Tag Archives: Flash

The Bigger Picture Of What Really Matters When It Comes To The Way We Use And Design Our Software And Hardware.

Now that the dust has settled on the iPad announcement — and the predictable, kabuki-light conflict has begun to play out between tech pundits who believe that Apple botched the iPad by leaving out a camera and Adobe Flash and traditional journalists who feel that the iPad emits rainbows and unicorns and will, incidentally, also save their industry…. Amid the din of all this senseless (seemingly ceaseless) chattering, I am starting to hear an interesting question emerge — one ultimately more important than “Will the iPad succeed or will it fail?”

That question is “What makes any piece of technology succeed or fail?”

What Is It?

I’m certainly not alone in thinking about the bigger picture of what really matters when it comes to the way we use and design our software and hardware.  Daniel Jalkut recently had an interesting post on his blog about the oft-predicted “death of the desktop” and I thought that John Gruber’s analogy comparing the emergence of iPad-like devices to the advent of the automatic transmission was very timely.  It’s truly one of those moments where there is something in the air — and we’re all standing around, trying to figure out what it was exactly that we just got a whiff of.

I find myself agreeing with those who suggest that, if designers focused less on making sure that everyone has exactly the same experience on every device and more on making sure that the right people have an incredible experience with their product, we’d all be better off.

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It’s a widget-player…and a clock radio…and a digital picture frame. But where is it going now?


Product designers and engineers everywhere are trying to re-envision how the commonplace things that we use everyday can be updated for a digitally-connected world. Alarm Clocks, Radios, Picture Frames, Coffee Makers — you name an existing small appliance — and somebody, somewhere is trying to stick a Wi-Fi card into it.

Chumby Industries has developed a gadget that does all of the above (except for making coffee, sadly) — the eponymously-named “Chumby” — and is also open source, allowing enthusiasts to customize its workings. And now, the company seems to be making a move to concentrate on the software side of things, licensing the platform to a wide variety of consumer electronics manufacturers.

Clearly, über-connected, totally-hackable devices like the Chumby are catnip to tech junkies like me…but will the technology “have legs” when rolled out to a mass market in items like digital picture frames and set top boxes for televisions?

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