WHY is it so many manufacturers cannot leave well alone? They go to great pains to produce exquisite pieces of technology. Then too often, instead of merely honing the rough edges away to perfection, they spoil everything by adding unnecessary bells and whistles and unwarranted girth. In the pursuit of sales, they seem to feel they must continually add further features to keep jaded customers coming back for more. It is as if consumers can’t be trusted to respect the product for what the designers originally intended.
Occasionally, they get it right. When the little Flip Mino camcorder came out a couple of years ago, your correspondent (not an instinctive early adopter) just knew it was something he had to have. What impressed him about the design was not simply the gadget’s diminutive proportions and low price, but the way the developers had so ruthlessly resisted all the marketing pressure to add further features—and had single-mindedly maintained the design’s clarity of purpose. The Flip had one function, and one only—to fit in a shirt-pocket ready to be flipped out in a trice for those fleeting video moments. This it did brilliantly. Though the Flip’s performance has kept pace with technical improvements, subsequent versions have steadfastly maintained the designer’s original concept.