My friend Jeremy Toeman, a consumer electronics veteran who has brought some excellent products to market (including the Slingbox and the Drobo), has a great post on his blog titled "8 reasons why most gadgets suck."
Here are his top 3 reasons:
- "They are ill-conceived. I think the picture of the MP3 player slash breathalyzer I took at CES is the best example here. Too many people sitting in board rooms thinking up crazy ideas that apply to nobody. Also, convergence for the sake of convergence is a terrible idea. If you think consumers want keyboards in their living rooms, or more remote controls, or to carry around something that doesn't fit in a pocket OR a backpack, you have the wrong consumer experts on your team."
- "Too much jargon. If the average Joe can't figure out how to add contacts using a Moto RAZR, forget putting in a network setup screen that asks them which type of wireless network security their SSID uses. If you can't figure out how to make a setup screen have regular old English, then you've made your product too hard to figure out by regular people. Think of it this way: the average person out there is uncomfortable with the concepts of "inputs and outputs" on their stereos - so if you are even minorly more sophisticated than that, you are confusing people."
- "Unusable interfaces. A product should be usable without an instruction manual. Sending an SMS, synching MP3s or podcasts, and creating Season Passes should be as easy as making instant popcorn in the microwave. Granted there's always room for "power user features" but the power users should be the 20%, not the 80%, of people who buy your product. If your "usability designer" (who probably has a Ph. D) shows you something and you don't instantly understand it without explanation, it's not good enough."