Why aren’t mobile phones easy to use?

When you read David Weinberger complain about his phone’s UI (when he’s really talking about easy recording of personalized ringtones), I’m sure you all have similar tales to tell.

Can you remember pitying your mum when she wasn’t able to program the VCR? The modern analogy is she can’t place a call on her new mobile phone.

But why does it have to be this way? If you don’t know how to handle something as simple as a VCR or a cellphone, it’s not your fault for not “reading the f**** manual”, it’s the manufacturer’s fault for not making it user friendly enough.

Mobile phones are prime examples for UI madness – here’s cluetrain for mobile phone manufacturers and operators:

  • Just look at Nokia’s ‘innovative’ keyboard designs. What are you guys smoking?
  • Why do I have to know what an APN or an IP address is to configure WAP? Why are you throwing this at tens of millions of customers, of which maybe 5 know what this is for?
  • Why do I have to wiggle with different GPRS settings for WAP, Internet, Java and MMS? Just so can have your walled garden and rip off consumers?
  • You’re billing my data use in kilobytes. Actually I forgot about kilobytes in the 80s, I’m used to gigabytes now. You want me to count? Please… 99% of your customer have no idea what a “byte” is!
  • Regarding a comment in David’s post: Why is it so hard to default to stuff people can understand? My wife’s reaction to the sound of my phone ringing was “what’s this” instead of “your phone’s ringing”. Hellooo!
  • What’s so hard about clearly marked red and green buttons to end and make calls?

I could go on like this for hours, but I guess you get my point.

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