ana.words, unsexy and unstoppable

ana.words, unsexy and unstoppable
11. Februar 2000 michael
In Allgemein
A couple of years ago I had a chat with a retired executive.
He had worked with Ericsson for many years and had seen a
lot of changes in the telecommunications industry. We began
to talk about the Internet and all the radical changes that
were occurring in society and business. At one point he
shook his head.

"Things are moving too fast," he said. "Product development
is not focusing on customer needs. People don't like
complexity. More than ever the average person wants
simplicity. Whoever makes it simple will be the winner in
the long run."

He was a fan of music and he told me about his Bang &
Olufson audio equipment. It was very expensive, yet had
very few features. It was very simple to use. Bang &
Olufson concentrated on one core feature: sound quality.

I began to think a lot about simplicity. As I did I saw
simplicity at the heart of the Internet. The Internet
concentrated on one core feature: communication. The
World Wide Web concentrated on one core feature:
publishing. The combination of communication and
publishing is at the heart of the Internet revolution.

Around 1994, AOL was the company the Internet was going
to destroy. Among the Internet elite of nerds and
academics was an unbridled contempt for AOL. This was
a "dumb" company. I remember a debate on one email
discussion list arguing about whether people with AOL
addresses should not be allowed to join because by
definition they would have nothing of value to

Last year I read an article in Wired magazine that
described AOL as "unsexy and unstoppable". How right
that article was. You see, the driving vision of Steve
Case and AOL has been to make things as simple as
possible for their users. Twenty million Americans
later only a few begrudgers would doubt the
correctness of that vision.

Surprise, surprise, AOL figured that most people just
want to talk about sex. Not politics, not war, not
nanotechnology; just sex. Now what is wrong with
that? William Butler Yeats once said that the only
two subjects worth writing about were sex and death.
James Joyce spent a lot of his time thinking and
writing about sex.

AOL has triumphed because it fundamentally understands
the customer. No, it doesn't always get it right.
Nobody has ever always got it right. AOL has made huge
mistakes but it has never wavered from keeping it
simple for the customer. The customer has responded,
because while many of us parade a hip complexity,
below the surface the vast majority of us crave a
simple life.

Those of us who seek to serve the customer should
carefully learn the lessons that AOL can teach us.
The Internet is a place where people come to find
out things and a place where people come to find
company. The Internet is such a wonderful place
because it shows that the human race is hungry to
reach out and communicate; to share information,
fantasies, dreams, in the hope that somewhere,
sometime in this giant throbbing network, someone
else will connect and respond.

Gerry McGovern
For New thinking archives, please go to:

-- = --    -- = --    -- = --     

a n a . w o r d s
aus dem hellblauen salon
ana.txt seite 444

reicht ana.words weiter!

vragen & kommentare & texte, die
ihr davon findet, sie seien es wert, 
dass es die ganze welt erfaehrt, oder 
mindestens die redaktion, dann 

du willst auch? immer mehr?
dann abonnier auch du ana.words:
<> oder
 mit subject:subscribe

hast du genug? immer weniger?
dann bestell doch nicht ana.words ab: