New Tech Sinks or Swims Based on Whims

Users react to devices in surprising ways, NYT scribe says
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2008 8:09 PM CST
A visitor looks at Hybrid Car "Prius" displayed at the Toyota Motor Corp's showroom, Toyota Mega Wave in Tokyo, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007. Toyota said Monday it sold 2.34 million vehicles globally in the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Innovations like the iPod and Prius usually require new user skills, and acceptance can depend on one's willingness to adapt, writes G. Pascal Zachary in the New York Times. “You throw technologies into the market and see what sticks,” he quotes one analyst as saying. Revolutionary stuff can sink, while tough-to-master can swim.

The 1970s PicturePhone, which provided an early video chat, “was superfluous, adding little information to voice alone,” says one scholar—so it failed. Yet Toyota’s Prius has succeeded despite unusual operation requirements; customers seem willing to learn if "they will save themselves and the planet." In the end, innovators can’t know what buyers will embrace, Zachary writes. They can only hope.