Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are devices getting too complex?

One of the aspects of the new media that I continue to grapple with is the matter of complexity. I've always been an early-adapter, paying premiums for the newest toys, and have a house filled with computers (my wife and I have 8 working computers in our house; we regularly use five of them), iPhones, iPads, DVRs, Apple TV and the like. But how complex do I want my devices?

This week I was struck by two different trends. Yesterday it was Starbucks' plan to pack more into its smart phone application, including the ability to pay for your coffee by holding up your smart phone.

Today, it's a report that consumers are indifferent to Internet-connected TV. Most people -- 62 percent, a survey said -- "are not connected or not capable" and "most plan to stay that way."

A couple of weeks ago, it was a report that smart phones may eliminate keys -- including car keys, using Internet connections.

All this makes me wonder if we are asking too much of our equipment. Is it getting just too complex? Case in point: While I was away recently, my daughter and wife wanted to watch a movie on Netflix, which I connect to a TV using an Apple TV connector box. Reaching Netflix involved changing a TV setting using a cable TV-provided remote to shift to another component, then the Apple TV remote to make the connection with Netflix. Since I generally use these connections, my family didn't know how to get to the film at Netflix, and ended up skipping it.

Seems to me that the plans detailed above -- especially the Internet key option -- are not only complex, but fraught with the possibilities of bad things happening. What if the Internet goes out, and I can't get my car to open. Even a 3g or 4g network can be spotty (using Skype from Italy last month was almost impossible due to the lousy network).

So maybe that 62 percent is opting for simplicity. And they may be right.

No comments: