Another example of the death of bling. Damon Darlin, who seems to have taken over the Ping column in the New York Times (formerly written by my friend), notes a growing preference for simplicity in consumer electronics: over the last year, most consumers "chose to buy two inexpensive and simple
products, the Wii and the Flip, over competing gadgets bristling with
more features…. It is not just the economics of a shopping-fatigued nation at work
here. Consumers found the simple devices, which don’t need instruction
manuals to set up and use, more appealing."
"This shift in consumer preference to the cheaper electronic device could well be a reaction to the recession," he suggests, another datapoint in the growing trend "to have our wits about us" at all times, and not be dulled by either booze or blinky lights. The downside in this trend– if you can call it a downside– is that
most companies don't really know how to make things simpler: as lots of good product designers will tell you, it's a lot easier to pack new features into something than to strip them out.
It takes a lot of careful thought to eliminate things, to think hard about what really matters and focus only on those things, and still end up with something that's balanced and usable. (This is as true for a life as it is for a digital camera, now that I think about it.) It's easier, and in some ways more pleasant, to be diverted by plentitude and activity, than to make difficult choices that can pay off in the long run.