Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Design you product based on your believe and point of view

 This January, Ubuntu had just released their new OS, to everyone surprise, its not the new desktop operating system (that they usually released in April), but this time a smartphone OS. It is still based on Ubuntu core technology and design philosophy, but tweaked and redesign to fit smartphone screen and usage pattern.

And I like to mention again about the core technology. It is important for us to select (the right) and develop our core technology (especially if you are work or own a technology company). If you doing it right, you can expand your product portfolio easily, well at least, you already has all the need to create a new product based on it. This Ubuntu case is another perfect example of having the right core technology that can be adapted and expanded into another product/form.
Anyway, I would like to talk about another thing in this share.

As you all know, today, there are so many smartphone on the market. In term of platform, today we have 3 major smartphone platform.

They are Apple iOS, Google Android and RIM Blackberry OS. But, there are other less popular platform. They are Microsoft Windows Mobile 8, Jolla Sailfish OS and of course Ubuntu.

Before moving on, lets see the home screen of these Smartphone OS/platform.

Jolla Sailfish OS

Ubuntu for smartphone
Windows Phone 8

While, we might can't get the real feel how each of the work just by seeing at the home screen, at least we can see that each of the are quite different (okay, some of them also have similar UI with the other, but we will let the lawyer deal with that).

The question is, how they could come with so many different user interface for the same product called smartphone OS/platform. And..if you want to create another one smartphone OS, how can we design another one that would compete, robust, easy to use but quite different?

Different is something that marketing guru always said all the time. But, how can we make differentiation? Just make it different from the rest?

Ok, lets find out more about our case this time.

Back to the smartphone OS/platform.I think you must already know that each of these smartphone OS/platform is come from different kind of company, with their own history, focus, core (again), previous product (some of them is not event a cellphone company) and services.

This background makes them have different point of view when considering a perfect smartphone OS. In my humble opinion, their different point of view is the main basic enabler to make different product and services for them. Their point of view is one of the main key for delivering unique product.

Lets talk about them one by one. We look again who they are, their history, main product (past or present) and their character.

Apple started as a computer/PC manufacturer. They are famous with their good quality and ease of use. Apple also known as one of a view PC manufacturer that also develop their own OS, the MacOS.

In the early 2000's, they develop a portable music player that will change the world, the iPod. But, if you closely, its not the iPod that ill change everything, for me its actually the iTunes. iTunes marks the beginning of a new era, where a hardware is closely match and tight with a special locked services system. This combination later on, will be known as an ecosystem.

In Apple case, this ecosystem (for them) is an extension of what they believe, to deliver best possible user experience and ease of use. No wonder, today we see that the iPod-iTunes ecosystem model is used in all their product, ie iPhone, iPad and even Mac PC.


Google is an advertising agency that looks like a search engine company :) well, at least that is what we know right now.

I think their goals is to provide search (or we might says, information that matters, related and needed by its user) that as easy as possible, as quick as possible and as accurate as possible. And in the dawn of PC era, they try to bring "the search" to all modern computing platform.
This is why, some says, is real the reason they develop Android in the first place. To deliver search to the most personal computing platform, your smartphone or tablet, first hand without other party as a conductor (Apple launch Siri in 2011, eliminate the need for iOS devices to go to Google for any information you needed).
If you follow Google movement, they recently release Google Now and Google Glass. This two product will mark another step to bring related information (tailored just for you) first hand, up and center that almost automatically and feels like magic.
This is Google. From helping you when you want to know something, to have bring something you want to know or needed before you know it.

Blackberry (previously known as RIM)

Yes, these is the one that actually a smartphone company. And they are quite unique actually. They are among the first to offer you both the hardware (the actual cellphone) and the services (email and BBM). It something now we know in fancy world as “ecosystem”.

Blackberry core is text communication – email and bbm. Today when text based communication is available in various new medium (twitter, facebook, path, whatsapp, line etc) they embrace them. If you happen to try or have their new Z10 with Blackberry OS 10, you cloud see all the text massage is placed into one accessible interface.
In Blackberry OS 10, there is a Blackberry hub that contain all your text based communication

They also known for very good quality (physical) keyboard, something that very logical for a text based communication devices. But, in todays screen only smartphone, the need a better than the rest on screen keyboard.

This is what Blackberry is. this is why their product looks and behaves that way.


They once ruled the world with their Microsoft Windows OS and Microsoft Office while back in the PC era. Today, the world have shifted, people tend to spend more time and to do more on mobile devices such as smartphone and tablet.

For Microsoft, they think that your smartphone and tablet is a PC too, but, generally, we think a PC is that old big beige box or your heavyweight laptop. And they losing the market mindshare.

Today they try to repositioning their Windows OS to make it relevant with todays mobile devices with touchscreen trend. All that devices is a PC, but with a new kind of interaction and form factor, so they should run on top of Windows OS. They result, you can look and feel it on new Windows 8.

Im sure almost no one know about this company. This is a new smartphone OS/platform company, build by ex Nokia engineer (that once work for Nokia killed Maemo/Meego Linux based smartphone OS) that got fired by Mr Elop (Nokia current CEO).
Guys and girls at Jolla believe in Maemo/Meego mobile Linux platform, and the Qt based core technology. So, they continues the development of the platform, and build the company for it.

Ubuntu is a company build by Mark Shuttleworth, he is a self made millionaire and private astronaut from South Africa. He found Ubuntu base on believe that Linux (or opensource software ) should be part of everyday lives. We also heard they said that Ubuntu is a Linux for human being.

It started as a Linux distribution company for server use (much more like Redhat or Suse), but along the way has transform beyond that with their own unique technology and approaches. Now they produces Linux based desktop operating system for your PC or laptop (that you can download and install for free) and offer various cloud based services.

Part of their believe that Linux is for human being and be part of our everyday lives, as of last year (if im not mistaken) Mark Shuttleworth proposed that Ubuntu will expand their presence in todays computing devices or smart devices. The first product that shows up is the Ubuntu for smart TV, then for smartphone and the last one Ubuntu for tablet.

Ubuntu will soon have OS for every new generation of computing devices, and so does Microsoft (and Blackberry too says some rumours)

Now, can we see it?

Their different point of view and believe makes them have different product for the same product.

Is this the same as differentiation?

Not quite. I think there are some similarity with the concept of “product differentiation”, only that product differentiation usually came from marketing team. They tend to look at the market, measuring, mapping,talked with people of some product good, bad and preferences. After that, they try to find a “hole” in the market, and filled it with a new product.

I don't says that this approach is bad or not working. This approach actually works for many company. But, from my limited exploration, I see that this approach usually came up with product variant (style, material or sets of feature) or try to enter a new segment (price point) for the same product.

On the other hand, the company with strong believe and have unique point of view for something, usually can came up with more original product. They can even bring a totally new kind of product that never exist before.
But of course, like all product and invention, for one to success, there are more variable that the two approach i write about. The history is full of a product that came up from the founder believe and point of view, and some of them fail, just like any other business.
So, do you have your own believe and unique point of view?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Windows 9 UI concept

Another UI concept....:)

Windows 8 is about 4 months old right now. Many people said bad thing about it and the PC that came along with it. They say its a compromise product, bad UI among many other things.

Personally, Im living with Windows 8 since the preview release last year, and for me its a great OS. Maybe its not perfect, but i believ its a new way and concept that will complete over time.

Do people even remember, iOS was not complete in the beginning. It can't load 3rd party app and missing multitasking capability. But, many people defense Apple, said it is what mobile OS should be. But, in reality iOS change time over time and become complete and more capable system. I believe Windows 8 will also change over time, patching the hole it has now.

OK. In this concept, i try to address two said problem found (and many people said) about Windows 8. One, about UI consistencies between desktop and modern UI. And two, about the notification system (again, do you remember that iOS also have a problem about this also? the one that finally fix with that pull down status bar..ehemm...just like Android).

Lets start it

First about the desktop UI.
In my concept, i try to redesign the taskbar, flatten it (its the trend now), and make it more consistence with the whole modern UI. The icon style also replaced with modern UI one. But, unlike todays Windows 8 taskbar that only display running desktop app, this taskbar - which i rename to "taskbox" will contain both running desktop , modern UI app, .
I also implemented notification box in here, the one that will also appear in the Start screen (and later in the Windows Phone 9 Start screen) so the whole thing would be consistences.
I imagine, the notification box can be expanded, so the user can response to what they see quickly. I guess, i will make the mockup UI for that later.

Second..The start screen.
I bring the "Taskbox" into the Start screen UI, change the shape of it to match the Start screen grouping icon.  The function is the same. It will contain the notification box, pinned app and running app (both desktop and modern UI app). The "Taskbox" will always be placed in the left side, so it will always visible when user go back to Start screen.

As you can see, the notification box is also present. It gives user quick access and fixed place for the user. They can response to it without have to go deeper into the apps.

Yes, with this solution, there are two method for the user to deal with push data, via the live tile and the notofication box. But, i think that shouldn't be a problem.

Last, Windows Phone implementation
I try to implement the concept on the Windows phone. The taskbox will always stays at the top of the screen for quick access. It can contain frequent used app, favorite live tile, notification box and display running app.

Thats it...