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The Design Revolution in Consumer Tech - WSJ
By Steve Vassallo
Aug. 6, 2017

Walt Mossberg...began his first column for the Journal, in 1991, with the now-famous line, “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn’t your fault.” In his final column, Mr. Mossberg bookends the quarter-century of products, personalities and progress he’s chronicled with this assessment of where we are now: “Personal technology is usually pretty easy to use, and, if it’s not, it’s not your fault.” In a generation, consumer tech went from unreliable and confusing to so intuitive that children are creating immersive three-dimensional worlds on devices with barely any instruction. Mr. Mossberg doesn’t put a name to this remarkable shift, but as someone who witnessed it firsthand, I will: design. By design, I don’t mean a spiffy logo or a pretty website. Design now also refers to a methodology and a mind-set that place the experience of the end user above all. This form of design isn’t concerned chiefly with how good something looks, but, rather, how well it works for ordinary consumers. In the [early] ’90s....“engineers weren’t designing products for normal people.” ......Engineers tend to focus on sheer technical limits: what can be done. But designers are preoccupied with what should be done. In other words, whether they’re building things that solve actual problems or fulfill real wants....Over the past two decades, advances in computing power have met typical users’ speed and reliability needs, and the means to launch products have grown better and more affordable. As a result, design is now the differentiator—and the driving force behind billion-dollar companies....Apple's products (e.g. iPod, iPhone), weren’t technical breakthroughs.....They were design breakthroughs—instances of creative need-finding and human-attuned problem solving. And they raised consumer expectations for technology, ushering in a new era of innovation....Google has invested heavily to reinvent itself as a design-centric business. Incumbents like Samsung , General Electric and IBM have spent hundreds of millions to build in-house design studios with thousands of designers. ...Slack and Airbnb—like Pinterest, Instagram and Kickstarter—are recent successes founded by designers, people who are devoted to the practice of building impeccably considerate technology. Design is the key to building the next great wave of companies. To compete seriously on design, startups must make it central to their strategy from the beginning......we’re entering the age of “ambient computing,” when personal technology will become invisible and omnipresent. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, the Internet of Things, and other nascent tech will fade into the background of our lives. Technology will no longer come in the form of gadgets. Instead, as Mr. Mossberg predicts, “it’ll be about actual experiences, with much less emphasis on the way those experiences get made.”....The 21st century will be the century of the designer founder, when core value for businesses is created by entrepreneurs who have a deeper, more intuitive sense for the human condition.
Walter_Mossberg  retirement  design  design_thinking  technology  IDEO  '90s  UX  Apple  ambient_computing  customer_expectations  uncharted_problems  pervasive_computing  the_human_condition  augmented_reality  core_values  unarticulated_desires  farewells 
august 2017 by jerryking
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