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David Kellogg, CEO of Mark Logic, recently published a very interesting post on the possible future of devices like the Kindle. He was responding to an article in the Economist that quoted naysayers and skeptics. It’s well worth a read.

Kellogg raised a tangential point in his post that resonated deeply with my own experiences and trends I’m seeing among colleagues and friends. He calls it “device psychology,” a premise posed in the following passage:

Consider this: I don’t like my laptop as a device; it’s slow and cumbersome. It takes forever to start. It always needs maintenance. And, most of all, it’s a work device. . . . I do not associate anything “fun” or “recreational” about my laptop.

Ergo, the dead last thing I want to do is take my laptop in bed or to the beach and read a book on it. I feel quite differently about my Kindle. It is a fun device. It is a recreational device. And while it’s a connected device, it’s not one on which I can either be tempted (e.g., into reading email) or interrupted (e.g., getting a phone call). Technical advantages, such as the important ability to read in broad daylight, aside, it’s a device that I’m happy to bring to bed or the beach.

Kellogg is exactly right about what causes users to switch devices. I’ve recently been staging mock races between my laptop and my iPhone. Guess what? For email, the iPhone wins, hands down. I’ll bet Blackberry owners have known this for years. Desktop and laptop systems are slow to boot, exposed to viruses, always updating their software, and less and less integral to what I need and want to do. If you’re in front of them, you’re working. And they’re constantly interrupting you with reminders, emails, and other notifications.

Instead, a small set of niche devices is taking over or carving out new purposes for connected computing. And part of the reason they’re winning is the psychology of users, who in the midst of a media storm, seek control. A device has inherent boundaries.

And managing device boundaries is now a way to manage time.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


1 Thought on "Device Psychology"

i entirely agree. from my own point of view: ipod touch instead of iphone=same reasons. touch=fun; kindle=for my mind, which can=fun, and always=good.

i had a pda for awhile, until it died. i liked it very much overall — but toward the end of its life i didn’t even want to touch it, because i stored everything there, including information regarding two serious illnesses in my family. this fact resulted in a completely new set of rules surrounding my own device purchases/use.

i have read similar comments from others in various online fora.

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