New Apple Product Ideas: iPod and iPhone Use Cases
So, what could make some of best designed, most beautiful electronics products on the market even better? Apple's products have outsold the biggest, most powerful brands on the market because they solve specific problems for specific people. They aren't created because the technology is available, but because the technology is useful. Apple products are built by product marketers that understand that people want to accomplish things, not just have technology for technologies sake. Steve Jobs is indeed a master at this, and although he needs a serious wardrobe update, the products speak for themselves.
How could we make a 'perfect' product better? In proper product management, style, I've evaluated very specific personas and use cases, I've found a few product improvements that will increase usability and revenue opportunities for Apple through additional user segmentation and competitive advantage.
After using an iPod Mini for running the past few weeks, its clear that the people at Apple want you to create a long playlist like a DJ and not have to touch your iPod at any tie during a run. This just isn't me - I like to listen to albums, and if an album ends, I need to select a new one quickly so I don't loose my momentum. Also, I don't wear a watch when running so having a timer / stopwatch available would be very helpful.
New product: iPod Sport
Horizontal Use. The iPod was designed vertically - which is perfect when you're holding it in front of you and looking at it, but horrible when its on your armband and looking at it sideways. It's impossible to see the screen because of the angle and the glare. So Apple, put the circular touchpad on a bezel. Enable the user to turn the bezel and touchpad 90 degree to either side of vertical to accommodate lefties and righties. When the bezel is turned, the orientation of the touchpad changes 90 degrees, and the screen orientation also changes 90 degrees. This would enable a user to use the iPod horizontally just as easily as vertically, and taking care of problem #1.
A Button. How about that, the introduction of a button to change modes. the iPod menu is very deep, and having to scroll up and back from a song to the main menu to check the clock or adjust the equalizer is a huge pain, especially when on the move. For this version of the iPod, include a single hard button to toggle functions / modes from music selection to stopwatch or clock. Enable the user to program the functions that the button cycles through. Put the button on the iPod edge, in the middle, so its easy to push, but recess it so its hard to push by accident.
The iPod Sport could lead a new category of iPod specifically designed for athletic activity and make the iPod line a must-have for all athletes (maybe introduce some new sporty colors, too). Would people pay a premium if it matched their needs better? Yes! Would existing iPod users upgrade? Yes! It could be the biggest 'single button' product improvement of all time.
I can't take all credit for this one, but at a party the other day my mates were discussing the pros and cons of the iPhone v. the new Blackberry Storm, as guys tend to do. The one feature that would make people use the iPhone more for business and emails actually appears on the Storm - the horizontal keyboard. Blackberry got this right from the beginning - the form factor for thumb typing. I will say that the iPhone isn't focused on email or SMS, its really focused on web browsing and graphics. Many function on the iPhone, however, were built to re-orient the screen vertically or horizontally depending on how the device is held, seeming except for typing. Typing with fingers v. thumbs is a BIG deal, and Apple didn't get the memo on this. So, enable emails to be crafted with the iPhone on its side, turn the keyboard, and let those thumbs go to town. Email volume will increase, SMS volumes will increase, use will increase and the competition will lose a very big advantage it has. Both business people and teens will find the typing much more efficient, opening up these market segments even more.
Great design can always be improved after analyzing use cases post-launch, and taking a look at specific personas and what specific problems they are trying to solve.