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Posted on May 3rd, 2012 by
There is talk of innovation everywhere. Governments and business are talking about ways to close the innovation gap, to stimulate the economy and growth through innovation. Within this talk there is a great deal of focus on development: developing new apps, developing new technologies, developing a culture of innovation. In short there is a lot of development, and to be clear, that is all very exciting and very important. However, what I think is lacking in much of this discussion is how the process of innovation can be stimulated by something much more fundamental: research. And to be specific, user research. At ADGi we believe that innovation is not just a culture, or a bit of technology, but a user-research-driven process.
Then along came Apple with their game-changing piece of unconventional wisdom: consumers want smartphones. Then they went ahead and drove the design and development through that lens and created a beautiful device with two killer consumer-focused apps: an awesome browser and an iPod. They also released the touch screen from the awkward stylus into an intuitive multi-touch, stylus-free interface. Yes, email, calendar and contacts were all there, but consumers finally had a device that did that business stuff AND that worked in a consumer setting as well. Suddenly the awesome power of the internet was really in your pocket along with your music. It was easy to use, and, in comparison, pretty damn sexy! It was everything a person (note not a 'business person' or 'consumer') wanted, all in one device.
(from: Apple-Zombie.com article with original CNET review of 1st Gen iPhone)
When I reflect on our experience in lab in that run-up period, the evidence was there in 2006. During the testing we were conducting, we interviewed dozens and dozens of people who told us that they carried two phones: a smartphone for business and a cheaper flip phone for personal use. The vast majority also carried an iPod around with them too. The problem was a) at the time we weren't looking for unconventional wisdom and b) the device people we were working with didn't believe it. When you consider the times and the incredible brand position the BlackBerry held, I am not surprised.