HP seems like they’re picking a fight with RIM over the similarities in UI design between the TouchPad and the PlayBook. Both tablets manage apps as cards, allowing you to swipe between them as they run in the background. Both tablets also have similar swipe gestures, allowing you to swipe apps off the screen. When both companies were asked to comment on the issue, things got pretty passive aggressive.
HP on the BlackBerry PlayBook. Jon Oakes, director of product marketing, TouchPad
From what we’ve seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities. It’s a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market, so we just know that we have the creative engine here to continue to build on what we have, and we’ll keep innovating, we’ll keep honing and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year.
RIM’s response. Jeff McDowell, senior vice president for business and platform marketing
I feel that we set out from the ground up to define a user experience that we felt would delight our customers, and we landed in a place that may look like other competitive devices. But there was no intention and no preconceived notion that this is what we want to end up looking like. In fact, I think QNX had that design lined up before we even started working with them.
You know, cars over time end up looking a lot alike because you put them through a wind tunnel, and when you’re trying to come up with the best coefficient to drag ratio, there’s one optimized shape that gets the best wind resistance, right? Well, when you’re trying to optimize user experience that juggles multitasking, multiple apps open at once and on a small screen, you’re going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs.
Jon comes across as pretentious while RIM’s McDowell takes the high road and points out the obvious answer: a lot of UIs look the same because they’re the right way to do it. Did every blog rip off the first blog’s formatting? No. It’s just that presenting content in that form makes the most sense. You could present your content in that way, or you could just go Gawker’s route and present it in some ass-backwards way that nobody wants to read. Same goes for a tablet UI.