I don't agree on all points -- Some of the design flaws he identifies are tricky "icing" on the consumer cake that it takes a clever designer and a budget to go after: like having a little pocket on the frame back for a remote control. Nice to have, but not mandatory, even for a good consumer experience.
"We learned deeply a few hard lessons," he said. "Consumer electronics is a very difficult business. It's difficult to get it right." ...
Maybe this particular guy is rightness challenged. Or maybe he meant that getting things right takes time, money and effort, which is true.
But it sounds like he's saying that it's hard to know what's right in product design, and he'll never convince me of that. A ten-year old could have identified the design flaws in the frames I tested this week.
But getting things right does take time, money, and effort; as well as "big-picture" design management of the sort lacking at all but few companies. Someone needs to remember the people you're designing for, and to represent that by stepping backwards out of the details of schedule and bug counts and putting into perspective: "...Hey, can your Grandfather use this for the baby pictures you're sending?" It's the responsible executive's position to make the call to change the schedule to accommodate the experience-breaker issues that will threaten you in a crowded market, and to champion processes like in-home user testing as part of the design cycle.
Kodak, who comes out pretty well for their frame design in his piece, hires interaction designers, although I don't know if they have a Chief Design Officer. So why hire an interaction designer instead of, say, a 10-year old? Because most 10 year olds aren't up to arguing with project managers and engineering schedules, and generally keeping their head both in the gritty details and well outside, for that important user perspective.
Pogue's piece is still good and also funny. As a former TiVo designer mystified by the crapness of most "consumer" electronics design, I especially liked this one:
Question 10: Which is the right way to label the jacks and buttons: White lettering on black (or vice versa), white on white (Momento), or with no text labels at all (eStarling)?
We did think of this at TiVo (of course), but I still wish we had added a little LED flashlight dongle to the back, since there's always bad light at the back of your cabinet!