iEase, iConvenience, iButton

One of the best things that Steve Jobs ushered in was the focus on “intuitiveness.” Most computing devices and applications required a user to learn how to use a device and many devices required a user to remember a series of complex tasks. Apple, to its credit, created devices and applications activated at the click of a button.

While the iPhone was not the first device to use haptics, it made use of “touch” much more intuitive. This approach actually simplified the way a consumer could communicate for two reasons; first, you do not have to find the mouse to click through, and second, it is a lot more natural to just touch the screen.

I have had the opportunity to watch a group of three-year-old children interact with the iPad. The devices were simply put on their desks, and the children were asked to open up to the right page. It took the children less than 45 seconds to be on the same page. What was ironic was that the children were able to scroll through at a pace that was faster than the instructor at times.

iPad: Driving ROI in a Restaurant

A friend owns an Indian restaurant in London, U.K. While Indian food is really popular in the U.K., it is hard for him to be at every table to explain each dish all the time. He started by investing in one iPad that he uses to display images of food served at the restaurant. His servers walk over to customers with the devices and allow the customer to scroll through the food options. The pictures are phenomenal; the food stands out and looks absolutely irresistible.


Money does matter to my friend as he is not one to just invest without driving ROI. On average, two guests would order two entrées, and either share an appetizer or a dessert. People now order either an extra entrée, and an appetizer, or dessert. His average order has gone up by 11 pounds. With more than 50 dinners each night, his iPad is upselling 550 pounds each night! He now uses two iPads and encourages customers to take a survey on his iPad. Many clients post feedback directly onto Facebook.

iPad: Bringing a New Cool to Security Drivers

I met some executives from Brink’s in the Netherlands. The organization helps replenish cash in automatic teller machines. Its drivers used to carry paper notebooks to log their activity and communicate. The drivers now carry iPads and the consequences of this move have been interesting. First, the iPad makes each driver more efficient. Second, the iPad has raised the status of these drivers to a higher level – no longer are they looked at as “gun-toting tough guys.” Instead, they are considered cool. One of Brink’s’ concerns was how to train its drivers on using the devices – it did not have to worry about that. The device’s intuitiveness and applications are easy to use. In fact, the drivers and their customers suggested ways to make these devices even more useful. One Brink’s executive told me that the iPad has made his blue collar guys look like white collar executives!

iDevices: Easy Enough for a Grandfather

My 87-year-old grandfather enjoys the iPad, the iPhone, and of course his iPod. He spends time with all three devices. Many of his friends and relatives call him to ask for telephone numbers or “Yellow Page”-type information. The man can turn on the machine with ease and two to three pushes later, he has the answer. The devices make it easy for him to interact with the World Wide Web and he no longer worries about having to be trained on how to use a particular application. He used to spend his time looking through books and newspapers and then struggling to find the information – now it is really easy.

I write this column as a tribute to Steve Jobs. By focusing on the ease of use, he forced the entire industry to drive in intuitiveness. You do not have to learn how to use Mac products, the learning comes naturally. And if the learning comes naturally, it also becomes increasingly easier to use the product to assist with what you want to do. The iPhone, the Macbook, and the iPad have spurred a number of application service providers to create applications that are invoked at the click of a button.

I see so many consumers trying to adjust their view at an ATM or kiosk as if they were looking at their iPhone. These same consumers complain as to why their financial institutions or grocers or retailers cannot simplify their screens.

Computing used to be very complicated and businesses almost “enjoyed” training consumers to use their devices and applications because it could lock in the consumer. Steve Jobs pushed others to think about simplicity and ease of use in design while pushing it to the next stage of innovation. This phenomenon is known as the iButton, whereby the consumer simply expects businesses to be as intuitive as a button.

Related reading