My daughter knows how to use my phone - not just pressing buttons at random but unlocking it, navigating between home screens, finding the app she wants to play with, launching it and shutting it down again.
She's two. The phone in question is an iPhone, but it looks like she'll be able to use Windows Phone Series 7 too. At long last, Microsoft gets it.
The "it" that Microsoft gets is simplicity. One of the key reasons the iPhone works so well for adults and toddlers alike is that it's simple. Simplicity isn't cramming a desktop OS into a phone; it's coming up with something that works well on a tiny device with a tiny screen. Until now, Microsoft was trying to do the former. Now it's doing the latter, it has a phone OS we're genuinely excited about.
We have our reservations, of course. The lack of Flash support is surprising. The internet experience was glossed over, which makes us think it may be horrible.
Windows Phone 7 Series is a terrible name. And if the OS is as new as Microsoft says it is, it's a version 1.0 product - and we're all familiar with how flawless and reliable Microsoft 1.0 products are. Despite this, though, we're very impressed. Windows-powered phones are looking sleek. They're looking smart. And best of all, they're looking simple.
Hopefully this is part of a bigger trend. For years, technology has become more and more complicated, often for no good reason. I do a monthly radio surgery where listeners phone in with their technology troubles, and more often than not they're being driven daft by something that should be simple, but isn't. Far from being an enabler, something that helps us get things done, technology can become a barrier, a binary bouncer that stops us doing the things we want to do.
Instead of getting furious, we've put up with it. We've even embraced it. When a gadget is so complicated that only three people in the world can use it, we've seen that as a good thing: instead of storming the manufacturer's office with angry torches, finding the design team and hanging them from the roof by their dangly bits, we've slagged off the users instead. "You can't work your gadget! HA HA!"
Look at the numbers: simplicity sells. The Wii outsells the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The iPhone outsells Windows Mobile. The iPad will outsell the Tablet PC. And if Microsoft doesn't make a mess of it, Windows Phone Series 7 will do serious business, too.
The moral for technology companies is clear: if you want to make big money from tech, don't go after the geeks. Test your tech on a two-year-old.
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