It’s very easy to get excited about cool new gadgets and devices, isn’t it? I am guilty of it. Thing is, these gadgets are often far too complex. Their creators often try to cram in too many wonderful features. It happens in software too, but I think the effect is far more noticeable with physical devices. I doubt I will stop getting so excited about new gadgets anytime soon, but I have been thinking about it, and the devices I appreciate most are focused on doing one thing well.
It’s kind of like the 37signals philosophy:
We’re focused on executing on the basics beautifully.
I wish more gadget makers made that their goal. A camera is a camera. A media player is a media player. A phone is a phone. Why do they have to be combined into one? Usually what ends up happening is that the device suffers. Take my phone for example. It’s great at making and receiving calls, and sending text messages back and forth. As a still or video camera, it totally sucks. And as an audio player? It’s not even worth the trouble.
My camera on the other hand, is wonderful. It’s a Canon Digital Rebel, and it does one thing and one thing only: it takes photos very well. Unlike my phone, which had to be designed to support the extra features (so maybe a little thicker for the camera, an extra button to start the video, etc), my camera is a focused device. Every feature is there specifically to help me take photos. And I appreciate it.
I know the idea is that you could carry less stuff if you had one gadget that did everything, but I’d rather have separate gadgets that do their jobs very well than one gadget that does a bunch of jobs poorly. Maybe one day we’ll have a gadget that can morph into a contextually appropriate focused gadget…but that’s a long way off.