Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Why is the Blackberry so damn ugly?

I have lots of friends and associates who ask "how do I get email on my phone?" A good question and, I guess, I'm a good person to answer it. Not only have I spent what seems like a lifetime designing, implementing, analysing, assessing and breaking mobile email systems, but I run a UK-centric forum for Blackberry Users. I think it's the only club of its kind, by which I mean it is aimed as users, not techies.

As you might expect (or perhaps you might not!) invariably I suggest "get a Blackberry". And I'm not even on a commission! "You need email push" I exclaim, although that is available on other devices these days.

However, almost without exception...
...actually, entirely without exception, I am told something like "that thing's too ugly".

It doesn't matter how hard I try to take a function-driven approach, my detractors pull me back, usually swiftly, to a design-biased approach.

"Ah, but it's easy to use..." I say.

"Maybe, but it's ugly!"
"...and it's got no goodies!"

Recently I sat in a seminar where an operator representative puzzled over why more people don't buy Blackberries. "I just don't get it" he said. I've gone into this topic before and I can offer various explanations, but I'm beginning to think that design has a lot to do with it.

It's not chic, it's not sexy, it's not pretty...and it's not playable!

I don't mean games (although something more interesting than break-out would be nice), but you just don't want to pick it up and play with it, like a Rubiks cube lying on the coffee table (I dare you not to pick it up).

Of course, some will argue the opposite..."it does the job" blah blah. I'm telling you that I've been there. It doesn't work!

One thought about device design. Has anyone thought to ask the likes of George Lucas and his visual artists to come up with some concept designs for a PDA? Whatever you say about Star Wars, some of those set designs are just incredible.

A Star Wars Blackberry? Umm....maybe.

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