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User Interface Obsession.

I was thinking the other day about user interfaces on non-PC devices.

For the most part they are all stuck in some frozen point in time. Or worse, they became more complicated with time.

Consider this list which serves as a tiny sample:

-consumer landline telephone

-microwave

-automobile

-payment systems/banking

-digital SLRs

-home audio/video equipment (TVs, set top box, remote control)

-home security

(I could go on and on).

There is an obvious tendancy to give us more features in each update with these products. Yet it doesn’t seem like the companies that make those products have user interface obsession.

I realize that I’m an Apple fanboy when it comes to design and user experience. And sometimes they absolutely miss the target (I happen to think iMovie 09 was a big step backwards). But for the most part they nail the user experience. Yes, I think they have great taste but it’s more than that. Its taste combined with obsession. Taste makes it sound too easy and like something you are born with or without.

Taste (alone) doesn’t give enough credit to companies that hyperfocus about their products.

I think a lot of companies don’t obsess on their user interfaces. That’s the only explanation I have for why my remote control looks like the way it does. And why there are a billion buttons on my car’s dashboard. Or why I still dont’ know how to sync the address book on our home telephone system.

They just don’t care enough.

That’s why I love startups. The best ones obsess about the user experience. They care about their products and the user interface like nobody else does and they don’t settle.