There’s an awful lot of your article that seems to encourage the throwing up of hands and saying “well we just don’t know what people want, leave it to the experts”. Don’t you think that a large company like Microsoft paid good money to usability experts to design the interface for Windows Mobile? Are we somehow not in a position to criticise it because we’re not in the mythical target market? Can the emperor’s lack of clothes only be pointed out by other emperor’s because the children “just don’t get it”?
If you work in any kind of technology field you know that 90% of people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. You try and explain how useful something like Sat Nav or a PVR can be, and it’s only when they actually use it that the possibilities become real to them. Sometimes it helps if people who actually understand the benefits of the technology are helping to push it, rather than just leaving it to the “normobs” (a horrible word).
“Apple – bless ‘em – started from an installed iPhone base of zero. Now, every time they make a change to their service offering they have to get it working across 3 devices and millions of customers. And, boy, do those customers howl when anything goes wrong.” – That’s the same philosophy they’ve applied to Mac’s and iPod’s and it still seems to be working out fine for them, mostly because people are a lot more tolerant of change when it looks like the change has been made with some kind of purpose rather than just dreamt up by a disinterested committee.