While on a United Airlines flight over the Atlantic last week, I read an article in the December 2016 issue of United’s Hemispheres magazine, “The Future’s So Bright” by Boyd Farrow (see below).
The article is about Snap Inc.’s new Spectacles video-recording sunglasses. In the article, Mr. Farrow points out that functional and simple are beating out complicated and obtrusive, “…throughout Silicon Valley, there is now a frenzy to simplify consumer objects”. And Brian Solis’ quote, “[u]ser experience and design are the next competitive advantages” further drives home the point that the market is moving towards easy to use tools that do discrete tasks instead of complicated, Swiss Army type solutions that try to be all things to all people.
Users of technology, whether the technology is consumer or business oriented prefer usable, intuitive and valuable over features upon features upon features which can render some of the smartest technology all but unusable. If people cannot use or do not want to use the technology, bells and whistles do not matter.
The market wants simple-to-use tools that work.
The Future’s So Bright by Boyd Farrow: The most in-demand—and possibly groundbreaking—tech device set to debut this holiday season is described by its manufacturer as a toy. Spectacles, the first gadget from Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat), resemble ordinary sunglasses, but a discreet button near the hinge allows the wearer to record up to 10 seconds of video from his or her perspective, and wirelessly share it. At $130, the glasses are $30 cheaper than a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers and quite a bit less than the $1,500 Google Glass, which was supposed to take over the world.
According to Brian Solis, the author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, “It is precisely because Spectacles don’t feature augmented reality or a heads-up display—and can’t run complicated apps—that they will probably succeed where the ambitious Google product failed.”
Doubtless, Snap—which turned a messaging app into an $18 billion company within five years—is well aware of the commercial possibilities of a wearable device that knows what you’re admiring in a store. But, as Solis notes, an “always on, multitasking, narcissistic generation” will likely regard Spectacles’ first-person perspective as a less obtrusive GoPro.
Indeed, throughout Silicon Valley, there is now a frenzy to simplify consumer objects. Amazon’s voice-activated assistant, Echo, is popular precisely because it simply looks cool as a speaker, while Logitech’s new one-button smart home controller, Pop Home Switch, resembles a minimalist, brightly colored toy. Even the rebooted Apple Watch has been repositioned as an attractive fitness tracker, rather than the ultimate communication device it was once touted to be.
“One of the most important trends we’re seeing is technology becoming coy,” Solis says. “User experience and design are the next competitive advantages.”