Build it bigger and they will come. This is how you could once reliably design and market devices. Roll out a bigger and better version of the previous model and customers will flock to it. You still had to deliver good devices. A bad experience could still alienate customers and damage your brand. But bigger remained better until users took real ownership of these devices. That day has definitely arrived.
Five years ago, if you had anything less than a 15 inch laptop screen, you were an exception. Today the smaller 13 inch form factor is very popular. Our habits have changed as we became more comfortable with what we want from our devices. Today’s users are savvy and devices hold a deeper sense of purpose. Bigger is no longer better, because we are smarter.
This trend has put pressure on PC suppliers. We know what we want for our laptops and we look for the best balance in power, performance and size to match it. Instead of reactively upgrading to the next big thing, now the desire is for ‘just right’. At Dell we talk about “design that delights”. To be delighted is more than just satisfaction. It’s when an itch is scratched just as needed. It’s just right.
Manufacturers had to learn this quickly through trial and error. For example, the tablet is not nearly as appealing as was once hoped. As users became acquainted with what devices can offer, they simply ignored form factors that were limiting and looked for those devices that truly expanded their horizons.
The 2-in-1 or convertible is proof. This form factor is not new and has been commercially available since the early 2000s. Yet with new user interfaces (touch, stylus, voice) and new software to take advantage of these, the form factor has come of age. Growth in convertibles and detachables are evidence of this. New product design goals were established, such as being thinner and more power efficient. These created design challenges that couldn’t be solved by adopting a #me too approach. They have to delight.
So we developed InfinityEdge displays for our devices, which remove the bezel around the screen. To do so meant moving the wifi antenna to a different part of the machine. It was no small deal to accomplish, but getting something ‘just right’ is not easy. It starts by acknowledging the user is now firmly in charge and knows what they want. The winners are the companies which don’t just cater, but innovate.
The journey continues. We live in a world where one can switch between Android, iOS and Windows at a moment’s notice. We want consistent experiences across these and it’s the device manufacturers who must deliver. At CES this year, Dell launched Mobile Connect, a software application that lets users interact with their phones through their PC, and Dell CinemaStream, which dramatically improves the performance of streaming media.
This is design that delights. It’s another way to bridge user experiences without dictating the terms. Bigger is no longer better. The future of devices is “just right”.