When the iPhone finally emerged there was much gnashing of teeth and hyperbolic ramblings about how it didn't have the fastest cellular interface, was tied to Cingular's lowly network, didn't feature any really 'new' technology and was overpriced.
I have a somewhat different perspective, and for once find myself on the side of the consumer-oriented media outlets which focused on one key aspect: its usability. For once, I can't wait to get my hands on a cellphone. It's clear that Apple spent many hours devising the user interface, an aspect of consumer design that has so often been pushed aside in favor of faster, smaller, slimmer and yet one more layer of software-enabled functionality.
It's not that the advances aren't exciting. They are. What's been bothering me is that maybe designers are focusing on the wrong bottleneck. It's not the relatively slow data rates of GPRS vs. EDGE vs. HSDPA and beyond. It's all about how designers and their designs allow users to better interact with data. That's the key. The man-machine-interface. The connection between our neuronal intent and the electronic medium. That's where the true next-generation innovations reside.
It's innovations in that area that I'll be looking for next week at 3GSM. Apple has made progress, but the combination of psychological analysis of our innate data-processing strategies and the increasing processing capability of mobile devices is critical. Developing the software and the interfaces to take advantage of that confluence is where the action is going to be.
As I prepare for 3GSM in Barcelona next week, I'll be on the lookout for such symbiotic advances. I'll also be watching for GPS advances, greater functional integration and better power management capabilities. Also, I'll be casting a cold eye on WiMAX. It's time for the truth on this much-hyped technology. See you there.