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Why do some gadgets succeed?

July 1, 2009

Why are some pieces of tech instant successes and some, offering similar features, just aren’t? The examples that come to mind are iPods and Blackberrys. When these devices debuted they did things that previous devices already did (the Palm already did email and the Rio already did mp3), the Blackberry and the iPod just did them in a way that non gadget geeks were able to pick them up and use them.

These are my reflections:

  • Make them easy to use. Nay, not just easy, simple. Non gadget users should be able to pick them up and use them pretty much instantly.
  • Make them solve specific problems which are easy to articulate. iPods do music. Blackberrys do (mostly corporate) email. Sure – overtime they’ve added additional features and complexity but they’ve retained their ‘basics’ within their interface.

No doubt there are other contributing factors. These devices wouldn’t be pervasive without good engineering, compelling interfaces and clever marketing but I do think the ‘simple and easy’ aspect is a significant contributor to their success.

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