Form follows function — or fancy?

Kube2 MP3 playerI’m reading the Walter Isaacson bio of Steve Jobs, and it leads me to wonder about the new Kube2 MP3 player from Bluetree Electronics.  (And what the heck is going on with all the “blue” company names? Maybe that’s another post.) The device, dubbed the world’s smallest touch MP3 player, will be introduced at CES in January. It’s a tiny cube-shaped block that can have a custom skin wrapped around it. It definitely has a certain coolness level. But you have to wonder about using it.

Personally, the last thing I want to carry in my pocket is a chunk of metal and glass in the shape of a cube. It sounds uncomfortable. I think my keys or coins would trash it before I finished the first playlist. With a surface area so small, how big a pain is it to select a song or a podcast? How hard is it to read the name of what you’re trying to play?

Needless to say, Apple has been making its tiny iPod Shuffle for years, and I know many people who find the experience of using it frustrating just because of its small size. If that’s true, then what’s the Kube2 going to feel like?

Plus, the Shuffle and the Nano are both flat. Which means you can clip them to your clothing, wear them as a watch, or slip them comfortably into a pocket. What do you do with the Kube2? Drop it into your purse?

Steve Jobs obsessed over designing his NeXT computer as a perfect cube —  to the point of making it almost impossible to manufacturer. It was a tragic case of form ignoring function and helping to drive its price into the stratosphere.This little gadget isn’t a perfect cube and doesn’t look like the product of obsession. But it does look like a cute visual trick that will get a little notice — and disappear.

I’d love to know what  you think about it. Leave a comment, and let’s talk.

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