Dave Collins makes an excellent point regarding consumer electronics:
> > In the case of stereo equipment, the companies are still jockeying for > position, and whether they like it or not, the interface to their device > is still strongly perceived by the user to *be* the device. Thus it is a > valid place for (their marketing division to feel that) innovation in > this area gives them that edge - whether or not it really benefits the > user in the larger picture.
>From my experience working at Philips, I would agree that CE companies view the UI as a "feature" they make distinguish their products from others. The
digital TVs that I worked on were the first products to feature an on-screen
menu in which the nodes in a hierarchy are "balls" along graphic lines or
pipes that expand or contract as the selector or "puck" moves up/down or
left/right along the lines. This was marketed as the "UI Puck" interface --
internally it was called "UI 98," but that got cold when it didn't make it
to a product until 2001 ;-)
In some ways, though, CE companies are forced to adopt different approaches
because of patents. I'm suddenly drawing a blank on its name, the company
headed by Henry Yuan now owned by TV Guide has a very solid "lock" on the
familiar format of the electronic program guide you see in every cable and
satellite box. Any TV or DVR incorporating this table-like approach pays a
license for it.
I was also told that a competitor had a strong patent on representing volume
control as a series of rectangles growing from left to right as the volume
is increased. I don't recall the visual details of which representation was
covered, but much ingenuity was expended on avoiding the issue by such
stratagems as adding hollow boxes around the squares, or making them
increment with every third button-push rather than after each one, and the
This sort of thing makes standardization more difficult!