Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

The race for perfect

Hamm, S. (2008). The race for perfect: inside the quest to design the ultimate portable computer. New York: McGraw-Hill.

An engaging tale of the product development process, this time following the developments in laptop computers, mostly focusing upon the efforts of the ThinkPad team from Lenovo to develop their lightweight X300 portable. Steve Hamm is a senior writer for Business Week, with good contacts and a good sense of drama. The book covers the aims and history of portables from Alan Kay's dream of the "Dynabook" through today. The story demonstrates that reality is very different from dreams, and the quest for perfection with the need to hit a product price and delivery schedule is daunting. The story also reveals much about the international nature of product development: Lenovo is a Chinese company, but the development team was in Beijing, Tokyo, and the United States (North Carolina).

Those of you who only know the product development process as taught in our universities will discover how different it really is once you get out into the real world. The book is a pretty accurate picture of the rough scramble that really takes place, and how brief the moment of victory, for no matter how good the result, the competition will match it immediately: the race never ends.

I was interested to see David Hill's review of the book on Amazon.com: He is VP of Design at Lenovo's Morrisville (North Carolina) site and he played a major role in the X300 development (and in the book). He liked it.

Pointer to the book at Amazon.com.

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