Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Microsoft and Nokia Go User-Friendly

iPhone sparks changes in mobile phone interface designs ...

"With the success of the iPhone, mobile-phone players want to improve menus and other navigation tools on their own handsets—but at what cost?

Of all the ways Apple's iPhone is disrupting the mobile-phone industry, one of the most tangible is in how it's shaking up the user experience. The release of the music-playing mobile phone brought many people a whole new way to call up services, navigate from one section to another—even dial a phone number. Apple (AAPL) may raise the bar further in January, when it's expected to make it easier for outside developers (BusinessWeek.com, 10/16/07) to create tools and features for the iPhone.

Competing makers of smartphones—wireless handsets that double as mini computers—have gotten the message. And in the wake of the iPhone launch, many are taking pains to improve their own software and hardware to eliminate the often arduous or non-intuitive task of gaining access to even the most basic information. "The industry has been in need of it long before the iPhone came out," says Julie Ask, an analyst with consultancy JupiterResearch.

Rivals, including Microsoft (MSFT), Motorola (MOT), Sony Ericsson, and the Nokia-led Symbian group of developers, have all recently announced investments and features to overhaul how their phones look and feel and how they're used.
The User Interface Difference

The so-called user interface, the menus and other features we use to make the phone do what we ask, will never be the same. "We are investing a lot in user interface," says Phil Holden, director of mobile services for online services business at Microsoft. "Many of us believe one way we can differentiate our [mobile] search experience is through [digital menu] innovation."

Microsoft, which some critics say has lagged behind in digital menu innovation, on Oct. 16 unveiled a series of upgrades, many of them aimed at cell phones and building on its acquisition of mobile-search company Tellme. Microsoft introduced a free directory assistance service—usable from any phone—that's similar to a directory product available from Google (GOOG). Microsoft also introduced voice-activated mobile-Web search and made it easier for users to request maps via cell phones."    (Continued via Business Week)    [Usability Resources]

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