“One reason Asians and Europeans have high expectations for innovation and sexy designs when it comes to cell phones is that they live in densely populated countries and must rely on public transportation.
“If you spend an hour on the train every day, then you will want a cell phone with the latest functions,” says Franklin Chang, a research scientist who has worked in Germany and Japan. “If you are in your car, you aren’t going to be spending your time playing a game on your cell phone.”
This is an interesting notion from the point of view of product design. The degree of attention a user gives to the product determines the appeal of functionality, user interface and design. The iPod, which is held up as a classic example of design innovation and simplicity, spends most of its time in the user’s pocket. You don’t have to look at it to use it. A Treo, with its multiple functions, email, and browser, is designed to be stared and poked at. Great for a train rider, useless for an auto driver unless they have a death wish. Notebooks are generally touched all the time. One doesn’t play much off of them other than an occasional DVD on a plane trip. The rest of the time it’s mouse-mouse-mouse/type-type-type.
Anyway, interesting article on why European and Asian cultures tend to get more sophisticated and innovative gadgetry before Americans. Blame it on the car.