A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

KEEP IT SIMPLE





Now I don’t watch that much TV, but I was presented with a bit of a dilemma one particular night. This was because one of the few things I watch regularly at the moment is The Apprentice, but this particular night The Champions League Final was on at the same time on another channel.

I know what you’re thinking…

That’s not a dilemma. It’s easy, watch one and record the other.

A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but that was before I swapped my good old-fashioned video recorder for a DVD recorder. The video was easy. Rewind the tape, press record and that was it. But the DVD recorder is a whole different kettle of fish.

The remote for a start has about 70 buttons, and I have no idea (or desire to learn) what any of them do. My ‘success rate’ at actually recording what I intend is pitifully low. It’s no more than a 50/50 chance. Sometimes I’ll record the wrong programme, other times I’ll only record part of it because I run out of disc space half way through, and then there are the times when it records absolutely nothing.

And this night was one of those ‘nothing’ times…

Good job there was a repeat on the following Saturday.

It seems to me that we have now entered an age where we are often creating and inventing solutions for problems which don’t really exist – and in so doing, making the whole situation far more complex than it needs to be. My DVD recorder is a case in point…

And I’m sure that if I could be bothered to find out, it does all sorts of wonderful things that a video recorder never could, but I don’t want it to do any of those things. I just want to be able to quickly and reliably record a programme with the press of a couple of buttons. And I suspect there are many other people who feel the same.

And it’s the same with mobile phones…

To my simple mind, they reached the peak of desirable development about 5 years ago. They were as small as they would ever get, relatively simple to understand and use, and you could make and receive phone calls on them.

But that was before they started cramming 5 million megapixel cameras, iPods, navigation devices, internet browsers, high resolution screens and goodness knows what else, into the damned things.

It’s a classic case of technology leading demand, rather than demand leading technology. But I’m the first to admit, that although they didn’t demand or crave a multi-function, all-singing-all dancing-phone, there’s a huge market who do love these things and snap them up in their millions. In fact there’s a huge market for the most complex, technology-laden, cutting edge products in every field…

But I just don’t happen to be in it, and I’m far from alone too.

You see, as products in all fields become more and more complex, there are a significant group of consumers who crave more and more simplicity. They don’t want a ‘Swiss army knife’ style product. They just want a penknife they can whip out and use while everyone else is still deciding which blade to pull out. They can’t be bothered learning how something works. They just want to press a button, and have it do the job.

And I don’t think this is confined to what you would obviously class as technological products either…

In an ever increasingly complex world, the appeal of a product or service which ‘just does the job’, without the need for a manual as thick as a phone book or a personal training programme to boot, is a very strong one.

I know that in my own business, providing a simple push-button solution to a problem is almost always easier to sell, than a more complex (and potentially superior) solution which requires time, effort and work to implement.

And for the entrepreneur, this is excellent news…

And this is because, while you may not necessarily be able to fully compete on terms of complexity and technological advancement, it’s almost always possible to compete on the basis of mere simplicity.

You see in striving to be cutting edge, market leading and at the forefront of your field, the customer appeal of simplicity is frequently overlooked. And now could be a good time to give some thought to how you might introduce some simple product or service alternatives back into your own field.

You might be shocked by how well they’re received. Because simplicity really does sell.



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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