Solving a Problem People Don’t Want Solved

I really don’t mean to keep writing about Humane’s Change Everything teaser, but a DF reader emailed to say that the gist of it — that our collective addiction to our phones is a problem, and that Humane has struck upon a solution — reminded him of Microsoft’s ad campaign when they launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010.

I hadn’t thought about that in a while, but yes — yes it does. The first spot in Microsoft’s campaign has seemingly vanished from the internet, but the second spot in the campaign — which is very fun and exquisitely well-executed, replete with an excellent choice of song — is available on YouTube. I highly recommend giving this old ad a minute of your time for a rewatch. (Update: Here’s a copy of the first ad in the campaign — it’s just as funny as I remember. Worth watching! But a clever well-made short film is not a good ad if it doesn’t make people want to buy the product.)

The gist of Microsoft’s 2010 Windows Phone campaign was the same — everyone devotes too much attention to their phones and Microsoft has hit upon a solution. Here’s what I wrote then:

And do iPhone / Android / BlackBerry addicts really see this as a problem that needs to be solved? I feel like I spend so much time on my iPhone not because it’s inefficient, but because it’s so good. I’m never more than a few seconds away from something at least somewhat engaging.

I.e., Microsoft’s premise here is that WP7 has a dashboard and system-wide interface that’s optimized for getting you through a finite amount of “checking in” or “catching up” in significantly less time than other mobile systems. But I don’t think people are on their iPhones / Androids / BlackBerrys all the time because of inefficient UI design. I think it’s because we want to be on them. These devices are where our minds are drawn — like moths to a flame, perhaps — whenever we’re otherwise unoccupied.

Holds up.

Saturday, 23 July 2022