Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scalable Design Elegance - Features, functionality, functional capability and how I cannot decide on a new smartphone !

I have been using smartphones for close to 6 years now and consider myself an advanced user with a high geek quotient. I like to keep myself up-to-date with the latest gizmos and am always on the lookout for the next cool gadget to add to my collection.

While I have blown money on multiple new gadgets (DSLR, eReaders, Gaming Consoles and software suites), I have not changed my smartphone for more than 2 years. In fact, I have not changed the platform at all. My first smartphone was AudioVox PPC 6500 with Sprint in 2005. Since then, I have owned HTC Mogul 6800, HTC Touch Pro and my current phone HTC Touch Pro 2. While I graduated to new versions (WM 6.1 to WM 6.5) and switched instruments, I have managed to stick to Microsoft's, alas ! now doomed platform, Windows Mobile. 

For more than an year, I have been looking to buy my next smartphone. I have zealously kept track of every new version and Apps landscapes of new platforms viz. iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7.  I have been evaluating the implications of moving to one of these platforms and so far I have not found a smartphone model that fits my requirement. 

And this got me thinking !
  • "Am I afraid of change, to let go of what I've become used to over the last 6 years?" - The answer was no. I am normally excited when moving to new platforms. It's almost an obsessive compulsion with me to 'figure things out'. I can keep myself busy, till I have figured out every feature, functionality, settings, tweaks and so on, whether it's XBox Kinect console or a new software suite. For example, I have mastered GIMP, InkScape and PhotoShop, but I still get excited and spend considerable time trying out new image editing, painting Apps on my wife's iPad 2. Similarly for Video Editing; I used Nero for 4 years but easily switched to Sony Vegas when needed to. So it definitely is not a reluctance to change.
  • "Is money the problem?" Hmm.. :) I have the budget approval from Finance Minister at home so that is not a consideration either. In fact I'm worried that my wife may buy an Android or iPhone5 for my coming B'day.
  • And lastly the legacy problem - "The latest phones, platforms do not appeal to my geeky fondness for legacy things". For a while, I believed that this was the case. The way old timers continue to yearn for Unix or Dos prompt as they adopt Windows based OS. While I liked my wife's iPad 2, I would not buy it for myself. She lent it to me for a few days to take with me on a recent business trip. I actually got used to typing sans physical key-board and really enjoyed the rich media on iTunes, the drawing apps, the battery life and so on but in the end it (iOS) fell short compared to my Win 6.5 on HTC Touch Pro-2. 
So what is it that is making me nervous and reluctant to decide on a new platforms in the face of an absolute knowledge of demise of Windows 6.5 platform.
To make sense of my inability to decide in the face of perplexing, and what I consider, a choice between equally unfavorable options, I started breaking down the problem and I think I am beginning to finally figure it out. 
I am hypothetically, calling it as my need for a 'Scalable Design Elegance' in a platform. I would like to be truly agnostic of the platform as long as I can find utility and value. So here is the premise - I need "Design Elegance" that can scale and continuously allow me to discover deeper functional capability as my need for each feature continues to mature. The three key elements, If I can break them down are,
  1. Features (What I need the smartphone to do)
  2. The Functionality (how the features are implemented)
  3. Functional Capability (How much more or different things I can do for a given functionality)
Over the next series of blogs, I will take some of the key smartphone features (like email, keyboard, home screen etc.) and try and articulate what I like in my current smartphone and how the current spate of phones fall short in my need for the Scalable Design Elegance.
Through these blogs, I am hoping to get a clarity to decide on my next smartphone and more importantly get myself out of the resignation to this cognitive dissonance in my search for the perfect smartphone. 

Part II of this blog is - here


Anonymous said...

seriously Sminkal? iPad had lesser features that a Winmo 6.5 phone? I find that VERY hard to believe. And a MS product fails miserable on all the three parameters you mentioned .right...RIGHT?

sminkal said...

Exactly the reason for this blog. The things I'm able to accomplish with Win 6.5 (with Apps/Add-ons, of-course), I'm not able to find the same in the iPhone. It's the third parameter (scalable functional capability) but allow me to make my case in subsequent blogs. :)

Piyush S. Shah said...

I am still beginner..It was nice to read so much about smartphone..! like it, Sminkal..

Piyush S. Shah said...

For beginner like me, it is treat.. Came across too many complexities in smart phones..

Nicely articulated one..