Way back when we were both managing energetic and headstrong toddlers, my college roommate Anne revealed her most prized parenting secret. She whispered, “Never underestimate the bribery power of a cheap toy.” As I read the endless blah blah blah editorial commentary on the Apple iPhone, I am reminded of a stunningly under-appreciated principle of good design: “Never underestimate the power of making a product fun.”
That pretty much summarizes what I see going on with the iPhone.
I had my first glimpse Saturday night when our used-to-be-a -VC friend Ron whipped it out at dinner. “Let me show you my new toy!” The enthusiasm in his dancing eyes was just like a kid with a shiny bike. And as Ron launched into an extended demo (despite spousal eye rolling) I was completely captivated. (And that same eye-rolling spouse came over the next day to return my pie plate and somewhat bashfully pulled her own new iPhone out of her pocket. She looked hooked too.)
It’s the fun factor that pulled me and my son back to the Apple store twice in 24 hours to check it out. It was the fun factor that had mobs of people clustered around the iPhone demo table, eagerly showing each new discovery to the strangers gathered nearby. Some of the customers already knew more than the Apple store staff.
Why? Because it was really entertaining and rewarding and just plain fun to play with the darned thing.
Yeah, I know the AT&T network can be glacially slow. Yeah, the Outlook import function is buggy. Yeah, the 4G storage is teeny and it doesn’t have GPS. Yet, even though I’ve studiously avoided acquiring a Blackberry or Treo–they just look like drudgery–I now find myself nearly lusting after an iPhone. I don’t need to be the first on the block to have it, but I hear the siren song. So what if it brings the same risks of office addiction and 24 hour availability as the Crackberry. It just looks like fun. Fun is in short supply in the tech world, for the average Jane like me. I gotta grab it when I can.