My iPhone Epiphany: Why “Perfect” is the Enemy of “Good Enough”


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Most would argue that the iPhone is the best smartphone out on the market today. I have disagreed in the past, however, my perspective recently changed…

I have loved the iPhone since it first came out, but have been bothered by its lack of “advanced features”. You know the list of complaints. No copy and paste (until recently). No multitasking (still). No MMS. Multitasking specifically is a big gap in the iPhone’s capabilities in my mind.

But that all seems moot to me now.

You see, I was on a trip overseas to visit my wife’s family. Her sister wanted to get an iPhone, mainly due to the buzz about it. She had never owned anything other than a feature phone, and even those were very light on features. Watching her interact with the iPhone for the first few days really changed my perception of why the iPhone’s “simplistic” interface is one of its greatest strengths.

Explaining how to do things iPhone users take for granted, such as tapping on a number to dial it, really put it all in perspective for me. Having been a smartphone user for years before the iPhone came out, the UI was a logical progression to me. Not so for someone unfamiliar with such interfaces.

The iPhone she is using was unlocked and jailbroken, and had a lot of custom software installed on it. Several add-ons slowed down the phone, and detracted from the user experience. We uninstalled most of that and the phone became more usable for her.

But then came the thing that it really hit me- a series of “NOTS”… Not having to explain how to kill background programs. Not having to explain using the “Back” button to close out of windows of a running application.

Having the most difficult interaction be double-clicking the Home button to pause music was a refreshing change from all I have encountered over the years.

You see, I had always taken multitasking for granted as a must-have feature. And maybe it is for me. But for the vast majority of users, they honestly could care less. As long as applications save the state they were in before exiting (much like the old Palm OS apps), users get an expected experience and are more than happy.

Many of the limitations of the iPhone OS have been fixed as newer iterations have been released, mainly in the 3.0 version. Copy/Paste? Check. MMS? Check. Tethering? Check (Except in the US). The iPhone has most of the bases covered out of the box. It also has the secret weapon of simplicity. The fact that users don’t have to think about how to use the iPhone, that it simply works as they expect it to, is, perhaps its greatest strength.

Wanting everything in a single device/phone sounds like smartphone nirvana but maybe “good enough” really is better than “perfect”. Just as Dan mentioned when Larry was able to snap a picture of a barn fire he was fighting, the best camera is one you have with you. It’s all about convenience and user experience, and that’s where the iPhone shines.

Now, Apple, let’s work on a user-replaceable battery on the hardware side of things…

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