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SXSW Panel: Life After The iPhone


Maestracci (Groove Mobile) / Jenson (Mobile UI Manager, Google) / Kaushansky (Tellme, Microsoft) / Ryan / Outlaw (Avenue A | Razorfish)

Kaushansky: Saying “mobile” doesn’t cut it anymore. Is the person walking? Driving? Is it noisy?

Outlaw: Sees iPhone as the beginning of an age of disruptive mobility. Traditional user experience deliverables are rapidly becoming extinct. Lack of standards in mobile will require hands-on experimentation.

Q: What do you love and not love about iPhone?

Maestracci: Multitouch was a breakthough in usability. But simple tasks like making calls, SMS, are somewhat challenging.

Jenson: Audacity of design… No menus or scroll-bars. But you can’t do the web in your pocket… But Apple keeps pushing that. You don’t want to read the NYT on these things.

Kaushansky: Impressed by visual voicemail. But coming from the voice world, why does it take five clicks to make a phone call? Why can’t I just say “call mom?”

Outlaw: A historic benchmark in mobile user experience. Myth was cell phones needed to be complicated to use. Apple broke that. Wonder if having hardware and software inseparable is going to be along term problem… Looking back, Windows won the desktop because you could extend it.

Jenson: Enabling much of the desktop. But what’s best on mobile? iPhone may reinvent itself as a new Blackberry. But because its so popular you may be able to fund stupid stuff…

Q: Who else is taking design seriously in mobile?

Maestracci: Sony Erricson is trying to push the envelope in a traditional way. Things you have to look at… Minimum clicks. SE is paying attention to that, opposite of the iPhone.

Kaushansky: In the past voice didn’t take advantage of screens, and screens didn’t take advantage of voice. But we’re starting to see that.

Q: How would you define a good user experience on screen?

Outlaw: What iPhone did well is strip phone down to core, essential features. Many phones have way more features than actually needed. Users will willing to pay more money and have fewer features to have those features work well. Interesting contenders include the Sidekick, which may be too big, but has a great keyboard and a great messaging machine. PSP slim with Skype could be interesting, as well as Skype phone in dev in UK.

Jenson: iPhone has gone too far in some ways. Worst SMS app ever, especially if you come from somewhere like Europe where its used all the time. Those feature limits have impacts. Makes him wonder if we need to have pain points to achieve minimalism.

Kaushansky: iPhone is great for entertainment, but its not a great device for communication. Sidekick is better for that. You have to ask, what’s the main goal of the device? Who’s going to be using it? It’s not one device for all, its what kind of person is going to be using it… And then build and design accordingly.

Q: Open access.

Maestracci: Android and iPhone SDK will open things up. Very positive development. Main problem is that today carriers control distribution channel.

Kaushansky: UI developers have to think about context when testing — How do you test voice sync when driving your Ford down the road.

Jenson: Right now the phone is a consumer of information… But it will become more of a producer of information.

Q: What would be your killer app?

Outlaw: Help me find my luggage — luggage search when in airport.

Kaushansky: Move my data wherever I am so I can access it. In my phone, steering wheel, etc.

Jenson: Infinite battery, infinite bandwidth. (Laughter from audience.)

Maestracci: Likes Kaushansky’s idea.

Q from Audience: People love their iPhones… And no one wants to criticize them. Will that make us take a step back?

(Not much of a response to this.)

Kaushansky: It’s moving up design as a discussion at the executive level. That’s probably a good thing.

Q from Audience: What kind of negative impact will iPhone have on SMS? Will it reduce usage of SMS overall.

Jenson: Hard to say. Apple’s trying hard to fix it. Uncomfortable saying it’ll impact the entire industry.

Q from Audience: Curious what you think about stylus inputs? iPhone is pretty good, but some time a stylus would be nice. What about things like drawing and sketching?

Jenson: As an option, sure. It gives you a much richer, granular experience, but it makes you feel extra geeky. And what happens when you lose the damn thing? That said, not a fan of the iPhone keyboard.

Outlaw: iPhone killers will have an opportunity to look at how people interact with devices, and what’s best. Keyboards, etc.

Q from Audience:  Are we going to start seeing sites optimized for iPhones at the expense of other mobile sites.  (Which could make the iPhone more ubiquitous.)

Jenson:  iPhone is raising standard, but it would be an interesting logic to lock other users out.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels at 9:59 am

1 Comment

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