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Usability test: Does iPhone match the hype?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Computerworld

Perceptive Sciences, an Austin, Texas-based usability consulting firm -- was asked to examine and compare the iPhone and two competitors, HTC Touch and Nokia N95.

In terms of usability, iPhone blew away its two competitors. Its overall score in the usability tests was 4.6 out of 5. The HTC Touch was a distant second at 3.4, and the Nokia N95 scored 3.2."Testers were [typically] about twice as fast doing specific tasks on the iPhone, which is pretty remarkable," Thornton said.

"iPhone's [touch-screen] feature makes it fun to use," Ballew said. "Plus, the screen layout is simple and intuitive, and most of the labels are clear. And the file structure is transparent -- you don't see a list of files unless you go into iPod functionality, and even then, a lot of people are familiar with iPod functionality."

The Nokia N95, however, suffered from too much complexity, even for basic tasks.The Nokia N95 was almost uniformly difficult to use for beginners.

The HTC Touch, by contrast, was confusing to some users. Some testers even had trouble making a phone call with the HTC Touch, Ballew said. "That's pretty basic functionality, but we had people who couldn't complete a call at all."

Functionality refers to what some consider the meat and potatoes of the device.In this area, the Nokia was the clear leader. On the other hand, he stressed, its strong feature set contributed to its relatively poor usability scores in previous categories. "It's right on the verge of feature bloat," he said. "I mean, I'm not sure when I'd ever use the bar-code scanner.

By contrast, this is one area in which the iPhone did not excel. Thornton noted that some of the functionality the iPhone did have was extremely well implemented. "People were faster and more successful in getting to a Web page with iPhone," Thornton said. The bottom line in this category is that there often are trade-offs between the feature-richness and usability, Thornton said.
post #2 of 12
Not a very fair report to be honest. Something like that can only be done using a public conensus.
post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bavlondon2 View Post

Not a very fair report to be honest. Something like that can only be done using a public conensus.

I had posted this article in another thread and thought it was actually well done. To get 'public' consensus you need to identify who the 'public' is. If it is the feature mongers that like complexity then the iPhone won't be 'usable' becuase you can't use features it doesn't have. If it is the non-tech type that want to use those feature that a phone does have then the iPhone will do well.

Judging by a number of the comments on these forums the iPhone should never have done well because it didn't have...

keyboard
3G
voice dialing
etc.
etc.
etc.

And yet I would say that with over 1 million sold in 74 days then the 'public' has spoken that usability counts. Again, based on comments in these forums, it couldn't have done well otherwise as it was an overpriced, under-featured piece of hardware.

If my visit to our local Apple store is any indication then they are still selling like the proverbial hotcakes. In my 15 minutes in the store I saw 6 iPhone bought and paid for!!!
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Did you read the article? It explains the testing method. I only posted parts.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by physguy View Post

I had posted this article in another thread and thought it was actually well done. To get 'public' consensus you need to identify who the 'public' is. If it is the feature mongers that like complexity then the iPhone won't be 'usable' becuase you can't use features it doesn't have. If it is the non-tech type that want to use those feature that a phone does have then the iPhone will do well.

Judging by a number of the comments on these forums the iPhone should never have done well because it didn't have...

keyboard
3G
voice dialing
etc.
etc.
etc.

And yet I would say that with over 1 million sold in 74 days then the 'public' has spoken that usability counts. Again, based on comments in these forums, it couldn't have done well otherwise as it was an overpriced, under-featured piece of hardware.

If my visit to our local Apple store is any indication then they are still selling like the proverbial hotcakes. In my 15 minutes in the store I saw 6 iPhone bought and paid for!!!


So far only the USA have had the iphone. I suggest waiting until Europe have had it fora few months and then see the difference. We arnt as easily pleased as you guys.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bavlondon2 View Post

So far only the USA have had the iphone. I suggest waiting until Europe have had it fora few months and then see the difference. We arnt as easily pleased as you guys.

That actually sounds a lot like 'It'll never sell without..." cry that blasted across here in January when it was first announced. You're right, we will see. I work with a lot of european's and travel there frequently on business and I think these claims are basically the same as in the US, they're based on the a couple of factors that Apple is trying to change, and IMO succeeding.

1) Higher end phone design(s) have been dominated by feature lists and sold to techies that like features. (And those that follow the recommendations of the techies)

2) This leaves a untapped (and I think significant) market that is less concerned with feature lists and more concerned with using the features they get.

These are the people that are buying in the US (as least those I've talked with) They are more than pleased with the EDGE/WiFi combo approach. They really value being able to use every feature they have.

Believe me, I'm a techie. I just finished compiling and installing MySQL on my iPhone, so I think I qualify Would I like all these extra features - yes - but I still understand that Apple's focus with the iPhone is different and I believe they've once again found a significant market that others are ignoring.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So far only the USA have had the iphone. I suggest waiting until Europe have had it for a few months and then see the difference. We arnt as easily pleased as you guys.

You still haven't read the article. You are likely quantifying better to mean more features. This was addressed in the article. They found that as the phone gained more features, those features became more difficult to use. So are you saying Europeans are more pleased to have a lot of features that are difficult to figure out and use?
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

You still haven't read the article. You are likely quantifying better to mean more features. This was addressed in the article. They found that as the phone gained more features, those features became more difficult to use. So are you saying Europeans are more pleased to have a lot of features that are difficult to figure out and use?

Why are people buying Blackberrys ?

Other than instant email, I can't see the advantage--

can someone help me out
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammick View Post

Why are people buying Blackberrys ?

Other than instant email, I can't see the advantage--

can someone help me out

My friend just bought one (a blackberry) and it was the right choice for him

1) push email is a requirement for him

more importantly

2) training and support - he gets these for the blackberry not for the iPhone.

and finally

3) He only needs phone and e-mail doesn't need all these other features on either the blackberry or the iphone, and wouldn't use them. I couldn't, in good faith, even try to twist his arm. Oh, and EDGE is a perfect match for him.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Why are people buying Blackberrys ?

Blackerry was really designed for, used, and supported by enterprise business. The iPhone is more a consumer product than business.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
"People can eventually learn to use any device," Ballew said. "But that's not true usability. We wanted to see how long it took to figure out how to use the phones. That's the difference between learnability and usability."

So to kick things off, this guy exactly reverses the accepted definitions of usability and learnability.

No matter what the definitions used, he's wrong. For a device like a mobile phone you keep for three years, how usable it is on day 1 is insignificant and how usable it is during the last 35 months of ownership is everything. This study only has academic interest. For deciding what to buy, I'd want to see a study of people who have used their phones for a month.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So to kick things off, this guy exactly reverses the accepted definitions of usability and learnability

What is the accepted definition?

Quote:
For a device like a mobile phone you keep for three years, how usable it is on day 1 is insignificant and how usable it is during the last 35 months of ownership is everything.

People can learn, but isn't it much better to have software that is easy to use from day 1.
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