are mobile phone designs really too complex still?

Russell Beattie says this about modern mobile phone interface design:

Mobiles are the ultimate consumer computer. They are meant to be used by 12 year olds, teens, college kids, business people and your mother in law. But right now, the design of the interface is still way too confusing.

Russell definitely gets it. The real problem is that there’s too much choice — too many vendors, models, competing ideas, etc. A small minority of people can cope well with choice, but the majority just can’t. They need two choices, that’s it, either this or that. Too many phones with too many buttons (“… and not enough love to go around …“) — this is the land of confusion. People might even be better off if they only had one choice, but then they’d whine about monopolization and other nonsense instead.

Jonathan Schwartz made this statement after attending 3GSM:

And just in case you missed it, let me say it again: the majority of the world will first experience the internet through their mobile phones. We sometimes forget that 10 times as many people bought handsets last year as PC’s. Round numbers, there were a BILLION wireless devices sold last year, and around 100 million PC’s.

I can just see it now … millions of teenage kids surfing porn on their mobile phones, texting each other in solicitation for phone sex, mobile phone communities where they can pour out their emo whiny angst — is this where I think the future of technology ought to be? If the history of the Internet and the Web is doomed to repeat itself When The (Mobile) Revolution Comes, this is exactly where the future will end up, sadly.

As a parent of young kids, I won’t be looking for more user-friendly phones, instead I’ll be looking for phones with Parental Controls and anti-virus protection. In essence, I’ll want a company like AOL as my wireless provider, because they’ll look for ways to make my phone safer, simpler and easier to use. Sure, there’ll be the Yahoo!‘s and Google‘s of the industry creating really cool products for the niche geek audience, and they might keep a company like AOL on their toes in the user-friendly consumer space, but lets look at what company has years of experience in the space? There’s a reason AOL got the pejorative nickname “the training wheels for the Internet” — it’s true — and in the next several years, perhaps AOL can become “the training wheels of the mobile phone industry,” helping millions of people make use of their phones.

Or, maybe Yahoo will beat them to it, with really bright guys like Russell working for them. Or, something completely unexpected comes along and displaces mobile technology entirely (as we know it today) — that’d be very, very cool, too.

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