Limits of Patience

Should we meet on Google, Teams or Zoom?  Do you have access to a Google drive, or Box, or the Cloud?  Are you on Windows or Mac?  Which version of Windows or the Mac OS?  Which version of Chrome, Explorer or Safari are you using? 

These questions are akin to asking me which cell phone towers am I currently using in my neighborhood.  What is the source of the electrons flowing through my electrical outlets at the moment?  Why do I need to know answers to all these questions?

It is all about competition.  Every provider needs equal opportunities to meet your needs. Every vendor at the farmers’ market needs equal opportunities to sell you tomatoes, green beans, or zucchini.  This requires that you understand differences among vendors, how they plant and cultivate their crops.

Alternatively, I head to the grocery store to buy the Amy’s Bowl of tomatoes, green beans, and zucchini, with pasta and pesto.  Cooking only requires four minutes in the microwave and only taxes my diet with 300 calories.  Amy does not even require that I know the make of the microwave.

There is a wide range of things I do not want to know, things with which I have limited patience.  Idiosyncratic interfaces in automobiles, appliances, and televisions are great examples where meaningless variety is frustrating.  Getting into a rental car and not being able to figure out how to turn off the radio is a great example.  Not being able to change TV channels in a hotel room is another.

Ideally, I would be able to use my iPhone to do everything from rental cars to hotels, to medical appointments and retail shopping.  I like the idea of one user interface that I know how to operate.  Others will argue that this will limit competition and innovation, but it also means that millions of people will not be spending considerable time trying to figure out somebody’s bright idea.

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