Monday, October 29

Choice is more often a feeling than an action

Duncan Riley is copping some criticism on Techcrunch over his opinion that OS X Leopard's widgets are newsworthy enough to report on.

I think it's an interesting feature of Leopard, but not really significant to the widget sector (is it a sector yet? ;-) covered by TC.

Unlike most other widget platforms, OS X's widgets are hidden in a Widget app that you need to open first, reducing the number of views/user. They aren't cross-platform, and Leopard's market share is only a slice of the total OS X installed base. I don't know what share of the total OS market OS X enjoys, but it must be small. Growing faster than other OSes, likely, but from a very low base.

Microsoft, with it stated aim of being the Internet OS - and its long-developed habit of copying Apple's interfaces - may eventually copy this 'create your own widget from the browser' feature, but at MSFT's current rate of innovation, count on seeing that some time >2020, by which time it'll be Mozilla-based browsers, not IE, that will have dominant market share.

The other thing to consider is what percentage of users will make their own widget given the opportunity to do so. My experience working on personalisable homepages for portals suggests that while everyone ticks "yes" when you ask them whether they want their own personalisable homepage, when the product goes live, most of those yes-tickers will never take the time to personalise their homepage. My observations suggest that ease-of-use has no bearing on that result - it doesn't matter if it's one button on the toolbar away.

Personalisation is like fast-food - knowing that the fast-food franchise lets you choose your own fillings gets you in the door rather than the competitor's door. But 98% of us choose the off-the-shelf burger after we walk in and view the menu because it's quicker, easier, and we figure whoever decided that pickles and ketchup go together must know what they're doing. Mistakenly...

We think we want choice, but what we really want is the feeling that we could choose if we wanted to.

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