Monday, December 02, 2002

iDrive a failure (and other pervasive thoughts)

I've been thinking a lot about pervasive computing recently, and it struck me that as computers appear in more and more everyday devices, they are entering market segments that have avoided computers to date, implying that these folks 1) don't think computers are all that useful and 2) have greater trouble learning how to use them. This means that pervasive technology is trying to get adopted by customers who have the lowest willingness to pay (because they see the smallest benefit) and highest cost (because training cost is part of the price too) of any technology buyer to date. Tough market to crack -- good customer experience will be key in driving adoption.

The Times has an article on how BMW's vaunted iDrive system is an utter failure -- it turns out that cramming 700 functions into a single joystick did not make anything easier to use. What a shock. But I'm sure the usability consultants on the project, Design Continuum will do better next time (watch out for the Flash animation on the way in). *Sigh*

And to bring the comments back to consumer segmentation, here's a Wired article musing about why Mac users are so fanatical. It talks about brands, cults, quality etc. etc., but I'd simply observe that everyone who doesn't care much switched to Windows, leaving just the most inelastic part of the demand curve behind.

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