In his latest post at AskTog.com, Bruce Tognazzini highlights the similarities between Steve Jobs's approach in bringing to market the original Macintosh, the iPhone, and now the iPad. For Tognazzini, known as "Tog" in computing circles, the success of these products is a byproduct of this approach. Like the original Mac, the original iPhone shipped with only a handful of apps. The iPhone also lacked common features on other smartphones, such as copy and paste, searching, MMS support, and contact search.
Also, like the original Mac, the iPhone was created by a very small group -- most of them young and driven -- who worked in an ultra secretive environment. The small team environment meant that some capabilities had to be left out of a first release in order to focus on the most important features. The tradeoff, however, produces a superior user experience instead of a "rambling labyrinth of disjointed features." The result was a core that could be built upon for years without the need to start from scratch.
While Tog doesn't mention it, this focused and "essential feature" mindset also serves a marketing function. It gets people talking. Think about how excited you were when an iPhone firmware upgrade presented you with something new, such as copy and paste. Remember, too, how much buzz this generated in the media and how Apple touted these features.
These highlights and more, including details on the decision to add arrow keys to the Mac, are detailed in Tog's post.
Bruce Tognazzini's knowledge of the Mac stems from his experience at Apple. During his 1978 to 1992 tenure at Apple as employee #66 (Steve Jobs is #0 and Steve Wozniak is #1), he founded the Apple Human Interface Group and acted as Apple's Human Interface Evangelist. He went on to work at Sun Microsystems, led the design of WebMD, and is currently a principal at the Nielsen Norman Group.