make mine small, slim, and perfect

How was your weekend? Mine was good. Saw Get Smart and Hellboy II, which I’ll tell you about later. Pretty typical weekend, aside from the fact that I had to work on Saturday, which was a weird way to spend half the day. Oh, and on Friday morning I noticed a big line outside my local AT&T at&t wireless store, which I thought was unusual for a place that’s practically empty most of the time. It probably had something to do with the release of the iPhone 3G. Apple probably sold, like, a million of those things.

No, seriously. Apple sold a million of those things, in one weekend. In the space of a year, they’ve become a kind of telecommunications Chernabog, ruling in imposing majesty from atop a Bald Mountain of discarded RAZRs and Blackberries. Or something. It’s a mental image I have, okay?

Now consider the LG Dare, a knock-off so blatant that you can practically smell the toner fluid. It tries desperately to be an iPhone, doesn’t even get halfway there, and as a final insult to your intelligence, isn’t appreciably cheaper. As a consumer, why would you be tempted to buy this? As a company, how could LG possibly think that this would give Apple any measure of competition?

If I want an iPhone, then congratulations, I’m going to buy an iPhone, not some cheap (in the metaphoric, not monetary, sense) pretender. The thing is, I don’t want an iPhone. I don’t need or want a single device that does a dozen different things, no matter if it does them all perfectly. I’m just not in the market for an iPhone, at least not for the foreseeable future. This, people, is where LG, Nokia, and Motorala can reclaim the market.

Give me a phone, pure and uncomplicated. A small, thin, attractive device. Let if flip open to reveal a large, crisp screen and sturdy, fumble-proof buttons. Empower it only to handle phone calls and text messages. Make its Address Book a joy to look at, with clean typography and smart design. Make it indestructible. Make the battery last a long, long time. Make it in six different colors. Make it out of metal, or plastic, but not some bastard plastic that pretends to be metal.

Give it no camera. Give it no bluetooth. Give it no MEdia browser, or a browser of any kind. No video, no voice recognition, no calendar, no music store. No games, no chat client, no calculator. Keep the alarm clock, because we are not morning people.

In other words, give me just a phone. Bestow upon this phone the absolute bare minimum feature set. The pressure to add, to cram new features and functionality into the case, is gone. Revel in it. Concentrate on perfecting every aspect of the device. Make it something I’d want to use, something I’d want to look at. Fashionable, even. Then sell it to me for fifty bucks, tops. Don’t even bother with rebates, just call a spade a spade.

If you don’t think people will go for a fifty dollar stripped-down device, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. Cheap, focused devices that favor attention to detail over feature completeness (or over-completeness) are doing pretty well nowadays. The Flip, for instance. You wouldn’t think people would want a camcorder like that, but then, thirteen percent of the market inside of a year is pretty good growth, right? Right.

See, I don’t need much from my phone. I don’t need it to take pictures of substandard quality. I certainly don’t need it to play “My Humps” every time a call comes in. Just make it small, slim, and perfect for doing two things. Fully embrace the psychosis, and show me the kind of attention to detail that compels Steve Jobs to put fake screws on his laptops for symmetry. I’ll buy one, and I’ll bet a lot of other people will, too.


(No Comments)

Comments are closed.