The Less Feature
The Less Feature
August 20, 2010
The other day I planned for a very simple trip from A to B. I started with Orbitz. When I finally penetrated the security system, i.e. figured out my own password, I noodled around and found many pages of flight options. Over the next several hours I tried sorting by flight time, shortest route, and price. Then I tried JetBlue’s site because it’s not included in Orbitz. Then I tried United Airlines’ site because I didn’t know if they would have extra options, and I needed to check my miles. The flight I picked had all sorts of seating options and levels of travel that I needed to research. Then I needed to arrange the rental car, the hotel, and the airport pickup. Then I took all of the information and reformatted it in a way I could read. At some point in the process I crossed a line: The time to plan and book the trip took longer than it will take to fly across the entire country.
Worse yet, I don’t have the slightest confidence that I got the best deal or the most convenient flight. And just to make things interesting, the flight’s on-time rating is in the “rarely” range. That means I probably didn’t book any flight at all. What I really did was plan for a time to be at the airport when someone will spot the pilot at the bar, alert the authorities, and the flight will be delayed for “mechanical difficulties.”
In situations like this, I find myself dreaming of a world with fewer options. I would pay extra to have fewer travel choices. I often feel that way.
I recently wrote about my new watch that has GPS for tracking my running. It has so many features that I fail 50% of the time in getting it to do anything at all. I literally don’t know what sequence of tapping, holding, and humming gets me to the right mode. When it works, I start yelling “What did I just do?! What did I just do?!” I would pay 50% more for a watch that only tells me the current time and my running distance.
Apple often gets the less features thing right. The iPad didn’t add a fast boot-up speed, it subtracted a hard disk. It didn’t add a touch screen, it subtracted a keyboard. You want to print? Forget it. The iPad is awesome precisely because it has fewer options. If I want more complexity I can purchase apps.
One of my local movie theaters just added the option of special seats that move in sync with the action on screen. Now every time I want to see a movie with friends, I need to poll everyone to see what sort of seat they want. Worse yet, another nearby theater offers dinner with movies. It won’t be long before planning a movie will take more time than the movie itself.
Let me say it again: World, I’ll pay extra if you will please give me less.