Better With Use: A Defence Of The HTC One S
So a few of the early adopters to HTC's new One S have made complaints about the supposedly strong back casing being susceptible to damage, urging the company to make a response. The micro-arc oxidization process may give it a toughness similar to ceramic and a strength beyond the need for a phone case; but with any form of ceramic comes a brittleness to the construction. This has left the device exposed to chipping, leaving silver marks upon the section impacted upon.
I understand that disappointment will be felt when the hardware is fundamentally flawed, regardless of the severity of the issue (the iPhone 4 antennagate for instance). And as the durability of the One S is a feature that's rather heavily promoted in marketing surrounding the device, it's taken as a granted that some people will not be too chuffed about this.
Questionning the situation: where has the design paradigm of creating an item that gets better with use gone? Put simply, what happened to the idea of general wear and tear?
Is it a general public paranoia surrounding maintaining devices in perfect condition (Something which I'm guilty of myself at times)? Is it a product design ethic flaw, not taking the idea of usage into account? While everytime I thought into this initially leaned towards the fault of the companies, it's a more realistic conclusion to say that it is a mixture of these two possibilities.
There seems to be an integral relationship between the design of a product and how that product is used, and a few different elements come into this equation as well: price, materials used, reputation, look and feel. All key factors in establishing this aforementioned relationship, which over time individualises a product to you. The scratches on the mirrored back of an iPod, chips in the black paint of the GRiD COMPASS exposing the magnesium underneath, the cracks that form at the bottom corners of the plastic Macbook where the magnetic latches meet.
Some of the most memorable products to a person are those that age with you. And the HTC One S is a reminder of just that, even though the paint-chipping ageing is at a slightly accelerated rate (as said by owners of the phone). Things should get better with use, and while companies might hail the individualism of a product to be their millions spent in Research & Development to bring interaction design that feels uninterrupted by the surroundings of its own device, and case manufacturers will say it's to do with whatever silicon/plastic/bamboo/etc you cover it with; but the truth is the hardware should play a key part in this equation.
Manufacturers need to apply more thought into the design, and we need to remember that we shouldn't have to be enslaved by the fear of wear and tear to enjoy a product.