There are MANY ways to get "Fewer Features, Not More"


Where did Bloom go? Why? And what does it teach us?

There are MANY ways to get "Fewer Features, Not More" /img/bloom-prototype.jpg

Bloom was “Tech Betting People Want Fewer Features, Not More”: “an always-on screen, a wearable band, and an app designed to work together to bridge the gap between generations and geographies.”

The co-founder and CEO of OrbitHCI, the company that proposed it, described Bloom as “a voice and wearable enabled Facebook + Fitbit + Lifeline for families with aging relatives.”

Basically, Bloom would create one closed social network for each extended family using it, based on screens that a senior citizen wearing an associated band “would set down in a room of his house, like the kitchen or living room. When the person wearing the band is close enough to see the display, a stream of recently captured photos appears on the screen, fed by family members using the Bloom app on their iOS or Android devices”.

Bloom looked big enough to interest Google Ventures and raise a $1 million seed round. Even BusinessWire reported about the coming smart devices that could “help older family members to stay better connected with their children and grandchildren”.

This, in May 2015. After that, one video on Vimeo a few months later and then NOTHING. Zero. Like countless other startups raised to reboot society, Bloom just disappeared in some black hole. There is no public mention of Bloom, or OrbitHCI, for that matter, after 2015.

Why did Bloom fail?

Nobody knows, because there is nothing about it. But let’s make some hypotheses. Bloom developers said their tests had found that “even families living 15 minutes away from each other, ended up using [Bloom] extensively, for both sharing and video calls”. Hmmm.

“Fewer Features, Not More”?

The OrbitHCI CEO said that “increasingly, the early adopter crowd drives what’s going on with technology and makes it more complexā€¯, thus creating the need also for something with “Fewer Features, Not More”.

Maybe that is where the plan was flawed. “Fewer Features Not More” is possible also by underutilizing something you already bought, or already received as a present. And then sticking to it until it physically breaks apart, which incidentally is way better for both the environment and personal finances than trashing perfectly working devices every second year, just because the industry wants so.

My obviously unproven guess is that the great majority of families found out, and still find, grandparents included, that all they need to “extensively” share pictures and “talk” among themselves is WhatsApp. Which is without doubts one of the stupidest, backwards digital products around. But it was already in their pocket. Why bother to pay other hardware to do the same things?

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