In the previous Maark Blog post, we talked in general terms about how overlooked the software user experience is in the burgeoning world of the Internet of Things (or internet of things, according to the AP). I thought we should follow up on that and get more specific.
So let’s talk about stoves.
The one always setting off smoke alarms in my kitchen is a Maytag. For the rest of this post you’ll have to accept the hypothetical that I do a lot of cooking and care about what stove I use (when, in reality, I had to run into the kitchen before I started writing this post to see what brand it was).
I mean, I could have bought any stove. There are a lot of them out there and, as far as I know, they can all bake lasagna. So why did I buy a Maytag?
Because I like their stoves better than other company’s stoves that have the same basic feature set and cost range. More specifically, I liked the experience of their stoves better. The experience is what sets them apart from other stoves.
That experience includes everything from how well its adjustable-level self-cleaning works to the view through its extra large oven window to its cubic feet of capacity—all the features you see in its online listing.
But the experience is more than that. It’s the texture, shape, and give of the knobs, the configuration of the burners on the stove top, the sheen of the metal, all the elements that Maytag has industrially designed to try to make their stoves the easiest to use, the most enjoyable to use, and the most aesthetically appealing over, say, the jerks at Kenmore. Just kidding, I’m sure their stoves bake lasagna, too.
Again, these companies all sell stoves, but it’s the experience of their stoves that sets them apart (or doesn’t) from their competition. And now, in the nascent era of the Internet of Things, that experience is extended into the software interface on the stove, which makes software design as important a contributor to the user experience as the stove’s industrial design.
Actually, it becomes somewhat more so.
The software experience will subsume some of that industrial design. No more twisting nobs because you have screen buttons. No more bending over to look in the window because you have a camera relaying images to the screen (and your phone). In subsuming those elements, it will influence the industrial design. The ultimate smart ovens will look very different from conventional ones (they’re already starting to…see the above image).
Eventually, customers will interact more with the user interface on the stove and on their phone that is linked to the stove than they will with the physical stove itself. That’ll change the Thanksgiving dynamic a bit, I think.
And this idea doesn’t just apply in B2C settings. It will apply to B2B “things,” as well. Because it still comes down to the experience a person is having with your thing and how much better or worse it is than your competition’s.
The battle just moves to the screen.