Less is more

I've heard this a few times:
I would buy [iPhone or iPad] if it wasn't so closed.

What difference does it make to you in actual day-to-day use? Or is it a philosophical choice? There's nothing wrong with the latter, I must emphasize, but there is something wrong in the posit that openness is intrinsically better.

It's not. And no one cares. That is to say, users by and large don't care—they want the device to work without opening the hood and as such openness isn't a deciding factor.

Depending on how it's done, things are better inside the walled garden. That's the key word: depending. Apple is doing it right.

This is from a blog I stumbled across:
Many companies are now planning to compete in the tablet space currently solely occupied by the iPad. They're planning to beat Apple by one-upping them, by adding features the iPad currently lacks, by being more "open" and more flexible. The problem is that no one is asking for this, no potential customers really care about "openness" or external USB ports on a tablet. People want things to work, work well, work quickly, and do the things they want it to do. Does the iPad do that? Yes. Is it fast, or more simply, fast enough? Yes. Does it have thousands of good apps available to download? Yes, and more are coming every day. Where are the gaps that a competitor hopes to fill? iPad customer satisfaction is at 91%. If a competitor wants to take down the iPad they have to beat 91%.

A good point. The full blog entry is here.

A corollary to the openness issue is that of user choice. We can see it play out even on the app level, particularly in the example of Twitterific, which I used for a long time (long in app years anyway).

Regarding user choice, another post from the aforementioned blog posits that developers should not include a metric ton of preferences with their apps and instead present a vision of what the best choices are and prevent them from being cocked up by prefs.

The visual example he gives of the difference between two versions of Twitteriffic is a fantastic illustration of this (before on left, after on right):



I can see his argument and agree. When I was discussing my e-reader reviews for the iPad and was discussing it with my wife and extolling the virtue of BNE's ability to let you have any sort of theme you want, with micro-control of the colors used for individual elements, my wife instantly shot back:
But I don't want to manage all that. I just want to sit down and read.

Me too, actually, now that you say it out loud like that. Whatever additional options you include is more things you have to manage. That's more burden on you, the user. But I included this as a feature because even though I wouldn't use that feature myself, surely lots of other people would?

Actually, maybe not.

Maybe not at all....