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Articles: Our Apple Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Thinking Like the Intelligentsia and Love the iPad

The idea for this article germinated as I once again struggled with our relatively new phone system. I say relatively new, because although we’ve had it in place for close to a year, I still have no real idea how to use it.

In fact, I would guess that most of our employees understand about 5% of the capabilities of the things. The phones feature LCD screens with menu options to infinity and beyond, and are graced with rows and rows of buttons, most of which remain unlabeled. And yet all the enticing features they offer to those willing to get a diploma in Business Phone 101 mostly go to waste because 95% of the time all we want to do is answer the damn phone.

If Apple were to get into the business-phone business they’d clean up.

The Apple iPad for sale.Can you imagine an iPad or iPhone-esque phone where you could actually know what it is you had to do because it would sit there, with its glorious, easy-to-use graphics, just begging you to touch it?

Has anyone ever really loved his or her business phone? Not that I’ve ever heard. But people absolutely adore their iPhones and iPads. Why can’t someone do that with business phones?

I call those who thrive on technological complication, the ones who are always demanding more features, often decrying ease of use icons and menu-driven interfaces because it slows them down, the “Intelligentsia.”

This class of people often work in IT, or are just real computer geeks who live, eat, breathe and often write about this stuff. They have a lot of influence and voice when it comes to technological innovations and products. They’re smart, they’re passionate, they’re opinionated… but they often work on such a different plane than “the rest of us” that they don’t always understand what all the fuss about iPhones and iPads is all about.

Apple, in producing these products for the rest of us, often ignores those people ...

... which sometimes subjects them to derision (“you mean the iPad doesn’t have a phone, camera or Intel processor in it? Pshaw! It’s a toy!”). I say, keep ignoring them Apple. It’s the reason all the iPad’s predecessors basically failed, because they were trying to be what the Intelligentsia was demanding they be.

The reason the Mac, then the iPod, then the iPhone, and then the iPad simply work, rock, and sell like hotcakes, making Apple the largest technology company in the world, is because Apple focuses on user experience. It’s as if they identify the top 90% of uses for a particular category, make easy-to-use controls for those activities, and ignore the rest.

The result? The Intelligentsia complains about that last 10% ...

... while the rest of us buy the products because they actually work, they’re easy to use, and they quickly do almost all of what we need them to do because most of us don’t care much about that last 10%.

So while I think I can probably route a call on my business phone to the moon while faxing virtual documents using Pentagon-level encryption and at the same time conference-call half of Europe, all with the push of about eighteen menu options in perfect order, all I really want to do is listen to my voice mail or transfer a call. But I can’t easily do those easy things because they had to build in all that other crap we don’t use.

One day, maybe some other company will make a business phone that’s actually as easy to use as an iPad, but I kinda doubt it will be soon, because there still seems to be very few companies who “get it” like Apple does, despite Apple’s success.
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