Why can't cell phones be more like my cast-iron frying pan?

Jason Kottke’s pretty happy with his recently lobotomized cell phone. It lost its display, but it’s actually still useful as a phone and he doesn’t have to buy a new one.

When my Startac died last year, I bought another, used one from somebody on Craigslist for $50. Now, the Startac is a modern marvel of boneheaded UI design, but it works pretty well and I can find the buttons without trying too hard. The last couple of times I visited my local cell phone store I couldn’t find one that didn’t just plain suck. They all seemed to be designed for Japanese schoolgirls or Norwegian Starbucks clerks. And even the expensive ones feel cheap.

Simplicity and quality enhance our experience more than features. They’re why I bought an iPod. Simplicity and quality are also a lot more expensive than they need to be, probably because they’re not what most buyers are looking for. But sometimes you can get them for practically nothing, which is why I love my $10 cast-iron frying pan.

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