I’ve been giving some thought as to what I think the wave of the future will be, in part because if I were to come up with a good idea for a product, I’d contemplate leaving here in a heartbeat and go build whatever it is I think will be the wave of the future.
And I think I know what that is.
As an aside, if you’re going to build the next great product–look for the next Google or the next Apple, the best place to start is with “I want.” As in “I want a great camera with a built-in GPS so I know where I took my pictures.” Don’t build a product because you think someone else will buy it–build something that you want to buy yourself. Unless you’re completely weird, chances are, someone else will also want to buy what you want to buy.
And I know what I want.
I want easy to use consumer electronics. I want an answering machine that doesn’t require a friggin’ Ph.D. to use. I want a digital recorder that doesn’t make me feel stupid. I want a way to get e-mail without feeling dumber than a pile of rocks.
Actually, what I want, honestly speaking, is stuff which is designed around ease of use.
I think, by the way, that this has been Google’s secret sauce. Say you’re looking for widgets. Go to Yahoo! (disclaimer: I work at Yahoo) then go to Google, and tell me which is easier for your grandmother to use.
Yahoo!: a window full of crap; hard to identify which of a dozen boxes I should type into to find something.
Google: a single edit form. Type ‘widgets’ and go.
And that’s what I want as well: stuff around my house that my grandmother could use if she were still alive. Not stuff full of a thousand flashing lights which to a demented geek says “cool high tech” but to someone who is older, intimidates her back to her bedroom under the comforting warmth of a comforter while she wishes for the good ol’ days when things didn’t flicker, flash, and beep at her like demented little monsters with trapped fireflies for eyes.
Our components and gadgets are designed for people with attention deficit disorder, and it doesn’t have to be.