Why Features Dont Matter Any More

By Andreas Pfeiffer  |  Posted 2006-01-23 Print this article Print

Opinion: As Apple's iPod shows, success in technology has less and less to do with features, and more to do with ease of use. Welcome to the Age of User Experience.

As Apples iPod shows, success in technology today has less and less to do with features, and more and more to do with ease of use. The iPod was never sold on the grounds of its technical merits: Apple hit a gold mine by marketing a cool new way of integrating music into your life. Even when Apple announced the iPod with video, it presented it not as the best multimedia player in the universe, but as a cool new way of watching "Desperate Housewives" and other TV shows. In the seemingly never-ending debate about Apples successes, announcements, new products and predicted-but-unannounced über-gadgets, features and technical specifications often seem to dominate the debate.
Click here to read Andreas Pfeiffers column on why small-screen video demands a new creative language.
Yet if theres one lesson to be learned from the companys recent successes, it is a very simple one: Features dont matter any more. Welcome to the Age of User Experience. One key aspect of modern digital devices is that technical specifications are easily copied and replicated: megapixel count in cameras, storage capacity in music players or processor speed in personal computers are the same everywhere. As a result, they provide poor distinguishing factors for consumers when it comes to choosing between different brands. Thats where the overall user experience comes in. As computing and digital devices move more and more into the consumer space, features and functionalities will increasingly take the back seat as motivators for technology adoption: As the iPod abundantly shows, user experience (along with a strong brand and clever marketing) is much more important for the success of a device than technical specifications. Web designers grasped the importance of good user experience a long time ago; now it is time for the big technology providers to understand where the industry is headed. Next Page: 10 rules for experience-based technology.


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