MOTOROLA BAM! BAM! (Android, Nokia, RIM) No Jacket Required? (Apple, ModuMobile) The Personalized Jacket!
Users love their iPhone Accessories! Is Motorola strategy right to go negative? ( Recent blast by Motorola on NO Jacket Required!)
When iPhone4 launched, I could not stop thinking how much this design aligned to the thinking of a small device that could be mass-configured with changeable covers. In many ways it is what Modu wants to become! As I was a lead architect back in the 90′s when Nokia had the mass personalization effort around changeable covers, we debated as to what would hold true in the future of personalization. The mobile world has come a long way since the 90′s, but if you have a chance to watch Frank Nuovo on Charlie Rose in 2000, you will see clearly that Nokia had painted a very good picture of what was to come in the future on personalized experiences. Frank was a thought leader 10 years early…
What I beleive has happened is that we have evolved this unique opportunity of two different types of devices. Of course there is the personalization of the services and the overall internet, but I am referring to the Hardware aspects of personalization. Mixing hardware with Fashion.
1) Devices that have hardware that is designed with fashion in mind that target a certain demographic. Multiple colors of the device, target look-n-feel to meet a certain market segment. ( Mainly this has been the latest thinking of Android HW manufacturers, RIM, NOKIA, Microsoft)
2) Devices that are skinned down simple designed basics that then offer a chance for mass-customization via personalized accessories ( APPLE, MODU)
While Google Android, Nokia and RIM have gone down type 1), Have a look at the recent announcement of Motorola with Android blasting Apple because they have a cover and used the Antenna issue as a way to market their products. In many ways, I beleive this is unique approach as blasting them based on a feature, but why kill the Jacket? As well, Nokia has recently abandoned the concept of simplicity with changeble covers ( Even though they invented it) to build full design elements to target certain demographics. Then look at Microsofts KIN. They build hardware to target a certain demo ( young students) and we saw where that went…
On the other hand we have two unique companies, Apple and Modu. That are building out a strategy of a simple elegant product that is small and that is a starting block for massive personalization. Yes, users can have the product on its own as it stands alone in its beauty, but how it fits into the accessory ecosystem is a key part of the overall product strategy.
I was sitting in a cafe recently and across the table from me was a police officer from the NYPD. He was playing with his iPhone while waiting for his lunch to be served. The beauty of all of this was that he had a very unique leather, urban with rubber jacket on his device! It matched his personal style and his needs. iPhone’s basic design can reach everybody and then they have the ability to not only personalize the overall look, while still keeping the product small, but the user can as well customize the screen. We will see Jackets of all kinds…. Metallica Jackets, New York Yankee Jackets…. Ferrari Jackets, as well as Company Jackets…. so what is wrong with the Jacket?
Even though Apple designed a product that was as small, simple and clean as they could go, with a fundamental beyond-physics strategy of embedding an antenna into the body of the product ( nobody had ever succeeded with this really in the history of mobility) they were bound to take criticism and it was a risk! But in my mind a very amazing risk in that having this kind of simple product as a base to a variety of other accessories and architectures is an avenue to hardware personalization as a means of fashion. They pushed the envelop to get the size as small as it could go with such a large screen and keeping the product very thin. Having the antenna in the body was a very difficult and yet impossible challenge, but it was a method for getting the smallest product possible potentially.
I personally think the view of personalization and small framed designed products with ability to add accessories is a key driver to real Fashion statements, mass-customization and mass end-user adoption. The very simple strategy like in the case of Apple that can scale to build its business for starters, is key as part of this thinking. I think bringing the Press over the Jacket was potentially the wrong thing to do in the long-term…. Apple should highlight more about the opportunities for customization over the fact they pushed the envelop a bit too far with Antenna design.
So where is MODU in all of this? I would image these Israeli’s are in the labs looking at the smallest iPhone killer Android device that could be configured or skinned with multiple accessories. They have done done the small match-box route…. why not the Android with a large screen thin route like Apple? This would be a very interesting competitor of Apple!
Frank Nuovo, ex-Chief of Nokia Design, talks about mobile devices as “Objects of Desire” and he personally moved down the Fashion route with his move to run design over at Vertu. In my mind, this architecture of design personalization and mobile has really taken form and that these simple products with less buttons and objects of design can now grow toward multimedia rich and configurable products along with the hardware configurations. Apple is clearly on the right path as a vision, lets see if this media and the antenna challenge is not big enough for them to get pulled off this strategic path?