Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reverse Engineering Pleasure

This week is all about Reverse Marketing Analysis for an imaginary target user. So, everyone, meet my (not-so) little imaginary friend, Adam. Now, go think I'm mad for being able to conjure up an imaginary friend.

Adam is a 26-year old Marketing Executive, and an essential "yuppie".

Physically attractive, well-spoken and well-presented. Adam believes that he has to "look and sound the part, to sell the part," be it in terms of his job mantra or his personal image. Thus, Adam spends a huge sum of money on clothes and fashion accessories to keep himself looking trendy and fashion-forward. His choice in fashion lies mostly in the range of "smart casual," and tends to steer towards the sleek, polished look; and favours innovative niche brands over well-established. His heavy-investment in self-grooming pays off though, as he is almost universally recognized as "well-dressed" amongst his co-workers and friends, and he knows this and rightfully regards himself as such, while trying to maintain the image consistently.

Socially, Adam keeps a VERY hectic schedule, which is mostly ad-hoc. He often meets with co-workers or old friends for drinks after work, and goes out hard-partying at the hottest clubs on weekends, places where he goes to see, and be seen. He is generally flirty by nature, and seriously non-committal in relationships, believing in casual dating more than anything serious, and dates up to 3 different girls on some weeks. A big spendthrift, with little savings monthly, Adam spends a large portion of his pay on wining and fine dining, for he believes that the money he earns is only a means to an end for a more pleasurable and desirable life.

Career-wise, Adam has been almost as non-committal with his jobs as he is with his women, job-hopping through 3 jobs since he graduated from University with a Bachelor in Business. However, in most of his jobs, he is often held in high-regard by his bosses, not only because he is well-presented and make excellent presentations, he is also one to think very quickly on his feet and is able to generate ideas on-the-fly when it comes to marketing. Due to these reasons, his bosses often put him in the front line to meet up with the clients as they are confident that he can deliver his ideas convincingly and effectively. Adam is somewhat ambitious, and hopes to reach the top sooner rather than later, all in the name of making a better life for himself.

In his free time, when he is not out socializing or partying or working, Adam likes to spend some time alone at home, at his own bachelor pad. The nicely-coordinated glass and metal decor of his pad reflects his taste for sleek and minimalistic design, enhanced by some designer furniture pieces that he has collected over the years. His parents have retired overseas and he has little family here. A not-too-devout Christian, Adam doesn't particularly hold strongly to any particular set of beliefs or values. He spends time working out in his home-gym to keep in shape and look good; and is also an avid techno-phile as he believes in owning the latest technology, especially in consumer electronics such as HDTVs, hi-fi sets and game consoles, ESPECIALLY game consoles. All in all, Adam leads a rather balanced lifestyle where he nicely juggles work, pleasure and alone time.

Four Pleasure Analysis of Adam
  • Working out in his home-gym keeps him in shape and feeling good and healthy. - Need Pleasure
  • Loves to indulge in alcoholic cocktails when he is out for drinks to unwind. - Appreciation Pleasure
  • Relishes the pleasure of good food and fine wine when out on dinner dates, partially to satisfy his love for food and to gratify the taste buds. - Appreciation Pleasure.
  • Spending a quiet evening in his home appreciating the ambiance, look and atmosphere of his own apartment, over a book or a movie relaxes his mind and body. - Appreciation Pleasure


  • Enjoys the company of old friends and colleagues over drinks. - Appreciation Pleasure
  • Enjoys making new friends and interacting with new people through clubbing. - Appreciation Pleasure
  • Enjoys the thrill of the chase in dating, reinforces his beliefs of being attractive and desirable. - Need Pleasure.
  • Takes pleasure in knowing that he is recognized as "fashionable and well-dressed", by his friends and colleagues. - Appreciation Pleasure


  • Being good at his job gives Adam a sense of job-satisfaction. - Appreciation Pleasure.
  • Takes time alone at home watching movies and playing games to unwind from the pressure from his job and his hectic social schedule. - Need Pleasure
  • Games give Adam a sense of mastery and stimulation when he is playing them. - Appreciation Pleasure
  • Adam appreciates owning and fiddling with the latest technology, as it keeps him feeling fresh and trendy. - Appreciation Pleasure


  • Adam is ambitious in terms of career and wants to be seen as successful. - Need Pleasure.
  • He doesn't need to look socially sound, as he is secure enough on his own, but does like the image he portrays as being socially popular. - Appreciation Pleasure.
  • He wants to upkeep his image of being well-dressed and well-groomed. - Need Pleasure.
  • Appreciates things in accordance to his taste for the sleek and the minimalistic. - Appreciation Pleasure.
  • Takes joy in sourcing for an owning niche products that are unique and exclusive among his circle of friends, be in his choice in clothes, accessories or furniture. - Appreciation Pleasure.
  • Spends majority of his pay on enjoying life through food and goods, as it justifies the reason for him working hard, which reinforces his belief on earning money to enjoy a better life. - Need Pleasure.

Product Benefits Specification

  • Sleek exterior that looks good to use and nice to hold. (Physio-Pleasure/Appreciation)
  • Preferably some sort of designer / limited edition phone. (Socio-Pleasure/Appreciation)
  • Colour and style must compliment the young, fashion-forward, trendy look for a young executive. (Ideo-Pleasure/Need)
  • Must be technologically advance with cutting edge specs and innovative functions, such as touch screen design or (Psycho / Ideo- Pleasure/ Appreciation)
  • Must be able to support effective high-tech communication, such as 3G, lots of memory space.(Socio-Pleasure/Need)
  • Built-in camera for storing photos of contacts along with their numbers (especially the girls picked up from clubs). Especially useful if the camera is inclusive of flash for the dark club environment. (Socio-Pleasure/Need)
  • Would be best if it supports a platform to play games on so that Adam can play games on the go. (Psycho-Pleasure/ Need)

Recommended Phone:

LG Prada Phone:

  • Sleek in design, available in black and silver, light and slim exterior.
  • Designed under the Prada label, makes it a designer phone.
  • Technological advance touch screen display, with handwriting recognition.
  • Document viewer and Macromedia Flash UI.
  • Built-in 2M CMOS camera with LED flash.
  • Supports 3G technology with 8MB internal memory.
  • Music and Video Player.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

War and Peace

I LOVE Games so, in almost any situation, i would analogize (if there even is such a word) things in relation to games, whenever possible. And just so happens, this week's "reflection" is possible for me to do such a thing. So, I'll be blogging about both the Next-Gen Console WAR.
Is about one's thoughts afterwards, how it makes one feel, the image it portrays, the message it tells others about the owner's taste.
Nintendo Wii
  • Slim and compact.
  • Traditional Box shaped design.
  • Dull white and grey.
  • Wii-mote looks like a TV remote.
  • Designed to look non-threatening and "friendly" to casual gamers.
  • Games look fun to play using the Wii-mote and the motion-sensing technology.
  • Introduction of a lot of new type of gameplay possibilities with the motion-sensing technology.
  • Relatively weak from a graphical and technical standpoint.
  • People are still rather skeptical about the depth of these games, and might be too gimmicky.
  • Not that many games as of now, as a game system, it delivers the fun, but not really the depth or the variety yet. Maybe this will change in time to come.
  • Lack of online community at this point of time.
  • Says a lot about your self-image in owning one.
  • Willing to embrace innovation and fun.
  • Makes one feel "fresh" and look like their REALLY having fun.
  • Brand loyalty to Nintendo and its direction of reshaping the way people play games.
  • Distinctly different form of gameplay from every other console before it.
  • Great for showing off to casual gamers and non-gamers alike.
is about look and feel, the total experience of using a product - the physical pleasure and effectiveness of use.
Microsoft Xbox 360
  • White, curvy and sexy.
  • Green lights make the console look "cool."


  • As of now, the Xbox is where you get the most game for your buck.
  • Huge library, and quite a handful of AAA titles under its belt already.
  • Games offer both depth, gameplay and variety.
  • Graphically, it is VERY close or even better than the PS3 as of now.
  • You get the biggest and best online community services.
  • This is where the Xbox is the weakest.
  • Lacks the Playstation branding power, the lack of novelty of the Wii,
  • Been out for a year, and the "wow" factor of owning one is long gone, the Xbox 360 has silently infiltrated into the living rooms of gamers around the world... or not, and probably will never.
refer primarily to its intial impact, its appearance.
Sony Playstation 3
  • Black, silver or white.
  • Sleek & Sexy Exterior Design.
  • High-tech look and specs.
  • Graphics of games look gorgeous.


  • Top end specs, makes it the most technically powerful of the 3 next-gen consoles.
  • Additional functions like the Blu-ray player.
  • A graphical processing beast.

BUT... we are talking about a gaming console here. And as a game console, great perfomance = great gameplay experience = great games...

  • Limited and less than satisfying library.
  • Few of which make use of the innovative functions. Perhaps when the bigger titles are released things will change.
  • But as it is, its just quite a "glorified" Blu-ray player.
  • Online community not as established.


  • Playstation branding.
  • Latest Technology.
  • The image portrayed of owning one are that you're a lot about you're a techno-freak or just bloody rich.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

(Side)Talking Your Way Out of Bad Design

After a long hiatus, the cryptic vampire is back on cyberspace for another blogging assignment, or rather the start of another chain of digital writing. But of course, the context this time is VERY different. Out with games (damn!), and in with design, NM4210 User Experience Design to be specific. Oh well. The harsh reality of the academic life I guess.

Anyway, as a Warm-up Assignment, design-guru Reddy had us source out a badly design product, set-up a poor victim in using it, and capture the user's reaction to the product. From there, we, or I rather, am supposed to reflect upon it and blog about it.... and my product of choice: the ORIGINAL Nokia N-Gage. And the poor victim, my dear cousin, who's identity i will not disclose as to not have the world think her as an idiot.. (aww.. how sweet a cousin I am).

Back in 2004, Nokia released the original N-Gage to attempt to steal market share from the king of handhelds, the Nintendo Gameboy Advance, and tried selling the idea of multiplayer mobile games. Basically, to the technophile, the prospects of the device looked good as it was "a device that can serve as a mobile game platform, a tri-band GSM phone, an MP3 player, an FM tuner, an e-mail client, and a personal information manager." But being the game enthusiast that I am, I had my doubts about it as a game device and seriously doubted that it could penetrate the games market. Lo and Behold! 2 years later, Nokia is still not even considered a player in the handheld game market. But the reason for the N-gage's failure was due to a number of bad design choices made my Nokia. So, after much sourcing, I managed to source out and old N-gage and put it into the hands of my poor cousin.

Some things about my cousin. She plays games casually, but is far from being considered tech-savvy, hence, it would be great it put the N-Gage in her hands to gain a layman's perspective on the design of the phone. First, I had her try out a few games. Unexpectedly, she was quite entertained. Then I told her to try another game, and to do so, she had to change the game (MMC, the format on which the games are stored on).

She: "Hey, how do i change the game? I don't see any slot for inserting or ejecting cartridges?"

Me (refusing to divulge any info): "Well, you can try searching a bit more, I'm sure you'll find it eventually."

(She continues rotating the phone over and over, searching for some sort of cartridge slot but to no avail. Finally, she gives up and slams the phone on the table.)

Me: " Let me give you a hint. You have to remove the back cover."

(She quickly reaches out for the phone and remove the back cover.)

She: "What the? Who would know that the stupid slot is inside the damn phone? And i still have to take out the battery every time i wanna change the game. Isn't that just damn stupid?"

Design Flaw #1:
Well, my cousin is right, it IS damn stupid, and in actual fact, many critics of the N-gage actually point to this as a serious design flaw of the N-gage. Especially considering that in part, it attempts to be a handheld gaming console, gamers would probably wanna change games rather frequently, and shouldn't have to go through so much hassle to change a damn game, isn't it? Good work, Nokia.

Anyway, that is the lesser of the two main problems in the N-Gage. The second design flaw is a lot more serious, in my opinion, probably to the extent that it is slightly demeaning, perhaps.

Me: "Ok, now i want you to try to use this phone and call me."

She: "Hmm, ok, what's so hard about that?"

(She proceeds to dial my number and press the Intuitive Green Call button. Suddenly, she realizes something... there was no visible speaker or microphone on the top side of the phone, where all the buttons where. Instinctively, she flips the phone around to its backside, and still, no speaker or whatsoever. So, she starts examining the phone again. And finds two suspicious rectangles on the side of the phone.)

"Are these actually the speaker and the microphone?" She asks skeptically. I nod in response.

She: "You got to be kidding. How the hell do I hold the phone and speak into it? Like this?"

(She proceeds to hold the phone sideways with the screen-facing up.)

Me: "Yup! Welcome to the world of 'sidetalking.' Try it."

(I proceed to another room as we attempt to hold a short conversation.)

Me: "So, what do you think? Or rather how does "sidetalking" feel?"

She: "Uh. Stupid for sure. I mean, couldn't they have just designed the damn phone to be a little more, like, normal. I can imagine this doing wonders to your image if you were caught using your phone this way."

Design Flaw #2:
Indeed. "Sidetalking" was what really made the N-Gage infamous amongst the consumers. Not only did the critics cite the level of (dis)comfort associated with this choice of design, which Nokia states that "Sidetalking was there for a practical reason: if placed elsewhere, the screen would get in contact with the cheek and become smudged," (Bullshit! Aren't ALL conventional phones like this, anyway?), the whole image of "sidetalking" looked utterly RIDICULOUS. Don't believe me? Watch this

Ultimately, the Nokia N-Gage failed to achieve what it was supposed to do, hardly making a ripple in the handheld gaming market, due to the poor design and poor software line-up. Even though Nokia did try to rectify most of the design flaws of the original N-Gage with the N-gage QD the following year, the brand image of the N-gage as a gaming platform had probably already been tarnished, and like all other phones, its novelty value wore off after a while, and like all other phones, the N-gage became "just-another-phone."

Perhaps its for the better as well... after all I always believe that its much better to be focused on one aspect of focus for your product and to design your product around that aspect, and design it to accomodate the feature as well as possible, rather than try to aim to be a little bit of everything, and in the end, end up being nothing really. Guess that was the case for the N-gage, it sounded absolutely appealing on paper, like the be-all-end-all phone for its time, with so many functions in one phone, but in the end, it was a half-assed phone, and an even more half-assed game console.

R.I.P. sidetalking. You will NOT be missed.