Thanks for the excellent historical case study Conrad. It’s an object lesson in the art of introducing disruptive new technology.
In the Newton’s case, what it did was very exciting. Initially though, it had enough flaws that its principal purpose could get foiled.
TextBlade presents a different scenario, that has interesting qualities of its own.
The initial flaws were worked out with real users though the process of TREG. At this point, those have been resolved, and the experience is now pretty solid. Most users tell us we should release now.
But there’s another dimension here with TextBlade, which is very different from Newton. Newton was an adjunct, not your main computer. So it only had to do specific tasks well, and you could rely on your PC to do the rest.
But TextBlade has a different effect on users. Once they experience its advantages, many want to use it as the typing instrument for all their machines, across all their use cases. It transcends its portable utility, and is compelling in its own right. It’s viable as a principal keyboard on our desks, for everything we do.
This is the ambition we had hoped to achieve, and now it’s manifest. Users talk about this a lot. It’s not just a new accessory, it’s a reinvention of what a keyboard is.
But this also raises the bar. The burdens are far higher for disruptive new technology.
It means for example, fixing even what’s wrong with users’ own computers, so TextBlade works smoothly on all of them. These are not problems we (or any keyboard maker) were responsible for creating, but they nonetheless could interfere with enjoying this new power.
Examples include some unexpected scope to diagnose and fix widespread bugs with Bluetooth or USB3 ports on their tablets or PC’s. Or subtle filters that an OS may apply when keystrokes arrive too fast. We had to devise accommodations for the quirks across different machines.
We’ve provided extensive logs to the major vendors like Apple and Google to work through these issues, and they have both been fantastically cooperative. The latest releases of their OS’s are significantly improved, and now the experience is pretty smooth even on edge cases.
We also have the burden of goof-proofing the configuration of 6 slots for a user’s array of different machines. This involves new kinds of documentation and self-recovery automation. There’s lots more items beyond these examples, but the essence is that you have to address all the little friction points, even those not on your side of the fence.
That’s going well, and we’re grateful for how the major vendors have responded with their part of the process.
The potential to advance keyboards for mainstream users is quite large here. Supporting all those fine details users need is the work that drives mass adoption. When you do this well, a true platform shift emerges.
Pretty exciting what’s happening here.