Editor's Corner: Too many buttons

High-speed mobile content, location-sensitive apps, and new wireless networking tools seem destined for ubiquity. But there is a significant obstacle to large-scale consumer adoption of wireless technology: it's too hard to use. According to a survey by Tatara Systems, only one-in-20 business people could explain the difference between WiFi, 3G, and GPRS. Mobile games are too hard to play, mobile communications tools are too hard to set up, and high-end cell phones are simply difficult to use. Simple user interfaces designed for kids and the elderly are a step in the right direction, as are efforts to standardize software look-and-feel across phones; however, current phones have too many buttons. Furthermore, as small, high-speed mobile devices gain popularity, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. An intuitive, consistent, user experience would be a great thing for everyone in the wireless industry. - Eli