FT: More on 3G reality

FT: More on 3G reality and interesting piece on consumer behaviour…

These from the excellent ‘Creative Business’ supplement that comes with the FT every tuesday – i had to email their helpdesk
to find this stuff which is nothing to do with their interface design,
but everything to do with their interaction/content strategy of deliberately reducing the mapping you can make between the print edition and website… arrrgh.

Firstly, a looming 3G handset crisis further
widens the gap between the realities of wireless and the expectation –
a gap which wasn;t managed well last time (WAP…)

“Third generation mobile phones do exist. Oh yes, they
do. I met somebody yesterday who had heard of a colleague who had
actually handled one. This sort of throw-away line is becoming a sick
joke for most of Europe’s mobile phone operators. In Britain and
Germany alone, they have paid more than Pounds 50bn between them for
licences to offer mobile internet, full motion video and other glitzy
services – they hope from next year. That’s fine. But where are the
handsets? Realistically the chances of working phones being ready in
quantity next year are small. Many observers think it will be 2004,
2005 or even later before commercially attractive handsets are
generally available. ”

CREATIVE BUSINESS: Third generation mobile phones : Financial Times, Mar 13, 2001


Some research shows that there may not be such a thing as an unquestioning early adopter of technology in the consumer market place… good news for user-centred interaction design…?

“Even early adopters are becoming suspicious of new
technologies and new formats,” says director of strategic solutions Sue
Unerman. “If you are selling technology, make the benefit clear.”

CREATIVE BUSINESS: New media : Financial Times, Mar 13, 2001

I-mode is successful because it’s

I-mode is successful because it’s simple

The race to justify spend on 3G
licenses in Europe is leading the owners into an arms race of features,
content rights and technology spend… but they won’t get any return on
their investment unless they listen to what users want… like I-Mode

“Since its launch in February 1999, the product has been
aimed not at sophisticates but at ordinary people who want “normal,
normal, Internet applications,” he stressed. Though casual observers of
i-mode activity in Japan might conclude that most people who use it are
teenagers, he said, in reality the majority of Japanese users are
adults. After a semi-slow beginning, when i-mode took six months to
land its first one million subscribers, his company now counts just
over 19 million subscribers, Natsuno said.”

Stepping back from the features and functionality mindset
to one of sensitive and contextual strategic design of 3G services is
going to happen – it’s whether the big players spending right now will
do it before or after they realise what consumers want…

The Minimalist Invasion of i-mode : HBSWK Pub. Date:26-Feb-01

Consumer electronics gumbo Economist article

Consumer electronics gumbo
Economist article arguing the subtle convergence based around protocols and people’s lives that has spawned divergence in the consumer electronics industry.

Reminded me of a conversation last year with Phil Oye
on a New York subway about whether our gadgets would converge to a
digital penknife or diverge to single-use devices… The protocols and
purpose arguement was something I wish we’d discussed then…!

Gadget wars
Mar 8th 2001 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

More on “Wombling” Phil, Marese

More on “Wombling”

Marese and myself had a great, animated discussion about ‘wombling’
last night in the pub following Advance For Design, which was themed
around Ethnography and Trend-Watching in design. Here’s phil’s
follow-up mail which he’s kindly let me publish. There’s a very
interesting link in his ramble which points to methods for ‘system
optimisation’ – which in a dry way, you could argue is ‘wombling’.

“Stream of consiousness about wombling…

So we’re talking about a phonomenon of socio-cultural wombling, rather than engineering wombling.

It’s about users deviating from the designers path in
radical and unforseeable ways, and those deviations having a benevolent
effect. Look at the pictures half way down this page: http://home.earthlink.net/~bhelfrich/quip/

The examples we’ve seen are all very simple.
Disappointingly simple, really. Each instance is just an example of a
simple misappropriation of a single tool.

For example, SMS didn’t have to be joined to any other
technology in order to make a new thing. It was simply adopted by an
unexpected market segment.

The Web is an example of a piece of engineering wombling
(combine existing Internet hardware with TCP/IP with standard
high-level protocol tactics with SGML with cheap computing power) and
socio-cultural wombling (it exploded into a zillion dollar “industry”).
Engineers did the more exotic wombling. Or did they?

For tech wombling:
– A profusion of cheap, general purpose components
[Add more]

For socio-cultural wombling:
– A simple, flexible product
[Add more]

To exploit SC-wombling a company must:
– understand
that wombling is a pwoerful, money making phenomenon and invest their
time and effort into encouraing it. This many include altering their
infrastructure and processes to allow the quick wombling response
mentioned below.
– “listen” for signs of wombling on their product
– respond quickly by “tweaking” their product in ways that encourage wombling
– reward womblers?
[Add more]”

CarFreeNYC Victor pointed this out


Victor pointed this
out to me – a pressure group site raising awareness of traffic problems
around the central park area of Manhattan. Can’t seem to find any
design or policy solutions on the site though…

From my limited experience of Manhattan it would seem as an
urban form to be less susceptible to the kinds of
‘networked-neighbourhood’ patterns we were proposing to digitally
enable in CarFreeLondon

Any NewYorkers want to comment?

Transportation Alternatives NYC – Car-Free Central Park