Human-Computer Interaction: Communication, Cooperation, and Application Design

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

of solving their problems. One reason for this complexity is the fact that the PC is a multipurpose device which cannot offer optimal interfaces for each of the applications running on it. Moreover, the current business model of the PC industry is based on growing complexity of applications and devices. Every year applications with more functionality require more computing power on faster processors -- but the usefulness of this added functionality is more than questionable for most users. They cannot deal with the complexity of the user interface even if they have a valid need for using their PC ( Norman 1998)

Therefore the market potential of PC-based devices is restricted to people who can deal with the technological complexity of a computer in spite of growing consumer interest in less complex devices: As an example, approximately. 6.5 million users of AOL never use their PC except for AOL access! They have never written a Word document or created an Excel sheet. The average consumer can't cope with the complexity of the PC working environment.


Table 1: A comparison of the market for information processing and communication devices.
Market Information Market Communication Mar-
ket
Market saturation Rapid grow towards satu-
ration
Saturated market
Market size Small market Large market
Market basis Infrastructure dominated Infrastructure is pre-
requisite
Product UI Devices with poor usabil-
ity
Usability is one of the
main buying criteria
Product maturity Products under develop-
ment
Mature products
Product complexity Extremely complex de-
vices
Low complexity de-
vices
Product orientation Multipurpose devices Dedicated devices
(uni-purpose)
Market focus Technology-centered
products
Task/User-centered
products

In the market of communication devices we see the opposite extreme: the devices are extremely simple to use, there is no complexity in the interface, the technology is hidden behind the outlet in the house. Almost everyone knows how to use a telephone, and the number of communication devices exceeds the number of personal computers by far. Users of a telephone don't have to cope with the infrastructure of communication, while PC users still have to consider infrastructural shortcomings of the PC. If customers buy a telephone they expect it to work immediately without setup or the installation of an operating system.

-15-

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