Over the years, how vendors build a high tech product has changed. In the early days (the 60s, 70s, and 80s), their strategy was, “Users will take what we give ‘em.” If you didn’t like the 80 columns and 24 rows of your green screen terminal — tough. You were lucky to even have a terminal, so you didn’t complain. Today, however, that’s changed. Broadband is ubiquitous, PCs are relatively inexpensive, and people carry multiple devices around (laptops, tablets, and smartphones). In short, utility is assumed. People now view high tech gear as a fashion accessory that offers visceral delight. It’s not enough to have a cellphone; it needs to be an iPhone 4S or whatever the latest trend is at the moment.
The company that figured this out early is Apple. Rather than piling on yet another feature, Apple reimagined a portable music player, and a smartphone, and a tablet – and made them stylish at the same time. The iPad 3 is a perfect example of this strategy. Its major feature is an extremely high resolution screen. The screen of the iPad 2 was perfectly functional; however, the screen of the iPad 3 absolutely pops, and it’s a joy to behold.
The company that was late to this “visceral delight” realization was Microsoft. Office 2010 was a perfect example of, “How do we cram more features into Office 2007 and give it a new name?” Rather than reimagining the productivity suite, Microsoft just piled on more features.
However, with the announcement of the Surface tablet, that old style view may be changing. Microsoft clearly decided it was time to sit down and reimagine how Windows 8 and tablets could work together – all in a sleek package. With the announcement of Office 15 imminent, it will be interesting to see whether Office 15 continues the Surface trend or rebuts it. Put another way, it will be interesting to see whether Office 15 is “Office Reimagined” – or “Office with More Features.”