Complexity Not Welcome ...

A recent msnbc article featured 8 gadgets that will be huge in 2010. The last gadget in the list: The iPhone 4G. No, you have not missed a new iPhone. This is one of many tech rumors that continues to circulate. It's not going to go away until the new device is launched. Among the 'updates' rumored for this new device: a removable battery, video chat support, and so forth. Now, before you get all excited about a long list of features, read this New York Times article about Steve Jobs and Apple.  One of the more interesting comments:

At Apple, there is a similar link between the ultimate design-team leader, Mr. Jobs, and the products. From computers to smartphones, Apple products are known for being stylish, powerful and pleasing to use. They are edited products that cut through complexity, by consciously leaving things out — not cramming every feature that came into an engineer’s head, an affliction known as “featuritis” that burdens so many technology products.

“A defining quality of Apple has been design restraint,” says Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster and consultant in Silicon Valley.

If you think Apple is about to get caught up in a 'feature' battle with Google, think again. I am certain that there will be new features in the next iPhone, but I don't expect a lot of complexity. Expect simplicity, elegance, and consistency. I am sure this is why the iPhone does not support mult-tasking - it add complexity and instability. It also requires a lot of processor power.

Another example: Flash. Apple is taking a lot of flack for not including Flash in the new iPad. Why wouldn't they include Flash? A recent report quoted Jobs as saying:

About Adobe: They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.

One more quote about Mr. Jobs design philosophy:

Great products, according to Mr. Jobs, are triumphs of “taste.” And taste, he explains, is a byproduct of study, observation and being steeped in the culture of the past and present, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then bring those things into what you are doing.

Sometime we design in a box ... we don't look outside the industry in which we live and work. Regardless of what you do for a living, you can bring 'the best things' to your work. There is something to be said for the Apple 'auteur model of innovation'. No, it is not perfect, but there is something we can all learn from it.