Podcast of Peter Skillman's talk on Innovating the Mobile Experience
Peter Skillman, Palm's VP of Design
"Design is just 5% of a world class product and experience. Marketing, sales, distribution, [and] procurement is what makes up the other 95%."
ZURB was truly hopping at last Friday, with our largest ZURBsoapbox turnout ever for Peter Skillman's talk. We loved having one last heart to heart with the man who's all over the internet these days before he jumped on the plane to start his new job at Nokia. Peter left all of us with some great lessons learned for creating awesome mobile experiences. Feel free to listen to the podcast as you read through the summary.
Opportunities with Mobile
There are many opportunities for innovating in mobile these days. Peter discussed some of the problems which exist:
- Devices don't talk to each other — pairing devices with accessories is very clunky.
- Many smartphones have too much junk loaded on top of OS — a good example of this is Motoblur on top of Android.
- Different functions in companies don't talk to each other — most organizations feel like they are a university with a separate math, physics, and english departments which don't talk to each other. Talking is where most of opportunity lies for design.
- It's very easy to copy a mobile phone — it takes about 8 hours to take apart a phone and laser scan the whole thing. It will take another 2 to 3 weeks and mimic and build any phone out there. The bar for delivering reasonable hardware has really come down.
Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity.
"What you reject is LOT more important that what you put in."
Peter went on to tell us that the goal in mobile design is to figure out people's frustrations and to eliminate them. This is what will develop long term differentiation for your product. Simplicity and speed is what defines a great experience helps you solve frustrations. Peter outlined the following simplicity principles:
- Make the structure purposeful and simplistic
- Make common functions extremely easy to get to
- Make user mistakes extremely easy and elegant to get out from
- Make behaviors in applications easy to reuse so that when someone learns a pathway or a mental approach to getting something done they can reuse it again
- Give the user feedback and status as they use your product. If a user selects some text they want to see it highlighted, if they don't see it highlighted they won't know what to do next.
- Read through the copy over and over and make sure there is no redundant information anywhere.
3 Tips on Design
- You want consistency. If a user wants to walk from kitchen to dining room in her house she simply walks through. It does not work like that in Mobile — you have to go through front door to get to the kitchen. iPhone has a home button which works like a go back to front door button. This is not a model that human beings are used to. People are spatial.
- You want your customers to view your products with some emotional content. It makes people tolerant. When people have an emotional connection to the experience they are willing to give you a break.
- Beware of the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you suck forever! If you miss one tiny detail in your product the whole thing is going to suck. You've got to be really picky about details.
4 Must Haves
Peter casually mentioned that if you're missing one of these you're dead:
- Delicious hardware
- Cloud services
- A rich user interface
- Developer ecosystem
Peter went on to discuss what he expects the future of mobile to bring for us. Peter ended his presentation with the famous last words: "Oh - this is really hard!" We had a very generous Q&A session which left everyone hungry with more questions. ZURBians were lucky enough to hang out with Peter afterwords to share some of our own design process and tools. We are more than happy to have Peter over and wish him all the best in his new endeavor!
Peter: If you are not succeeding at the high end, then you're absolutely doomed to failure. You want to be absolutely consistent across all your product lines and deliver something that you already know how to use. Figure out what their frustrations are and you solve that. That is what develops long term differentiation.
Moderator : Super excited to have Peter here. Peter who is not by any means a
stranger to product design. Seventeen years of experience,
this guy taught design at Stanford, worked at IDEO later
on, worked on crazy, wildest projects at IDEO. Lead the
famous shopping cart project, where they redesigned a
shopping cart. ABC Nightline video, many of you have
probably seen that.
He started working at Handspring, worked himself all the way up to the VP of design at Palm. The famous Palm Pre into the smartphone market, wowed everybody with his designs at the time, called him over here to talk about design. The opportunities that lie in front of us some of the problems that people have on interfaces that they're facing in design as far industrial design goes, as far a mobile design goes, as far as web design goes. What are some of those problems, how can we address them and the opportunities that lie with it. So, let's welcome Pete to ZURBsoapbox.
Peter: Thank you. Thank you. I kind of like these little community things. It's fun for me to do and this is the last opportunity I can do it because tomorrow I get on a plane and start my new job. I'm moving to London for three years and I'm going to run MeeGo UX and services for Nokia.
Audience Member: I'm from Nokia.
Peter: Are you? Really, are you working at Nokia now? Sweet. So I'm reporting to Margo [inaudible @02:01] and I will, they don't
even know yet, so don't tell them. It's going to be
announced on Monday. So, it's going to be pretty intense.
But I have a point of view about where I want to take
MeeGo. I like talking about design and I've been doing
mobile for a long time and I just think so much of its
broken and it's not about the technology. So I want to talk
about the context first.
So, huge market, 18% compound annual growth rate and the other interesting thing about the Smartphone market is that 80% of the subsidies are going to the hero funds, like the iPhones and the higher end HGC stuff and the Samsung Captivates and the leading edge Google products. If you are not succeeding at the high end, then you're absolutely doomed to failure because that means that your product is either going to be way too expensive or its going to be . . . because basically the feature phones are priced the same as the smartphones, because the smartphones are being subsidized so much.
A really big shift that happened in the last fourteen months and it's completely blown up a lot of business models in a lot of different companies. 20% of the market is smartphones today. If you think about that, three, four hundred million phones a year that you might categorize as a Smartphone. Even 10% of that is an unbelievably huge business that scaled far beyond a lot of the big companies are today. But there's really only room for, I would say five players in the space. So design is only about five percent of it.
Design is just the little industrial design or UI the sort of high end of it and a lot of us people that are in design often think it's a lot more important than it really is, but it's really about marketing, sales, distribution, reverse logistics, procurement, all the elements of the service business are what it takes to deliver a world class product and experience today.
It's something that you ask yourself, "Are we building bicycles?" and the reality is that the cost of failure when you're building bicycles is actually pretty minimal. Airplanes are a better metaphor. If you take one little component of an airplane and there's a problem with it, if it's not good enough, if the marketing isn't good enough, if the service integration, and the UI, the overall experience in marketing, branding out of box experience, then you really put all the passengers of your company at risk.
So, I'm going to talk about what's next, I'm going to talk about simplicity, a little bit on the WebOS story and some nuances in user interfaces that I think are really going to impact the experience design in the next year and what's broken. So, I'm going to talk about a lot, I'll go fast, I may have to cut it short because I've put in a lot of content for today.
The problem is that devices don't talk to each other and pairing is really a lousy model because it's really a long term relationship and you really want a short term relationship with your accessories. I explicitly select something: I select that printer. I select that music dock. I select different events and rather than opening up a menu and having 20 different devices that I can potentially pair to and then I'm connected with them, maybe I don't want to be connected with them. Maybe there's a security issue. I think the model is really wrong.
The UI model for a lot of experience isn't based on a physical metaphor so it's sort of hard to learn. I don't know if people have experienced the new Motorola phones, for example, but they're putting a lot of [Inaudible @05:53] and a lot of other software on top of Android and arguably if you read gadget blogs, you'll hear the critique that it actually makes the experience worse. Screen resolution differences make development really hard; that splits up the community.
But ultimately a lot of it is about how organizations are structured. They don't talk to each other. The organizational structures of companies are a lot like academics in the Middle Ages where you have one silo for chemistry and physics and math and bio chemistry grows off of chemistry and there's all this new growth that occurs. What ends up happening is that the different silos don't talk to each other and that's where all the opportunity is in design, especially in big companies. That was certainly one of the arguments I made when I went to interview for nine days at Nokia. It was pretty intense.
The other context is that you've got folks in China...these are all Palm plastics from every phone that we've ever done and not a single piece in this display came out of our tools. They can take apart a phone, they can laser scan it in about eight hours and then they can, in two to three weeks, create a full set of tools and mimic and ship anything. In fact, I have an entire book of all the Nokia phones that were shipped in the last two years with all of the software, the bombs, the complete Gerber files, everything that you need to copy a mobile phone. If you look that Metrotech and a lot of the chip developers that are over in Taiwan the bar for delivering reasonable hardware has really, really come down.
You want to be absolutely consistent across all your product lines and deliver something that you already know how to use. You want to make technical literacy totally irrelevant and let intuition take over. You need to create an ecosystem where that design, the hardware, the software, accessories and maybe most importantly the services, I think long term that's going to be the area of the biggest growth, drive a total product experience. You need to focus on the end-to-end experience starting with consideration. The marketing is really important. With the messaging unique value propositions: why do people want to purchase?
You need to invest in direct user observation. All the key insights come from studying users directly. Focus groups are a total waste of time. You never want to do focus groups because they'll just tell you what you already know. You need to communicate the value proposition directly. No, impossibly gorgeous 17 year old girls is waving her phone around. It's irrelevant. It doesn't matter. You want to communicate why you want to use something. What's it do for you? What's the value proposition.
When we launched the Pre, prior to that everyone basically considered us dead. This was a piece I put together to show to carriers before the UI was even done for the WebOS because I managed UI for a year a half before [inaudible @09:21], great guy, came and finished that and I focused on industrial design and accessories. During this time we had to communicate to carriers why they should care about at Palm at all. In some ways Nokia is in a similar place. I helped to re-instill some of that passion about executing.
This is what the UI looked like when I was managing it and even what incoming calls looked like early on and how the notifications, core navigation . . . a lot of these ideas were there really early on and it took a while to really refine that into a complete experience. And I will say, it was an absolutely epic test to take this on. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, to kind of go back with integrity and work with a team of people that were totally committed to making something that big happen. It was really hard, but it was really fun.
So if you look at where we were, the Palm 5 was this incredibly simple product that people loved. It didn't have a lot of functionality, but we kind of lost our way. It was a PDA with CPU RAM/ROM and a phone CPU RAM/ROM ,and a operating system that was single threaded and took three weeks to put a radius in a dialog box. It was really, really hard to deal with. We added a lot of buttons, it got more complicated.
The goal with Pre was to kind of get back to the values and the foundation of the company. Ultimately, I think that it absolutely was a simpler experience. Discoverability of core navigation, which exists at the bottom of the screen, was a little hard. It was difficult to give the phone to my grandmother or somebody else and just have them use it. I think education was a factor there. I think that we went pretty far, and there were some things that we did like this little wave you swipe up from the bottom, and you get this list of icons you can lift up. It sort of mimics back to the original core functions that were part of the original Palm 5.
The hardware is another really important part of it. I've mentioned that I think the bar has come down because it's so easy to copy. But still, the higher level functions, in particular how you do sensor integration, is an area where you're really going to be able to differentiate moving forward. It turns out that it's really hard to do hardware well, especially antennas, when you've got five different antennae. I've been using this for a while, and it really does drop calls if you hold it in the left hand corner. It's really hard to do, it's the most challenging development area in consumer electronic product design of smartphones.
The end-to-end experience means that the moment the customer gets the box, that the details matter. No detail is small. What we did here is we put the sleeve so that all the carrier branding would go on the sleeve, and when you pull the sleeve off, you're left with something kind of pure. It allowed the carriers to brand it, which they care about. When they want to put their NASCAR crap all over it, you can still strip it away.
Connect and configure was really about cutting the cord. You're not syncing to a PC anymore at all. It's entirely syncing with the cloud. And that model, including over-the- air software updates, delivers a much richer experience. An example is when I log into all of my Facebook and LinkedIn and my Google and work emails, when I first get the phone I put all those credentials. Facebook images are automatically as the speed dial photos. So if somebody calls me, like my niece who called me about a month ago, and her boyfriend had been edited out of her Facebook picture. And I was like, "Shannon, what's up?" and she's like, "Yeah, we broke up" and I was like, "That's so cool I knew that." She's like, "Shut up.
Fun aside, in the branding, the goal was to make the branding authentic and have the phones live in a real context. This is a photo shoot that I went to in San Anselmo, this incredible [inaudible @13:55], and the idea was to put the people in the back. It's not about the people, it's about the product. Then when you go to the website, you'll see the background fades away, and you get the context. It was a desire to brand it differently than the austere, white piece of marble, reflective environment that doesn't really reflect how we all live.
The launch included the original Palm Pre that we launched with Sprint and then the later Verizon unit where we took away the button. And Pixi, which I think is the cleanest design of them all. I love this phone. I've always loved this phone. It's scale, it's size, it's authenticity. It's got a double-shot rubber back. And the idea is that you delete the case, because people put rubber cases all over their phones to protect. The idea is, well we'll ship it with it, so you don't need to buy an extra rubber case. But ultimately it was really a market failure. And there are a couple interesting asides, don't ever call a product, Pixi. That was so dumb because the guys in the store wouldn't be caught dead using a Pixi. No 23-year-old in the world is going to buy. They should have called it like, Fairyland or whatever. Anyway, a lot of marketing gaffes.
TouchTone was developed in my group. I had a small user facing technology team where actually the very first coil that we did was just a piece of PVC hacked up, and we wrapped a bunch of wires around it and showed that demo of like a Trio 650 charging inductively to Jon Rubenstein. He made it a mandate that we were going to go drive that.
An integral part of that is the software experience so that when it's ringing, and it's on the dock and if you pick it up, it answers the call et cetera. Hopefully, they will take this much farther because that is only scratching the surface of where that experience can go.
I also wanted to completely integrate the design language with that simple, soft and authentic, that framework, was consistent through the packaging, the accessories, the cable, everything. Little details like, first of all, who gives a crap about the USB logo? What does that mean to anybody? So, in this little recess you line up these dots, and you always get the orientation right when you put the cable in.
When you have a USB stick in your computer, like how often do you get the orientation wrong? It's like that's one tiny grain of sand, and if you have hundred of those, it becomes a total menace. So, these details collectively matter. In the packaging, there's an explicit hierarchy of how all the information is structured with the legal stuff going at the bottom because nobody cares about it. So, don't put a bunch of paperwork on top of the phone. Reveal the phone immediately so the customers can pick it up and use it.
It included multitasking, universal search, synergy, which is the ability to view multiple calendars at the same time, and still today is better than almost any desktop solution. That synergy really works in obtrusive notifications, in terms of how they resolve into a tiny icon that you can go back and access later. It's not blocking notification. You choose whether or not you want to engage. It also included . . . well, that's maybe not true, web 2.0; it's kind of marketing speak.
All of the information is directly tied to the cloud, and it enables a lot of additional services, remote kill, things that you might want for the enterprise plus over the air update. So, why is OTA so important? Anybody? What are the two big benefits that you get?
Audience Member: No syncing.
Peter: No syncing needed. But what do they provide the customer directly when you can . . . [inaudible @18:07] of what?
Audience Member: It's transparency.
Speaker: No, this is like over the air, when I deliver a new version of the software.
Audience Member: Bug fixes, crash updates.
Peter: So, the quality is the very first thing that you can eliminate a lot of returns risk. That's the most important thing, and if you do it OTA, you get about 96% at best. In the old days, we'd get 25%. If we flooded people with e-mails, they just wouldn't do it, it was too much of a pain. The second thing, the second main thing that you get over there?
Audience Member: You get everybody right on the same version.
Peter: That doesn't really matter. Nobody cares. I'm sure if I heard it in the back, but it's additional features. What you get
is the ability to add a feature that wasn't there
previously. Now, there are challenges for accounting, but
that's sort of [inaudible @18:59].
I don't know how many people are totally familiar with Ajax. I'll just run over this quickly then. What we offered is putting the software data in logic up top in the browser client, and basically the UI runs as an instant web kit on the product, it means your ability to use HTML5. You get offline access, and it ends up being incredibly easy to develop for. So, that's sort of where we drove it.
I don't think I need to focus on this too much. I'm going to skip over that, same thing for Android. I don't want to talk about that. So simplicity is really complex. What you reject, and this you can put in a blog, is a lot more important than what you put in. So the goal is to eliminate frustrations. People don't ask for that. People say, "You know, I don't want your product to be a pain." The key is, is if you figure out what their frustrations are and you solve that, that is what develops long-term differentiation. And that defines what cool is for Palm. Now it doesn't mean you position your product that way. But ultimately that makes an experience really sticky. So, you know, but as you, of course add features, the customer experience gets better, right?
You're a pretty good audience. I often get people nodding their heads. So there's a total diminishing return for this. And the key is focusing on what's important jettisoning everything else. And simplicity and speed define what a great experience often is, right? So the right balance is not that you don't have all the features, but maybe at least you're structuring them hierarchically so the most important stuff is available and always there, and the least important stuff is accessible but not distracting or superfluous.
So, I love this example, simplification often defies conventional wisdom. You know, it's the same feature set. You can say what you want about their graphic design and sort of engineering-centric point of view, but this is the same feature set, for the most part. Totally delivered in a different point of view. And it completely misses by this sort of committee-feature-laden approach to adding additional things that they think will make it better that the total experience is lost and here you have this, "Waah" white space and it's just sort of refreshing.
There's some cultural things happening about the complexity in people's lives and people actually seek simplicity. Whereas, in the 18th century you might have a Rococo architecture and elaborate scrolls of angels with trumpets and that was sort of the ultimate expression of what, culturally, people wanted to see. And maybe in the context of where your whole family might die of cholera, that sort of reaching to having angels over your house might seem like a really good thing. But you can't imagine today with all the complexity and how you're connected to everything that you want to live in an unbelievably broke, visually busy way.
So nuance and user interfaces, I think, is absolutely going to be the driver for much of what we see in great product design and experiences. The basic principles kind of crept from Larry Constantine are purposeful and consistent structure, simplicity where the common tasks are really easy to get to quickly. If you make a mistake, you've got to have an elegant way to exit from that mistake and not have some bad thing happen as a result. You want the behaviors on applications to be re-used so that when somebody learns a pathway, or a mental approach to getting something done, that same approach can be used in every context.
You want feedback so that you always know what the state is. If I select something, I want it highlighted. I don't want to select something and not see it highlighted because I might not then have the context in which to know what to do next. And lastly, not a lot of redundant information. This is just about editing. Visual editing, often brutal editing, to make sure actions are really transparent.
So when I think about simplicity, it's about deleting the obvious and irrelevant. And you saw the example where I put the legal information at the bottom of the box. You want consistency. If I enter a house and I go into the kitchen, if when I go from the kitchen into the dining room, I want to walk directly from there to here. But the reality is that in most operating systems today, still, when you're in the kitchen and you want to go into the dining room, you got to go back to the front door.
You know that is effectively what this button is. This is the go-back-to-the-front-door button, right? And that is not a model that human beings are. . . People are really spatial, right? "You want savings in time, feel like simplicity." That's a quote from [inaudible @ 24:58] that I like, his phrasing in that. In [inaudible @ 25:04] 30 milliseconds might make a difference audio hypertext and a lot of launching mechanics user highlighting behavior, that kind of thing, 100-200 milliseconds might be enough. Performance is something that actually hurt us. Performance on Pre and Pixi was a problem. Part of that was in trying to drive everything to WebKit, we were just at the ability where the technology was mature enough to deliver on that probably in the next year that becomes totally moot.
Thoughtful reduction - you want to make something really easy to learn like the Frisbee that have many layers of mastery and more emotions are better than less. Why is this so true? Why do you want to imbue your products and your experiences with some emotional content? Now, it doesn't have to be over wrought but just some subtlety.
Audience Member: To form a connection.
Peter: Okay, what else?
Audience Member: Makes it memorable.
Audience Member: Computers as a person.
Peter: Right. Makes people tolerant. Now that right there is maybe what I feel is one of the most important things is that you get a get out of jail free card. When people have an emotional connection to the experience then they're willing
to give you a break. Ultimately, it embodies itself in
minimizing returns. It's not just a good thing because it
feels good, it's also a good thing for business. Beware the
lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you suck forever.
It is so easy. It's like candy to make something. I'll cut a corner; but remember — we're not building bicycles. Every detail matters. Everything that you do makes a difference even if it seems like a little detail, if there's one little part wrong, that cable — that splice in the cable for the throttle or the flap control you didn't quite do a good enough job, then the whole plane will crash. I mean that is the point of how interaction design and integrated hardware and services experience has evolved to where the expectations are really, really high. So you've got to be really picky about everything.
Now, this is that spatial model I talked about where your notepad is and your phone and your clock and everything. You have a very spatial memory of how all this information lives but with the phone you only had this tiny little window where you can only effectively see one thing at a time. That's the challenge, right? So the solution that we had was to give tasks a place where cards and the physicality of that structure made multi-tasking very easy like that architectural model I talked about. If I switch over to here, I know that that app is to the right and so I can go back because I remember because I have a spatial model for that.
I also think that the nuance . . . so core navigation - that's one critical element. The next critical element, and sorry this slide isn't showing, neither is my header up on the top there, but layers and transparency where layers and how you handle status and notifications are thought of as many, many layers rather than as a single flat plane. Notifications are critical as well as visual nuance and transitions.
People expect a certain level of physicality in manipulating a user interface and if you give objects friction and you give objects coefficient of restitution so that when you move something it bounces, it kind of begins to feel like a little bit more like real life. We human beings like to connect to those things and you can't go over to the top making it kitsch and do all sorts of crazy animations. I'm not a huge fan of when I delete something and it pours into the trashcan. It's cute once and then the 50th time you're like snore. But there's a level so it's about editing, right? For the most part, I think Apple did an incredible of pioneering the expectations with respect to those nuances.
What's next? How am I doing for time?
Moderator : About five more minutes.
Peter: Five more minutes? I think I'll make it.
These are the four things that matter — delicious hardware,
cloud services which probably likely become the most
important element over time, a user interface that's
incredibly rich and physical, and a developer ecosystem. If
you're missing one piece in this game, you're dead. I think
that the web is kind of not going to be relevant in its
current form despite what you might think if you read John
Gruber's review of the iPad. I think the web is being
replaced by a lot of dynamic web apps where I come
in ... Flipboard is just one beginning example of this. I'll
pick a news item and then I can get to the photo gallery
and from there I can see videos and link to other things.
If you watch 23 year olds and the way they consume information is not like us old guys anymore. It's a totally different model about how data is being consumed. Unless you see that you make a lot of bad decisions about where you should be driving your platforms and expectations about how people are consuming this information. Like TV is just becoming less relevant. People in college now are just watching everything on the web. Why buy a Comcast HDTV service and wait for my show to come on when I can just get everything on Hulu. It's a totally different model.
If anybody has seen John Underkoffler's presentation. How many people have seen that on TED? Just a couple. It's worth looking at. It gives you a sense of how the digital interface is merging with the real world OS. Everyone knows the scene from Minority Report. In five years you're going to see a lot of this direct ... the current rage which is the direct manipulation user interface touch based evolving into where gestures become part of that. And become part of that in a bigger space. Certainly what's happening in games and Microsoft Kinnect and other areas there are some really big transitions.
But cameras are so cheap and a couple of cameras and all of a sudden if somebody goes like that, that could be closing an application. Maybe that's easier than the fine manipulation you might need with the Windows mouse and put pointer kind of model, the [inaudible @32:10] model. I think you need to start thinking about this even before the hardware becomes mature.
Convergence is also a huge opportunity. Why when I'm working on my laptop, I've got my phone in my pocket my SMSs don't show up here? What a pain it is. I've got my phone in my pocket and I've got a bunch of messages streaming in and I'm just totally unaware. I'm in my email channel.
Audience Member: [inaudible @32:40] Android took from Mac where [inaudible @32:44] desktop.
Peter: Android did that today?
Audience Member: yeah, on the Mac only with the [inaudible @32:50]
Audience Member: Oh, yeah.
Peter: Cool. So there's a little widget? Does your browser have to be open?
Audience Member: No. It's just a ground notification that Mac has built in that you connect YouTube to your phone. We're actually having a debate about [inaudible @33:05]
Peter: That's just the beginning. Why isn't it on my TV? When I'm watching Avatar maybe I don't want 50 emails coming in, but maybe I create a select list of people that are really important.
Audience Member: [inaudible @33:21] important phone number shows up. Only here.
Peter: Maybe if the president of your company or whatever, you have a list, and she sends you a text you may want to know that
even if you're watching a movie. There are ways that I
think this experience is just being thought through. There
are maybe only three or four companies in the world that I
think can do this. I think that web servers are going to be
embedded in everything: in printers, watches, cars. So
if you think about that context, I mean that's happening
Final thoughts. Failure. These drag engines are running 50 psi manifold pressure on the heads and they blow up all the time because you're really trying to finesse these levers and optimize a product. It's really hard and it's really easy to fail. Ultimately, it comes with having a total lack complacency with what you did yesterday and an obsession with detail.
Study how other people are consuming their data because it's very different than it was five years ago. I think interface design is the enabler for a lot of these experiences and you need to focus on a foundation where technical literacy doesn't matter. This is really hard. It's really hard. But if it wasn't hard it makes it really fun. That's all I've got. Done.
Moderator : So does anybody have questions or something you want to ask Peter?
Audience Member: Yeah, can you talk about the keyboard? The physical keyboard?
Peter: Yeah. I think that many, many people prefer the direct [tactic 35:21] feel you have with the physical keyboard. And that's not going to go away, ever. I think the trend is absolutely away from physical keyboards with snap-domes and a really tight snap ratio, away from it because I think that the world is being taught now through so much advertising and direct cultural experience that this direct manipulation touch model is good enough, and it gets people to want to try it, even if they're doubters. So I think that the success of an interface like [inaudible @36:04] based touch can actually change the intrinsic dynamic of what people expect. And that's happening, and keyboards are absolutely in decline.
Audience Member: I was thinking more on your slide about how you remove stuff is more important than what you actually have in there. It seems Apple's said we're not going to do this keyboard, and it's still getting into the businesses.
Peter: There's no question that having a keyboard makes your product more complex. There are some technologies that people are working on that are maybe, who knows how far off they are, where a flat surface can become topologically through artificial muscle, there's a bunch of different ways that I've looked at but nothing good enough for prime time yet, where maybe you could grow buttons out of the substrate, and then kind of recedes again and becomes totally clear. That's the desire, but I don't believe it yet. I think that there's absolutely a place for keyboards, but they're absolutely being replaced.
Audience Member: What about handwriting?
Peter: There's a question over here first, then we'll get back to you.
Audience Member: You talk about a paradigm shift about [inaudible @37:17]. And that undoubtedly you have to come up with new developer tools for the developers to take advantage both hardware and software. On the other hand, you also talk about [inaudible @37:31]. To me, as a developer, those are the old tools.
Peter: You mean HTML and CSS?
Audience Member: Yeah, they don't really. You have to go through another layer to get to the functionality.
Peter: That's right, you do. That's why you always need an emulator and some kind of IDE like Eclipse or whatever.
Audience Member: No, I'm talking about the functionality of the apps. In order to delight a user, you need to have some kind of native different paradigm of developing new apps. It seems to me that Apple is doing the right thing, even though it's a painful way for people to learn new ways of doing things. But the apps that are coming our are a lot better than a HTML 5 app.
Peter: Do you really believe that?
Audience Member: So far I haven't seen a good HTML 5 app yet, so it could be...
Audience Member: Yeah, we can do it offline. [inaudible @39:36]
Peter: Well what's an example of an app that doesn't work in...
Audience Member: Doesn't work in HTML?
Audience Member: I don't know, some of these like ....
Peter: Have you used a Pre yet, for example?
Audience Member: I haven't used a Pre.
Peter: Try it.
Audience Member: Yeah.
Peter: And take a look for yourself. Look at the calendar. It's a pretty nuanced experience. But I think that there is a grain of truth to what you have said will be minimized over time. You asked about hand writing?
Audience Member: [inaudible @40:18]
Peter: What was the question?
Audience Member: Do you believe in the future in some way? [inaudible @40:22]
Peter: Absolutely. Because people like to write. Paul Rand in "Design, Form and Chaos", was decrying how a lot of his students can't draw anymore. They're only using computers and as a result everything ends up looking the same. Endless variations on the same theme rather than broad big thoughts. I think that handwriting and drawing is human expression. I think that text-based communications is certainty efficient and readable, and translatable, and can be restructured and re-purposed and the thoughts of it all so that they can be rendered beautifully at different sizes. I don't think you can never replace the poetic quality and individual quality of handwriting. Just like signatures. Is that what you were asking?
Audience Member: Yes. You don't have to answer this, but you mentioned you switched to iPhone.
Peter: No, that is not a correct statement. I have, in my new role, I
absolutely need to understand what is out there, including
Nokia's products. I'm getting an N-900 on Monday. I need to
not be arrogant about the experience and the UI
architecture of this an android and WebOS. Unlike, Jon
Rubinstein, I actually have used an iPhone, anyone that
remembers that quote he said, he'd never one, to me that
was pretty funny. Last week I had a Samsung Captivate that
I used for a couple of weeks.
I actually think that right now, I really like the android. The android experience graphically, in terms of it's user interface isn't that type. But I really like the overall experience. The quality, the hardware, the incredible rich app catalog. I find this sort of like a Fisher Price phone, its so discoverable, you can hand it to anybody and they can use it. The UI model and it's lack of multi-tasking what's in here is not multi-tasking. It's not good enough for me. I appreciate it and I think that as an overall team these guys are doing incredible work, and I have a lot of respect for them and the android stuff that HTC is doing.
I don't think one solution and I think that there is room for some broadly differentiated products that's stylistically are different. You drive a BMW, you drive a F150, and god dammit, I love that how they are different, nobody wears the same shoes, and nobody has the same watch and as aesthetics as it relates to self esteem. We don't all want to be the same. That should also be true in how these products evolve.
Audience Member: You've mentioned that in one of your replies it was kind of like [inaudible @43:46] be competitive on the market. Do you think Windows Mobile 7 will achieve this [inaudible @43:53] experience?
Peter: I really like Windows Mobile 7, its metaphor, graphics design and I've seen, I had dinner with Peter Chou HTC's C.E.O. a couple of weeks a go and I got to see a preview. I think it's going to be relevant. I think their business model is a little messed up, because they are actually charging for the OS and nobody else is. I think that's going to be a challenge, but I think nobody's really grabbed the enterprise space in the smart phone market yet, and they've got a good crack at it. I like what Albert Shum and his team are doing.
Audience Member: Do you think they are committed to it a long term and they are not going to pull [inaudible @44:31] on it and keep going.
Peter: They are not going to pull the ken on it. No and they've fired a bunch of people and reshuffled all their leadership recently. They recognized that they are irrelevant if they don't get this right.
Audience Member: How much of your design is focused on the market? [inaudible @44:55] set of people with them just on business or you just on designing and then pull this one off.
Peter: No, in the context of my new job starting tomorrow or in the context of my old job?
Audience Member: I think the new job is more interesting.
Peter: Well, I'll give you my opinion since I'm not an official spokesperson of Nokia or Palm at this stage. My opinion is that most companies except for Apple absolutely over
segment. Segmentation for the most part is a total
distraction and can really, absolutely mess up your
organization and deliver way too many products that are too
complicated in trying to fit all these different needs.
I think there are a lot of needs that are universal. I would like to hope that Nokia might focus on a smaller range of really great products. But I do believe that some segmentation is required. I think that size is one of the most important ones. I think that a lot of women don't want to carry around a 4.3 inch diagonal toaster phone. Right?
I mean having a cute little phone that fits in your purse is kind of nice. A lot of these phones got really big. A lot of men feel the same way. So I think size is a big differentiator. And I think the input is a big differentiators. But because the subsidy models are so heavy at the high-end that is displacing all the feature phones that are being priced about the same.
I think you're often better off just doing a couple great phones with really high quality materials. Don't paint plastic to look like metal. Put a lot of quality in to the experience because the expectations on the hardware side have come up so much and the supply chain has enabled, and I can talk about this for a while, but I was in China about six months ago and I was on the line where I saw all of the new machined aluminum phones being done at Catcher in China.
It is just amazing. You take a billet of aluminum, the same way that my laptop is made. I didn't see that line but I saw a line very similar to it. They extrude the material right there. Big aluminum billets. They put them in this giant hydraulic extruder, heat the thing up and this giant fifty foot piece of aluminum that is the cross section of the phone.
And certainly that is kind of what they're doing with the stainless steel frame here. And then they hog out the machine. The entire thing. They machine a solid billet of aluminum. Like on Google Nexus One. That is a solid billet of aluminum that is machined and bead blasted and anodized. It's mind boggling.
There are maybe nine thousand computer numerically controlled CNC machines in a factory that is multi floor and extends for football fields. And it's one off. They're building them one off.
This is not like production was done several years ago. They've bought the entire capacity of these Japanese CNC manufacturing companies for a couple years to support this whole shift where you can actually do one off machined mass produced products in the millions. It's an unbelievable shift in the industry.
Moderator : We're out time unfortunately. 1:00 on the dot, so I'd like to thank Peter for coming.
Audience Member: do you have any more phones in your pocket?
Peter: I only brought two. I often carry three.
Audience Member: Good luck.
Peter: Thanks a lot.