The Evolution of the Interface

February 5, 2007 at 8:43 am | Posted in Technical | Leave a comment

It seems that the hottest topic in technical news for the past couple of weeks has been the iPhone, which is a phone/palmtop computer/iPod in one device. At first glace I thought it was strange that there is so much hype surrounding the iPhone when it isn’t all that revolutionary; but then I realized that convergence isn’t the key feature of this device. Apple’s designers are following the same strategy they used to dominate the media world with the iPod. They are simply taking the interface forward a few steps. As they proved with the iPod, that is all it takes to make people fanatical about your product. 

One of the iPhone’s updates is the visual voicemail display. This allows you to view all your messages and select the one you want to hear first by pointing your finger. No more listening to each message in order, or trying to skip through them using a number pad while trying to hold the phone to your ear. It makes every kind of sense.

This doesn’t seem like a revolution in itself, but it is a great example of the type of thinking that has kept Apple going all these years. Yes, they have good devices that function smoothly; but they have proven time and again that people are willing to pay just a little more for a better interface.

Microsoft has often attempted to replicate Apple’s interface successes, and I believe with Vista they are trying to get ahead a little bit. While I am not a proponent of early adoption of any OS (let them shake the bugs out first) I am interested to see how the 3D window design and zoom navigation will work for me.

I think this is the natural evolution of customer service. While the front lines of good service were human beings in the past, it seems that the interface has taken over. Tech companies are using the interface to anticipate people’s wants and needs, and fulfill them before they think to ask for fulfillment.

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