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Technology: how Apple builds a better widget

Technology trends are an awkward animal to predict. What makes a good technology is often the result of solving a bad idea, or an even worse problem. But sometimes, good technology just isn’t good enough…

Apple logoTechnology trends are an awkward animal to predict. What makes a good technology is often the result of solving a bad idea, or an even worse problem. But sometimes, good technology just isn’t good enough…

David Bradley, science writer and fellow blogger gave some fresh air to a (minor) rant of his on the subject of schizoid Luddites:

“Is this post just a rant about people who are less adept at using the common tools of the modern world? I suppose it is in one sense. But, what scares me is the pride with which many of the people who claim they don’t understand ‘computers’ brandish their ignorance.”

He’s not wrong. But then again, it’s an issue that’s sort of beyond simple right and wrong, much the same as evolution — so now you’re wondering what the hell evolution has to do with people not “getting” technology.

He goes on to retell the story of a friend of his, Kim Woodbridge, whose experiences with her colleagues became endlessly frustrating, because they couldn’t be bothered with learning anything new and just wanted Kim and her other colleagues to “just make it work”.

But there’s another way of looking at this, and it’s sort of Darwinism for technological development.

Essentially, people’s reluctance to use new technologies forces us (those that will) to consider ways of creating not just new, but novel technologies that are simpler to use.

Apple understand this only too well, mostly because they keep asking “what if?” and “why?” all the way throughout the many / various stages of development, saving us the trouble.

Citing technical reasons isn’t anything like an excuse. And for all their technology smarts, even Apple aren’t immune, with the on-going Adobe Flash support and background process sagas testimony to such problems; people just want those things to work. But for technical reasons, Apple are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

In fairness to Apple, the reasons for their technological impasse are entrenched in the minutia of software security, device stability and battery life. But their customers just don’t care — other mobile phone manufacturers can handle it, so why not Apple?

So now Apple are the hapless victims of the extremely high expectations their customers have come to expect from their benign yet extremely well managed digital dictatorship.

Indirectly, people are asking the innovators to make them a better widget, one that’s less hassle and simpler to use than the last one.

Those that can see the legitimate value of feedback hidden within the complaints are the ones who realize the fullest potential of their ideas, turning them into the innovations people love…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Technology: how Apple builds a better widget”

Just for the record Apple have noticed a lot of benefits this year thanks for their innovations and e-phones. Having in mind that the markets are under crises.

Thanks for that post, every single information about the brands is wonderful to be read.

Rather than Darwinism for technology wouldn’t a similar analogy be that technological developments follow Occam’s Razor – or crudely put, the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is most likely the correct explanation. By substituting ‘explanation’ with use of technology you get something close to what you are referring.

The simplicity of a solution to any given problem doesn’t always correlate with the effort required in producing that solution in the first place.

While the human eye (or eyes in general, of which there have been ten throughout the history of biological evolution) appears elegant, that apparent elegance belies its complexity.

To put it another way, a simple solution is often only simple in so far as its application and not its design…

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