Apple’s iPhone proves again that user experience is brand experience. But I’m still unsure if I really want one; they’re kind of too big and too complicated for an old man like me.
Mental Model of a Mobile Phone
The iPhone is a geek’s dream, a tech miracle, a multi purpose wonder. Yet, what is it exactly? A cellphone, an iPod, a computer? If you create tools with too many different functions, they lose their purpose, they lose their shape, they lose their idea.
Our mental model of a cellphone: A telephone without cable that also allows you to write little messages if you don’t feel like speaking in real time.
The iPhone has solved many of the interface problems of the regular cell phone and came up with a beautiful interaction model as simple and comprehensive as the wii-mote. And of course, the tech guy loves this widget-wonder as it is. Yet for those who just want a better cellphone I suggest the following:
All a cellphone needs is a phone, Web, and E-mail. That’s right: no SMS, no iPod. Of course, you can take pictures, notes and change the settings, if you really want to. No SMS: First mix E-mail with SMS and than make SMS disappear. In Japan, mobile phones just use E-mail. It’s cheap, simple and obvious. No iPod: keep it as a mobile phone, keep the mental model intact. Why does it feel weird to use a mobile phone as an MP3 player? Isn’t it nice to have everything in one device? No it’s not nice. It’s weird. The mere idea of listening to music on a phone makes me feel uncomfortable.
Just phone, mail, and the time. If you turn the device, you can read the mails. This little guy probably needs advanced speech recognition to add numbers, find your contacts quickly and write mail. Use side buttons to go through your library. You deal with the settings by plugging it into the USB port of your computer. If you’re bored you switch into shuffle mode to call a random dude. 😉
Dear non-readers, before you comment: iPhone Nano and Shuffle are studies. One is quite serious, the other one is just for fun. And to all the “I-want-it!-people”: The iPhone can be bought here.