Why I only create things for …

20 May

I just had a discussion with a designer friend.  As usual, I got my ripping on for only doing stuff for Windows based systems.  I got my usual lecture about the glories of design for Apple and how the iPhone was going to take over the world and it really, lets face it – already had.   How Google’s chrome was right behind it.  How could I possibly still be thinking of designing anything for Windows? It was dead – a dinosaur.  Hardly bleeding edge.  It died a while ago and I needed to really jump on the bandwagon.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m the first to appreciate the design and innovation of the iPhone, even the Mac, Linux and other OS’s… Heck, I’m a huge fan of the design work that went into the OLPC.  But let’s have a reality check here before we all go running down to drink Kool-Aid and jump in the river to be saved okay?

Here’s the latest numbers on what Operating Systems are being used to access the Internet from NetMarketShare, based on actual use by people. 


Now… if you want to know why I specialize in Windows based technologies… there’s your answer.  Pretty simple. 

But to the bigger question of “Is designing for Windows based technologies no longer “bleeding edge”?  Windows, to me, isn’t static, the desktop isn’t static.  It’s very very much alive.  Very dynamic.  Because it’s just an Operating System.  It’s just a desktop.  What I put on that desktop.  What I make it do.  How I make it do that – that’s beyond the bleeding razors edge. 

Anyone can design for a new platform and be creative or original.  Literally even bad ideas become “bleeding edge”, even the ones which aren’t really all that useful or practical or provide a level of function that people didn’t have before. 

If you look at the iPhone development community – it’s a bit like the rest of the mobile phone community.  Aside

Augmented Reality Watch Demo

from work being done in augmented reality – which are currently mostly demos using adobe after effects -I haven’t seen anything there that really excited me and made me say, “Wow I should look into more of that.”. 

Now, there’s a lot of stuff going on now in the Augmented Reality space (I’ve mentioned in previous posts the merging of video and entertainment and new technologies so this isn’t like its a shocker).  But a lot of the really really cool stuff isn’t just happening in the mobile market.  And until it’s happening on more than just the iPhone – well it’s not of much interest to me.

Why?  Look at the numbers above.  iPhones sitting with around .53% of the overall OS market share, now look at the Android… it’s not even a year old fully and it’s sitting at .09%.  In two years – the iPhone has only been able to snake out .53%??  It’s freaking everywhere it seems… everywhere I go I see people talking about building an app for the iPhone… and yet it’s marketshare is .53% of the overall Internet viewership.  

And this does not mean that I think that Androids a better OS – it’s not.  It’s that the uses of the iPhone, Android, etc., are not the uses that people are actually using.  The next jumps in technology in the mobile space will not be phones.  Phones have been done.  Phones are going to merge with something else because phones are a communications system.

I’ve said for decades now the big jump there (communications) is going to be computer telepathy.  Yeah, yeah, that’s sci-fi – it’s too weird and it’s decades out…. I know.  That’s the point.  You want to be cutting edge – bleeding edge – you go decades out and work back.  You don’t go 3-4 years back and work forward.  Android, Apple, all of these are as much stuck in their platforms as Windows is to the desktop.

Windows – is moving out of the desktop.  Surface and other cool technologies are moving it out of there and into the 2.5 and 3D spaces – ala Minority Report.  Eventually I would not be surprised if we see them move to mindspaces of communication.  If they don’t – they should. That’s bleeding edge.

The iPhone – moved to the iPad.  That wasn’t a jump forward, at best it was a jump sideways and back.  We’ve been to the eBook and the tablet space.  Yeah they’re doing some nice stuff there.  But there’s a reason they didn’t sell before and it wasn’t aesthetics, it was ergonomics and practicality and functionality.  iPad’s closer to what I would have liked for that kind of thing… in fact I’m a huge fan of the design of the iPad. 

But the iPad space… isn’t new ground.  It’s not even taking old ground to new heights.  It’s just taking it to new places.  For me – that’s not enough.  I’m also guessing that for a lot of people it won’t be either.  Don’t get me wrong we’re going to see about 11,000 iPad copiers out there and it’s going to be a huge market.  But it’s not ever going to bust into that 92% marketshare a whole lot.  Why not?  Because – if it was going to – it already would have.  Sure it’s going to dent it.  But not by a whole lot, and certainly not enough for me to justify a lot of time thinking about it.

I’m still thinking about quantum systems and mindspace systems because that’s where I want to go.  Where people will eventually have to go.  And at the end of the day… y’know what… they’ll still be using that desktop I’ll predict right now.  Eventually it will go away.  Something will replace it.  But the reign of this dinosaur is still many years from being over.

On my drive to work the other day, they had a talk radio show on technology talking about the new 3D TVs out there.  How the cost on them was pretty low.  One caller pointed out he got a 58 inch screen, blu-ray player, and 2 dinoridesets of 3D glasses all for under $3,000.  Which – is pretty impressive.  Then someone asked him, “So what movies are available?” and he said, “uh… so far all I’ve found is one.”.  <insert crickets chirping sound here>

Bleeding edge is cool.  Designing for it is really cool and I love to do that.  It’s dreamer design work and incredibly rewarding.  But designing something that isn’t used steals from that reward.  I want people to see what I’ve done  – comment – criticize – help improve it – give it life.  That’s bleeding edge. 

So… for now.  I’ll stick with making my dinosaur out live it’s usefulness and find new ways for people to ride it.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Design, Development, Rants


One response to “Why I only create things for …

  1. Craig Wierenga

    May 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Nice — couldn’t agree more.


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