27 May 2012

How Intuition Determines Product Experience on the Example of an Intuitive Product as an Apple computer

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Changes happen in the first place gradually, like filling a bucket with water. Quantities sum up until a critical point is reached and it “jumps” into a new quality. In the example of the bucket and the water the water starts running over the edge of the bucket or the bucket even falls over from the weight. It was full. A bigger example of the same is the financial crisis we are in. The quantities piled up until in September 2008 the bucket was full and fell over. The system “jumped” into crisis.
This process applies also to product developments and innovations. When looking very closely on the circle Apple made, the same routine becomes visible. The Apple I had already a small screen almost the size and shape of the iPhone/iPad. Only there was still an extra box necessary for all the operating hardware that wouldn’t fit in the screen yet. So research and development were focusing on the improvement of the parts that were still in the extra box until all parts were so small that they could “jump” into the screen. After developing part after part in a smaller and better way at the end the “bucket was full of water” and could flow over into a new product, the iPad. The screen from the initial Apple I became the computer.
This jump into a new quality of computers has consequences for the user interface and how a computer is experienced. One uses a tablet different from a laptop or desktop computer and a tablet feels and looks different from a laptop and desktop computer. On intuitional level we experience them in a different way and the user’s feeling gets disturbed when this is not reflected in the user interface. The user interface is the embodiment of the connection between the user and the tool tablet or computer. And if it isn’t an expression of that intuitional connection between user and tool it will disrupt the intuitional flow of working with the tool. The tool is not longer an extension of the user.
When developing the tablet the software was adjusted and with it the user interface, which was the right thing to do, because the intuitional connection of a user with a tablet is different than with a laptop or desktop computer. But the same new user interface was also applied to the laptops and desktop computers. That causes problems, because there the intuitional workflow is different and people are using them for different purposes. Maybe one day we will have only tablets for everything and if the screen is to small to do photo editing, we just project the image onto a wall or as a hologram into the room and work on it, but we are not there yet. For now, the wrong interface on laptops and desktop computers is disturbing intuitive work. We need segmentation.
As any email marketer knows, the email lists need segmentation in order to send the right content in the right way to the right client. A client in Spain needs a different approach than a client in China or a client in Houston. The same applies to the tablets and computer interfaces. We are still using both tools and in order to get the best out of them we need to be able to work intuitionally through an interface that reflects this specific intuitional connection. And it is specifically disturbing that a tool like an Apple computer that is highly intuition focused and therefore highly successful lost it, hopefully only for a moment, to see that. We need segmentation in the user interfaces, although the operating system is the same in order to continue intuitional workflow with these incredible tools. There is that “Chinese” client using a desktop and that “Spanish” client using a tablet. They represent segments of the same clientele, yet they are using different tools that represent essentially the same, but represent a different intuitional workflow.
And as marketers know, ignoring that leads to Unsubscribes.

The Invisible Hand of The Cloud

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By the end of this month Apple will stop with MobileMe. The iCloud will be in its place and everything and everybody will be connected to everything and everybody else. The cloud will be the medium for storage, information exchange, updates, backups and what else we might want to do and not know about it yet. The cloud is like an invisible hand that can grab things out of nowhere back onto your computer or store images from your computer somewhere in space.
But just like everything else this got a downside as well. Those of you who have an Apple computer, phone or tablet and are on iCloud might have experienced also the somewhat scary hand that takes hold of your computer. You might be working just as normal on your computer and suddenly mailboxes get moved around in your mail program or safari feels like there is a knot in the internet and data can’t get through or your contacts in the address book change in numbers or suddenly mix up names and phone numbers. Most likely you are experiencing the invisible hand of the cloud. Someone in Cupertino might be working on iCloud and massing up your address book or emails. But these are only the examples when we can see that something is happening from outside in our computer. What else is happening? What else is this invisible hand doing when entering our space through the cloud and changes and takes whatever it wants?
Orson Wells might say, I told you that would happen, but what can we do? The cloud is the future and already the present, but were we asked? I find it scary and it irritates me when just somebody in Cupertino is able to interfere with my computer and I can’t do anything about it, have to stop working and waiting that this person got into somebody else’s computer.
Any ideas how to deal with that?

P.S. Not only Apple is the cloud, all others are too.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

More Than a Scream

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It was all over the news that Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream was marking a new record in artwork sold at an auction. These stories are chasing each other depending, if another Van Gogh or Rembrandt was found and sold. But what about photography?

There was this record sale of Andreas Gursky’s The Rhein II, the photograph of the river Rhein he had altered by removing a power station that was originally in the picture. It was in the beginning of photoshop use that he applied this way of alteration to his artwork. It’s generally said that the innovative application of photoshop to his image made the phographic artwork so special and eventually so expensive. Photoshop was at that time just evolving and the image is representing this era.
But for the “common photographer” the times became harsh. The galleries were saying that the clients are distrusting photographs, because they assume that photoshop was applied and the image is not real. Removing a power station makes the image not a real impression of the reality, but it makes it very clear a digital artwork. Maybe it’s that leaking clarity what makes the client doubtful and hesitating. Maybe the kind of greener bird and bluer sky one feels are not right makes gallery clients distrustful and not willing to pay a reasonable price and because the internet is full of it. So, what to do?
During the month May several photographs of great photographers were sold at auctions and the result was beyond expectations. A photograph from Helmut Newton tripled the pre-sale estimate and portraiture by Peter Beard was one of the stars at Christie’s. Both of them are great artists and essential in their approach.
The top sales in both areas, the digital artwork and the photographic artwork show that authenticity is rewarded. The digital and photographic work realized top sales and not because the object was so special, but the creation was authentic.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

What is Happening to Apple?

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Many of us might have been wondering and worrying what will happen with Apple after Steve Jobs had gone. Some might have thought it will be just fine and continue the way it did before, but the signs are telling something different.

I remember my resistance to move to OSX Lion when reading all the comments in the forums. And when I couldn’t avoid it anymore and made the move I was shocked. Not only because of the difficulties with emails and internet OSX Lion caused, plus some other dysfunction, but the most because of the betrayal of the Apple philosophy regarding user interface design and functionality. Especially the user interfaces of the emails, the calendar and the address book are very disturbing and ergonomically hurting. Apple stood out by making everything easy for the user, one click or look and there was everything. The new interfaces made it complicated, annoying, dysfunctional, disturbing and the colors are bad too. I was hoping for the update OSX Mountain Lion to come to fix the missteps. But it seems that it is getting even worse. In a todays article Gizmodo (
http://tinyurl.com/7p62hzb) gives an overview of new things to happen with Apple products in the near future and it doesn’t sound promising. It seems that the trend of abandoning the track of great and practical design will be continued. What is going on?
The situation reminds me of stories from Zimbabwe, although this must sound far-fetched. There was a time in Zimbabwe when the white farmers had to leave their farms and often their former employees took them over. Some farmers went back to see how everything was going and often the following had happened. Here an example. A farmer had left his house to the employee who had done the maintenance of the house for many years. The farmer thought this employee deserves to live in the house, because he looked after it for many years and he would also be the right person to understand it and to know how to maintain it. When he came back for a visit several years later, the employee was still living in the house, but the house had almost fallen apart. No maintenance was done throughout all the years the employee had taken over the house. Why didn’t he look after the house like he had done all the years before? He had done the maintenance, because he was told to do it, it was his work, but he obviously had never understood why the work was necessary, why a house needed maintenance. He didn’t understand the concept of maintenance.
Now back to Apple. It seems that there are parallels to the concept of maintenance. There might be nobody who actually who really had understood the concept of user-friendly designed interfaces. In the past they only designed them, because they were told to do it, not because they understood them and the design of the interfaces is immediately dropping in quality.
Another aspect of worry is that they are looking at the “last five minutes” of Apple, the very successful and wealthy Apple with money to spend in abundance. Steve Jobs had experienced the nearly dead Apple and pulled it out and into success. Will that happen again when Apple comes in difficult situations with the current decision makers? Or will they just move to another company, one that has to spend money in abundance at that time?

One needs to live the product, philosophy, idea or company one is doing in order to bring it to success and to keep it there. With the big corporates nowadays this is rarely the case. It’s to big and there is mostly no owner or company founder involved anymore who has the personal commitment.

Well. Lets see what’s happening to Apple in the future and hopefully they will either get back on track or an alternative will evolve from all the new young companies.

Ute Sonnenberg,

When a Hobby becomes a Passion

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A bit more than ten years ago digital photography entered our lives. Up until then, photography was something for the people with lots of patience, chemistry knowledge, the space or a willing family member to turn the kitchen into a dark room and time to spend the whole day in it. This changed rapidly with digital photography. Also the less patient and knowledgeable people, with no dark room and little time started doing photography and a bug nestled in them they didn’t know about. It was the bug of passion.
The early adopters had the first digital point and shoot cameras just for fun, ending up being drawn into photography, moving on to SLR, just surrendering to the surge photography can cause in someone’s life. It happened almost unnoticed or we decided not to notice, because it’s so nice and we ended up spending more time with photography than any analog hobby photographer ever spent in a dark room looking at our pictures, processing them, making photo books or other presents we can share with family and friends. Early adopters are nowadays huge crowds and there is probably nobody left who is not mesmerized by photography. A personal hoppy became a global passion.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

How to Photograph the Truth

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When looking at news stories one realizes that there isn’t such a thing as a “true story”. All parties involved in a story have their own truth. We as the observer have our own truth as well and we all together can maybe agree on an essential truth like, yes the car crashed into a tree. But that might be already all we can agree on, probably only because there is a photo showing a car crashed into a tree. About the whys and hows we have our own ideas. Yet there is something more in the image.

There is always the truth of the moment the photo was taken in an image and even this truth differs. The reason is the photographer. In the example of the car crash one image might have been taken by a bystander with the cell phone, another image by a police photographer and another image by a relative of the driver. All three images of the same car crash will show a different truth, because each photographer looks at it with different eyes. The bystander probably wanted to be the first to post the image to the internet. The police photographer will try to photograph the crash in a way that all technical details are in the image for further investigation. The relative most likely will photograph with great compassion, shock and grief. That means that three different truths happened. For the bystander the crash was a sensation, for the police photographer a case and for the relative a disaster. When putting all three photos in the newspaper the reader will see and feel all three truths of the same event.
That means
photographing the truth happens by pressing the shutter. It’s the truth of the moment the photographer connects with in his/her personal way.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com