I already have my phone and my laptop with me, there is no room for an eBook reader!". I say BS (pardon my French). Look in my bag when I leave for a flight. You find my mobile phone, my laptop, two books and a newspaper. The two books weigh way more than one eBook. And the newspaper takes a lot of room and spreads its dirty ink around. If you can carry a book in your bag, you have room for an eBook reader. And if you want to read your book on your phone, be my guest ;-)

I love divergence. One device for all (things I do).