If Apple gets into the cell phone game, we might actually get a well-designed phone

“It’s changed the way we talk to each other. It’s turned us into multi-taskers. It’s taught us how to text. It’s revolutionized our jobs by allowing us to work on the move. It’s democratized the news media by enabling passers-by to photograph extraordinary events. It’s given us access to the Internet, e-mail, music, social networks, a camera, clock, diary and phone – all in one tiny box,” Alice Rawsthorn writes for The International Herald Tribune.

Rawsthorn writes, “No object has had as dramatic an impact on our lives in the past decade as the cellphone. Only the computer comes close. But more of us use a cellphone, and our relationship with it is more intimate. The cellphone is one of the handful of personal objects – like a watch – that we take with us almost everywhere.”

“So why are they so badly designed? And we’re not talking about dodgy network service here, but the phones themselves,” Rawsthorn writes. “Perhaps you don’t think there’s a problem. If you’re gazing lovingly at your cellphone, marveling at how simple it is to use, how pleasing to look at and to touch, then, of course, you’ll consider it to be well designed. Though I’ve yet to meet anyone who agrees with you. Few questions are more likely to elicit groans and complaints than asking people what they think of their cellphones.”

Rawsthorn writes, “In fairness to cellphone makers, it is exceptionally difficult to design anything really well, especially a technically complex product that is manufactured in huge quantities. A well-designed object, like the Apple iPod, looks so effortless and can be used so intuitively, that it’s easy to underestimate the Herculean struggle required to produce it. There are many obstacles to great design. Inventing new materials. Predicting how the product will be used. Turf wars between designers, sales representatives and engineers. It takes a massive effort of corporate will – and the support of a visionary leader, like Apple’s Steve Jobs – to overcome them.”

“All this could change if a dynamic new player entered the market, and the likeliest contender to do so is Apple. It’s an open secret that Apple has been considering plans to launch a cellphone. Let’s call it the iPhone. Ever protective of its brand, Apple is unlikely to introduce the iPhone until it is convinced that it has the best possible product, which would involve rethinking everything about the cellphone and how it works, including the role of the networks,” Rawsthorn writes. “It is in a powerful position to do so. The iPod proved how successful Apple’s design values could be in a new product sector. Could a cellular network risk missing out on telecom’s answer to the iPod? And a well-designed iPhone might force the established cellphone makers to raise their design game, too.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Eli” for the heads up.]

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  1. If Apple had NOT been on-track to develop a cell phone, all these constant iPhone articles would certainly have been enough for Apple to say, “Well, they seem to want one. Why don’t we try it?”

    I hope there’s a PDA in it.

  2. The new Blackberry Pearl from T-Mobile is the best designed phone I’ve ever used. Well, it can render HTML email for some idiotic reason, but that’s a software problem.

    An iPhone? It had better be unlocked for all GSM providers, run EDGE and UMTS, have an innovative and easy-to-use texting system, long battery life, good sound for those of us who can’t hear, and pick up leggy blondes.

  3. I hate my cellphone and my wife hates her treo. The software is awful but at least you can….gasp….make a phone call with them. If Apple makes the iPhone and makes a SIMPLE userface that will enter and store phone numbers, pictures and with flash memory to play tunes, people won’t care about getting a new phone to renew their contract. They will happily purchase it. I would but two.
    Oh yes, and make it easy to transfer data back and forth between your Mac and the phone ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. I bought a cell phone about 5 years ago and hated it. Haven’t had one since. Resisted all friends bitching “why don’t you have a cell phone!?” Swore I woudn’t get another until Apple came out with one.

    My dreams may come true–FINALLY!
    My holdout was worth it.

    MDN Magic word: KIND as in Apple will make the best kind of Cell Phone in the world!

  5. To Simply, You may say Sony Erricson makes goos ones. Heck I have a Moto I like. But that only pertains to the build.

    There does not exist a good cell phone when it comes to software. They are all in some way or another inadequate in the software.

    Its either the contact/addressbook and finding your Aunt Bertha’s #. Or it is the way the buttons act during a call. On every phone I have ever used (many) there was at least one, if not many, things where I would say, “That is stupid.”

    This article is right on, and it is also late to the game. We have all known this.
    If there was a complany that I think could get it right…its Apple. But remember this, Don’t get your hopes up for iPhone ver. 1 to blow your doors off on day 1. We all remember the iPod, the original one, with the actual spinning scroll wheel, dont we?

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