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In Steve Jobs Universe, Less Features Is The Biggest Feature

Wow. Oh. My. God. Russell Beattie is smoking the Apple crack.

Oh. My. God. I didn’t “get” FrontRow when I read about it. WOW. Apple is going to completely own the PVR space. Completely. Utterly. Holy. Shit.

My comment on his post:

So, how will Apple own the PVR space without a PVR? I’m just curious :-)

But, beyond that, Russell I encourage you to really use a Media Center PC. Devote your entertainment viewing to it entirely for a week. Then try Front Row and tell me its better. Yes, Front Row is prettier, but I hardly took you to be the type of person who wants elegance over features.

MCE does so much more than Front Row. In every way, the Front Row features are just entry-level versions of MCE features. How does it even measure up?

MCE has limitations, but to put it mildly, it is a full OS overhaul / platform designed to bring the full power of the PC entertainment library, with plugins for weather updates, RSS, Skype, caller ID, movie listings, DVD recording, FM radio recording, and hundreds of other features anyone can read up on.

Front Row is an interface for iTunes that uses a six-button remote.

It just doesn’t compare.

Maybe after Apple has worked on once/twice yearly revs for four years it will have a competitive product, but I don’t think so. MCE 2002 had more features than Front Row has; and MCE Vista makes Front Row look like a little leaguer to Microsoft’s major league MVP.

I love how Jobs compares the remotes to say that six buttons are better than 40+, while the only reason Front Row has six buttons is because it has so few features. My MCE remote has 41 buttons.

  • 10 are numbers (no need, since there are no TV channels in Front Row)
  • 2 are phone keys * and # (no phone features)
  • 2 are channel up/down (no TV)
  • 2 are for skipping commercials (again, TV)
  • 1 record button (no feature)
  • 1 mute button (oops, must’ve forgotten that one)
  • 4 directional buttons (integrated into the six, meaning you can’t control video and navigate at the same time)
  • 1 info button (like a right-click, access further info, closed captioning, zoom)
  • 4 feature-specific buttons (Recorded TV, TV Guide, Live TV, and DVD Menu) of which Front Row only has one, since it only has one of the features

Less buttons is more? Do you see what you’re missing? Macs are great for a lot of things, but replacing the TV? Maybe in 2009, if Microsoft doesn’t hold onto its huge lead.

October 17th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, XP, Apple, Media Center, Windows, General | 6 comments

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  1. Some curious comments Nathan, and I’m pretty sure that most product designers would disagree with you on a lot of your points. It’s an interesting discussion though, and one that I intend to delve deeper into on my blog (as I’m generally focused on design, usability and stuff like that) when I get a moment. I certainly appreciate your opinions, but some of the comparisons you make don’t stand up, in my opinion. Would Apple be forced to have 10 number buttons if it had TV channels? Why doesn’t my iPod have 10 of them then, or 1000 for that matter? Phone features? Video conferencing is there in iSight, and for that you use the mouse (and probably sit pretty close to the screen). A mute button? For what precisely? If you’re watching/listening to media under your control then pause is what people do generally. Mute is only necessary for something you can’t stop (like live TV when you have no PVR function - the best option there would be for the play button to ‘pause’ the live stream by spooling it to disk/memory).

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you compare MCE 2002 with Front Row: This isn’t about product revision and version-to-version feature creep, it’s about focus, deciding what makes sense in the context of what you’re offering, and ruthlessly iterating before you release in order to make something work better. I don’t think Front Row has all the features it might need either, but I know we won’t get a 40-button remote when it does.

    Comment by Robert Sharl | October 17, 2005

  2. You can curse on you’re blog? Cool!

    Comment by Raquel Heney | October 17, 2005

  3. six buttons vs. 40+? They do say that less is more.

    Comment by Raquel Heney | October 17, 2005

  4. Looks like they got Russell back on the kool-aid after his brief flirtation with abandoning Apple. :D

    Comment by Stu | October 17, 2005

  5. Raquel: my policy is I don’t curse, but I won’t remove the cursing from quotes of what other people said. And as for the less is more, can you honestly say that people would say you had more if you had less (wink, wink)?

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | October 17, 2005

  6. […] So, The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a reader report on Apple’s Front Row, and its actually worse than I thought. What else does Front Row not have, besides the stuff I mentioned last time? […]

    Pingback by » Front Row’s Total Lack Of Features, Part Two  InsideMicrosoft - part of the Blog News Channel | October 24, 2005

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