Nexus One: I’ve had one for a couple weeks

I can finally announce it publicly: I’ve had a Nexus One for the past couple weeks. While I played with it a bit, I never used it extensively, as I didn’t want to put my iPhone’s SIM card in it, and I didn’t have any other SIM cards lying around.

The Nexus One is a perfectly solid offering in this touchscreen-smartphone space. Its interaction and interface design are quite good. I love the Maps app, which essentially can operate just like an in-car turn-by-turn GPS navigation device, with the added benefit of Google Street View, so you can be quite positive your turning at the right spot.

I’m very interested in leaving Apple and AT&T, and the Nexus One could very much be that new phone for me. I am not really reliant on any non-standard iPhone apps, so the transition shouldn’t be too hard. But, at this point, I’m not ready to make the change, for two primary reasons:

  1. Podcasts. The thing I do most with my iPhone is listen to podcasts. And I’ve become quite reliant on the “2x” playback feature of podcasts. Google’s Listen app does not offer double-speed playback. I suppose I could turn my iPhone into an iPod touch and use the Nexus One for other things, but having two glass bricks on me at all times seems unnecessary.
  2. Desktop software configuration. Or rather, the lack of it. With Nexus One, you have to do all your configuration on the phone, or within various Google Apps. There is no iTunes equivalent for the Nexus One. I believe this is a huge mistake. Anyone owning a Nexus One is likely to own a computer with a USB port. Why not let me use my computer, with it’s bigger screen, easier text entry, etc, etc, to configure my Nexus One? I’ve said it many times – iTunes was the secret of iPod’s success, and is quite significant in iPhone’s success. Having to do everything on the Nexus One’s screen is a pain and it kind of angers me that Google hasn’t seen fit to release software to make the configuration easier. (If you’re not beholden to Apple/iTunes the way I am, this might not be an issue. Or, if you’re an extensive Google tool user (Gmail. Google Calendar, etc.), it might not end up mattering to you, as you can get all that information onto the Nexus One pretty easily.)

All that said, if I could get a $60/mo plan on T-Mobile for the NexusOne (which is what I currently play AT&T, as I’m grandfathered in with my first-gen iPhone), I would have to seriously consider the switch. However, it looks like the minimum price of the necessary T-Mobile plan is $80/mo, which is kind of a non-starter for me. I would even consider $70/mo with unlimited SMS and data.

I am happy that there is now a legitimate competitor to iPhone/AT&T, and one that is not beholden to a particular carrier. I hope this finally leads to some competition in the pricing of service plans.

Experience (and services and systems), not products (What I would tell interaction design students, #1 in a series)

I had originally planned to speak in SVA’s Interaction Design lecture series today, but had to cancel because I’m needed in the SF Bay Area. So, I thought I might blog the things I would have said

This is a subject I’ve talked about at length before, perhaps most notably in the essay, “Experience IS the Product… and the only thing users care about”, the slidecast “Experience is the Product”, and it was a main theme in Adaptive Path’s book Subject to Change. So I won’t go into in detail again, but it’s worth acknowledging that most people still approach product development very much from a features-and-functionality standpoint, and most design work gets so focused on the specific outcome that the designers lose sight of the ecosystem in which their work must fit.

In this increasingly complex world, product design is really systems design. A number of elements must be marshaled and coordinated. But it doesn’t make sense to design a system for the sake of it.

So, a system to what end?

I would argue, a system to support great experiences for people. And from figuring out how to support the delivery of great experiences, then design the interactions, identify the touchpoints, and build the systems that support that.

“Service Design” / “Customer Experience Design”

In a recent post to Creativity Online, Jen Bove (who is a friend of mine) posits: “Service design, while often talked about in academia, is getting more and more attention from design companies and service providers, as the impact of experience design has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and brand perception.”

And while I agree that the practice of service design is ascending (slowly), I’m dubious that the term “service design” is getting more and more attention, at least in the United States. In my recent trip to London, I visited with Chris Downs, one of the founders of Live|Work, the UK’s premier service design consultancy. In our conversation, we reached a supposition that the term “service design” has succeeded in the UK and Europe because there have been government-sponsored public sector service design projects which have demonstrated its value.

In the US, our public sector is notoriously bad at supporting good design, so there’s been no public discussion of service design. In another conversation I had with Don Norman (who is currently obsessed with service design), he felt that the term would remain an academic one.

For my blog posts at, I’m talking almost exclusively about service design, but I’ve never used that phrase. Instead, I use “customer experience”, the phrase that’s received traction in the US, and it’s variants “customer experience design” or just “experience design.”

Lessons from Target’s ClearRx

Among the staples of my presentation about customer experience is Target’s ClearRx pharmacy system. It’s a great story of design making a difference. What’s more fascinating to me, though, is how such good design made it out into the world. Through reviewing explanations and interviews online, I pieced together some lessons of why it worked so well. I wrote about it for the blog.