When does Feature Creep Hit?… the iPhone

Feature creep, the swiss army knife effect, Ockhams Razor. Call it what you will. They all discuss the same thing – simplicity – the fact that the simpler and more elegant solution probably wins.

So what is the threshold, or tipping point, for feature creep? How is it measured? When does a tool begin to lose its utility due to an overload of function?

When the iPhone was first launched is had 18 (?) applications. There was no third party application store and firmware updates were to fix first generation bugs. Jump ahead ~18 months and we have pages of applications and Firmware 2.2 releasing mere weeks after 2.1. Looking through the App Store, I see over half a dozen instant message applications, more RSS feaders than there would be sites in my own, and multiple applications offering the desired copy and paste function. The firmwar updates are now adding features to keep up with the market, on top of their functional advances. So when does this overabundance finally hit the point where the iPhone is no longer graceful in its function and it is instead another clunk tool? I recently came across the sit of http://pleasefixtheiphone.com/ Many of the requests are known and have been addressed, or at least acknowledged, by Apple(notorious copy and paste push, camera quality.) Others simply cause me to shake my head and wonder. Feature requests range from drop down menus to zooming into video playback, to being able to use the iPhone as anything and everything under the sun.

This makes me think of the story “if you give a mouse a cookie”. Well, Apple has opened pandoras box with the AppStore allowing third party developers to fill the gaps Apple is leaving open. Some Apps have been refused only to appear in a Firmware update. That leads to the main question of when should a feature make the leap from third party development to a native feature? When does Apple daw the line and what will set the iPhone apart from Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices when that time comes?

So I do not offer a solution here. I only ask the question that feature creep is about as unavoidable as Kleenex being synonymous with tissues and when it happens, how do you keep your product separate from the mass?

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