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  (Source: Reuters)
Ask and ye shall not receive, in the iPhone world

It’s hard to argue the brilliant potential of Apple's iPhone.  The device stands head and shoulders over most smartphones in terms of looks, form factor, graphics, internet capabilities, and touch interface.  So when the new 3G iPhone debuted, customers flocked to it, hoping that the oversights of the first generation model might have been addressed by Apple.

The wish list wasn't very long, and some items on it seem like they would be almost trivial to implement.  Among the desired features as chronicled by Wired -- photo texting, copy and paste, working Flash, browser crash fixes, Wi-Fi iTunes syncs, landscape view for emails, clicking anywhere to take a photo, and the ability to hide unwanted icons.

While one would thing one or two of these fixes -- requested by users and trumpeted all about by the media -- might be added, the iPhone 3G came with exactly none of them.  What it did come with were a plethora of features that were met with varying reactions from modest enthusiasm to total indifference, including Google Street View, direct podcast downloads, application ratings on deletion, line in support (for mics), Emoji icons, location sharing, and Safari tweaks (not crash proofing).  These fixes can easily be gleaned by glancing through leaks from the iPhone Firmware 2.2 Beta 2.

However, it’s the features that everyone wants that aren't there that are grabbing the most attention.  Of the top 20 most requested features, you have to reach 18 before you reach one Apple has implemented -- turn by turn directions.

Many analysts are puzzled that a company could be so out of touch with its user base.  A publicist for FullSix, the " relationship marketing” company that created Please Fix the iPhone drive points out that most big companies have launched initiatives which they use to gather and implement user suggestions.  They point to My Starbucks and Dell's Idea Storm as examples.

Apple does quite the opposite.  It gives people random features they never requested (with the exception of 3G, which was more of an upgrade to modern standards than a feature).  Many blame Apple's polarizing CEO Steve Jobs.  Mr. Jobs has publicly stated before that he doesn't think customers know what they want, but he does.

He likes to express this philosophy by using a Wayne Gretzky quote to refer to his thoughts on feature development; "I skate to where the puck is going to be.  Not to where it’s been."

However, most analysts believe that Mr. Jobs will eventually be forced to relent and offer a feature here and there that consumers have been demanding for months -- or at least one would hope. 



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As Henry Ford Said...
By kelmon on 11/3/2008 3:16:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If I had asked consumers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.


I honestly think that there is a lot to be said for implementing the commonly requested features that customers want and we know that Apple are working on at least some of them (copy/paste is the one that springs immediately to mind). That said, I don't think that Apple should spend their time working on what customers ask for and instead concentrate on what customers will want when they see it. Sounds odd, I know (hey, the customer is always right, yes?) but it's the only way that progress tends to be made. Apple just needs to make sure that there are not any glaring gaps and ensure that whatever they deliver has a real purpose that is useful to most people.




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