Saturday, November 12, 2005

I just went to the store to buy a Verizon cellphone. I've tried all the other companies in the area (except Sprint, which I'm microboycotting) and none of them have very good coverage. It seems odd that just a few miles from Silicon Valley, the cell phone service is substantially worse than it is in Tucson, Arizona. How did that happen?

Anyway, I was just about to buy a phone when I started idly going through the menus. What struck me immediately is how the menus were set up so that the things you could get to quickly --like downloading games or browsing advertisements-- were things that would make money for Verizon, and things that you would normally want to do often or quickly --like take a picture or dial a number from the directory-- were harder to get to.

This annoyed me so much that I walked out without buying the phone. I may end up buying it anyway because it was the only Verizon phone that had all the features I want (and because I really want to get away from T-mobile which has awful coverage) but I won't be happy about it.

In a pure capitalist system where everybody has full information, companies could not get away with this crap. Companies would know that if they did something to screw with their customers, the customers would know about it instantly and take their business elsewhere. But as it is, companies can screw with their customers and rely on the fact that most of them won't notice until it is too late. And since most customers won't notice until it is too late, all the companies probably do it, and there is no incentive for anyone to produce a product that is superior in this way.

Marketing people should not be allowed to have any say in user interfaces.

But I know, I know. This is the real world.

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