We may be in the golden age of smart phones right now. Multi-core processors and high resolution screens abound. Silly debates are now settled by asking Siri or Google Voice Search. Once satisfied with basic portals to the web, we now demand these devices to be personal assistants. This is utility that we could’ve only imagined a few years ago.
What about design? Have our smartphones, with all of their power, become boring slabs of metal and plastic ? We enjoy individuality as human beings. People wear designer handbags and jackets. Others landscape their properties or paint their interiors in wild colors. Why don’t we demand more from phone manufacturers?
If you recall the evolution of cell phones, you’ll remember a variety of shapes and colors in the early 2000’s. The prerequisites seemed to be a camera and a color screen. Manufacturers were to come up with the rest. If you walked through your local mall you’d see a rainbow of cellular devices.
Today we expect to have the biggest screen or processor. As a result, our smartphones follow the same design philosophy as a result. Is that a cop out? What if we demanded the same utility from our phones, but were allowed more customization. Google could me allow me to change the colors of the navigation buttons or keyboard. Apple could make it an option for people to color their iPhone anything they want for an extra free. The problem is that cell phone manufacturers are somewhat stubborn with design. They believe any variation would interfere with their design philosophies. I think this is a mistake. Car manufacturers also have strict design philosophies, but they offer a variety of colors. This is appropriate for a diverse market. Some high end manufacturers even give you a choice of whatever color you want (for a price), no matter how cringe-worthy the choice is.
Remember white iPhone hysteria? Those who wanted a white iPhone were mocked for going crazy over a different color. It wasn’t just the color of the phone, but another way to express oneself. Another way to stand out. I believe droves of people would buy into phone customization programs. In 2007, it was cool to have an iPhone just as it was cool to have a Moto Droid in 2009. Today, everyone has a cool phone. No matter what the commercials tell you, they all look the same. Let’s demand more from device manufacturers and create a more interesting market.