If you ever are feeling lonely, get a New York Times column, because you will get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails. And the email I’m getting a lot today is about frustration. People are feeling like things – Ok, I just had an alarm come up on my screen. Lucky you can’t see it. People are feeling overwhelmed. They’re feeling like it’s too much technology, too fast. It may be good technology, but I feel like there’s not enough of a support structure. There’s not enough help. There’s not enough thought put into the design of it to make it easy and enjoyable to use. One time I wrote a column about my efforts to reach Dell Technical Support, and within 12 hours, there were 700 messages from readers on the feedback boards on the Times website, from users saying, ““Me too, and here’s my tale of woe.” I call it “software rage.” And man, let me tell you, whoever figures out how to make money off of this frustration will – Oh, how did that get up there? Just kidding.
Here’s another pet one of mine: you have a printer. Most of the time, you want to print one copy of your document, in page order, on that printer. So why in God’s name do you see this every time you print? It’s like a 747 shuttle cockpit.
So Steve Jobs had always believed in simplicity and elegance and beauty. And the truth is, for years I was a little depressed, because Americans obviously did not value it, because the Mac had three percent market share, Windows had 95 percent market share – people did not think it was worth putting a price on it. So I was a little depressed. And then I heard Al Gore’s talk, and I realized I didn’t know the meaning of depressed.
But it turns out I was wrong, right? Because the iPod came out, and it violated every bit of common wisdom. Other products cost less; other products had more features, they had voice recorders and FM transmitters. The other products were backed by Microsoft, with an open standard, not Apple’s propriety standard. But the iPod won – this is the one they wanted. The lesson was: simplicity sells. And there are signs that the industry is getting the message.