Industry told to make it simpler


MANUFACTURERS must make personal computers simple to operate or they can say goodbye to the expected boom in home users, according to an industry insider. "This new business will be an illusion unless we simplify our products for the normal people in the world that, hate computers," said Dr Bob Glass of Sun Microsystems.

"Simplicity and elegance will win in the future. If not, the business will go the way of the CB Radio," said Glass, a psychologist and director of strategic technology at Sun. He was addressing a conference in Monte Carlo last week sponsored by the US computer publisher IDG Group.

In other speeches, the conference heard that PC use would boom as individuals at home hurried to link up to the Internet, and multimedia entertainment.

IDG Group chairman Patrick McGovern said that by 2000 over one billion people would use PCs, up from 450 million now. The business of moving data across networks would be worth over $1 trillion by 2000 making it the biggest industrial sector in the world.

But Glass said the industry can forget all this if PCs remain unreliable and impossible to use without technical skill. "If the first users of the telephone failed to get a connection the first two or three times they tried it, they'd have said I'm not going to use that" Glass said.

"Early adapters will put up with this, but the mainstream won't. I think we've got it all wrong for the mainstream population of the world," Glass said.

He also questioned one supposed boon of Internet access electronic mail. "When I return to the office after a couple of days, I'm inundated with all this e-mail. I'm getting very good with the delete button. In 10 to 15 years' time you will pay money not to be on the net" Glass said.