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How Dumb Can a "Wizard" Get?

The BlackBerry Curve smartphone (warning, annoying animated intro) looks great, but the software inside it doesn't seem to be terribly bright. The trouble started when I first turned it on, and was greeted by a 13-screen "Setup Wizard" that warned me upfront that it would need "approximately 10 minutes" of my time.

How can setting up a cell phone get that complicated? Follow along with me:

* Screen 1: It's just some introductory verbiage, followed by a "Next" button.
* 2: Here I select a display language.
* 3: To have unwanted languages deleted from the device, leave them unselected in this screen's list.
* 4: Select an input language. (Because I don't know about you, but I like to type in French but read menus and dialog boxes in Spanish.)
* 5: Set your time zone (why is it defaulted to Caracas, Venezuela? Why can't it set its clock automatically from the wireless network signal, anyway?).
* 6: Explains that the "Send" key lets you call somebody, the Menu key opens the menu, the Escape key exits a screen or goes back one page, and the End key ends a call. (Thanks, I never would have figured that out on my own.)
* 7: Explains the functions of a few other function keys you've probably never seen or used before: Symbol, Alt, Left Shift, Right Shift.
* 8: "These keys help you to type.
Backspace/Delete key
Enter key"
* 9: Finally, something useful: Do you want to copy any phone numbers stored on the phone's SIM card into the BlackBerry's main address book?
* 10: Type your name.
* 11: Select a font (not that any of the choices look much nicer or clearer than the others) and turn on font smoothing if you want (good idea).
* 12: Select your type of e-mail setup--BlackBerry Enterprise Server (only applicable in office systems), or skip email setup (meaning you'll set up your e-mail account later).
* 13: Almost done... except you're not. Clicking the "Next" button takes you to a "Shortcuts" page with more tips, followed by two "Did you know?" pages with more tips, followed by a real "Finish" page.

I've seen a lot of stupid wizard-type interfaces before--Windows has gotten so polluted with the things that Microsoft, itself responsible for some of the worst examples in the genre, now has to remind developers that they don't need to shove a wizard in front of every picayune little procedure. But Research In Motion's wizard is so bad, it might as well be a parody of the form.

When I see cell-phone interfaces as brain-dead as this, I can understand why people might be so gleefully excited about the prospect of the iPhone. We might finally have a phone from a company that actually knows something about good interface design and assumes its customers are neither clueless dolts nor mad scientists.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 20, 2007; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  Gripes  
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"How Dumb Can a Wizard Get?"

Is a basketball reference appropriate here? Perhaps a crossover blog with Dan Steinberg is in order.

Posted by: Kim | June 20, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"How can setting up a cell phone get that complicated?"

Interesting to see this after having read the review in Salon of the Jitterbug.

Posted by: wiredog | June 20, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Your detailed and comprehensive article on the complexities of that crazy phone should be engraved in marble and mounted over the doors of the marketing dept. of every tekkie manufacturer. Superbly acid. How about someone trying to call 911 because their house is on fire?

Posted by: Charlie Griffith, | June 24, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Superbly acid. How about someone trying to call 911 because their house is on fire?
....Charlie Griffith (aged to 75).

Posted by: Charlie Griffith, | June 24, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"assumes its customers are neither clueless dolts nor mad scientists."

You mean assumes its customers are different to the designers?

Posted by: Mike | June 25, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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