I have always argued that Steve Jobs should never touch that iPod Scroll Wheel. Simple things should stay simple. But who am I to argue when he continues his fascinating ‘delete the button’ act with the new iPod Touch: essentially an iPod (and Wifi enabled Internet device, really) with just a touch-sensitive screen to control it?
It’s yet another compelling demonstration of the ongoing iPodification of computers: we start to get used to ‘non computer-like’ devices as the primary access channels to information, transactions and interactions. On one hand, these devices become smaller, flatter and simpler. And on the other hand, we may find ourselves sitting around it, running on it or hitting with it.
In either case, the applications and user interfaces we will build for these devices will need to be small and focussed. Quite the opposite of some of the swollen, megalomaniacal experiences we nowadays find on our desktop. I know many will be looking forward to that: we seem to be completely through with an overflow of options, menu’s, pop-up windows and scrollbars, even when they are designed as fancy 3D or semi-transparent widgets – and yes – even if they are disguised as a Rich Internet Application, built with one of the latest and trendy development tools.
What’s next with iPodification? Maybe Nothing. If we have a look into the TRIZ methodology – the true classic of systematic innovation – we learn through the Ideality principle that a product in its most advanced state ‘performs its function while it does not materially exist’. Sooner or later, when iPodified devices have become utterly small and extremely powerful, they may vanish, becoming one with their surroundings. Every now and then they may surface, when the network whispers something in our ear or when information is briefly displayed on a wall, table or shop window.
iPodification eventually leads to Nothing. Jobs may have a hard time surprising us by that time. But for sure, we won’t miss that scroll wheel.<br