Monday, June 08, 2009

palm pre: use-case analysis vs iphone

Like many of you I've been tracking the development and release of the Palm Pre as an example of how to go after a market leader.

And like many of you I've been wondering how the Palm Pre stacks up against the iPhone where it truly counts - the day-to-day user experience. Because the Pre certainly looks nice and seems to stack up well on paper, with a few key advantages that you'd think would really resonate with the buying public.

So when I find detailed user experience comparisons between the two devices, I pay close attention.

Here's one I discovered this morning on a comment chain in response to an article describing a Palm Pre tear-down over at AppleInsider.

Reader MacShack (not his real name, in case you were wondering) offered the following:
You want to go to a website on the Pre? You go to the browser. Shift open de (sic) keyboard. Type in the web address. Slide it in again to read the website. Now imagine that you are reading a web page sideways (which I do a lot). You then want to go to a different web site. You first have to turn the phone, shift open the keyboard, type in the address, shift the keyboard back in and turn the phone sideways again. What an obvious design error. At least they should have, just like the G1, have the keyboard come out from the side. This way they would have had more space for the keys, which I read are very hard to type with, and wouldn't have to turn the phone back and forth to type things on a webpage or other stuff.

I'd like to hear from someone at Palm why the aforementioned design for this use-case was chosen and implemented, and I'd like to know if they measured how often users manually navigate to webpages from other webpages while using the phone in landscape mode as part of the decision process.  Because it seems broken.

How often do the minute details of a product's design spell the difference between success and failure? Obsessing over these sorts of details may not show up in marketing materials or websites, but it is critical to the success of products you expect to be used by "real people" who get frustrated by inconsistencies in the user experience.  It's the equivalent of sand in your shoe - you can live with it for a while, but sooner or later it drives you mad.

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