The UI Problem

5:20 PM -- Now that the iPhone is here, we’re beginning to hear about iPhone killers. Let’s get one thing straight first: The iPhone is the most sophisticated smartphone ever, and the reason for this has nothing to do with its specific user interface, which has that devilishly clever swagger typical of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), or its user-programmability or lack thereof, which I’ve heard some analysts use as a qualifying point as to whether a device is in fact a smartphone or not. Rather, it’s the big-OS/big-browser combination, and this alone is what will define the next generation of smartphones.

But -- that’s not to say that just changing the user interface alone won’t do the trick for some vendors. If imitation is indeed the most sincere form of flattery, than have a look at the HTC Touch. This smartphone uses Windows Mobile 6, but has a gestural interface reminiscent of that on the iPhone. Slide your finger, get a result -- I’m sure it takes a little practice, but it is cool regardless. And, like the iPhone, no keyboard: Soft keyboards could become a big thing, along with tiny little bottles of screen cleaner packaged with designer wipes.

But, seriously, no single user interface is going to make everyone happy -- some degree of frustration is inevitable. It would be nice if mobile devices would allow some degree of customization here, rather than forcing everyone to learn something new. Inflexibility in the UI could indeed backfire, as IT departments suffering from increasing training and support costs put fewer mobile devices on the ever-critical Approved List.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

AllKindsOfThings 12/5/2012 | 3:05:16 PM
re: The UI Problem Having a gesture based shell cover-up on top of a windows mobile operating system - especially when it makes you inevitable end up in applications that were designed for the marginally mobile adapted look and feel of the wanna be desktop experience of Windows Mobile is a bit like putting a Ferrari Testarossa Chasis onto a Lada Nova, isn't it?
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