The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Last night I sat in a dimly lit upscale restaurant, eating a delicious meal with my wife. In between courses, I played with a new device I had purchased, registered, and fully enabled just over two hours earlier. My wife gave me an indulgent smile as I pointed out the elegant ergonomics and beautiful implementation—her husband the geek.

The waiter noticed it first and stared.

“You got one?” he said with a smile. “How? It went on sales, what, just two hours ago.” He bent over the table for a look.

I smiled and nodded, showing him some of the iPhone’s many features. He then hurried off.

Within three minutes the hostess and two other waiters came to the table—big smiles on their faces. “Can we see it?” they asked with no preamble.

Again, a brief demo to comments that had words like “awesome” “way cool” and “off the hook” in them.

In the software engineering biz, we often discuss product requirements. Some are specified by the customer and define what the market needs. Some are implicit and identify what the market expects, but a few are unique—their intent is to surprise and delight.

And that’s what the iPhone does—it surprises and delights with its elegance, its design, its degree of integration, its functionality.

Every person who I’ve shown it to has smiled. Every one has oohed and aahed. Every one!

The iPhone is a breakthrough product, but not because it provides more functions and features than blackberry class machines. Its competitors can do much of what the iPhone can do, but still, the iPhone surprises and delights. Why? Because it does what it does with sheer elegance, with an unbelievably well designed interface, with seamless interoperability with Macs and PCs, with a natural workflow that will fundamentally change the nature of personal communication devices and quite possibly personal computers as well.

For those of us who have already experienced one, we have seen the future, and I guess that’s about as exciting as it gets.