Wednesday, August 03, 2005



The Mighty Mouse: Bill Palmer Has It Right

Today, Bill Palmer published a wonderful editorial reaction to Apple's launch of its Mighty Mouse product, one with which I wholeheartedly agree.

You see, I'm a 2-button mouse builder who actually agrees with everything Bill stated in today's article. I actually use Apple 1-button mice on all of my personal Macs, despite having the number one selling USB and Bluetooth multi-button mice in my own product line. Why?

1. I actually am not too lazy to occasionally lift my left arm and press the "Control" key on my keyboard. in fact, it's a minor joy to do so from time to time, to avoid developing a tennis player-like asymmetry between the musculature of my arms. I mean, even my left arm deserves a tiny bit of activity from time to time, doesn't it?

2. I'm sloppy. Yep... there's an admission for you. I am an unprecise, vague, bad-aim kind of guy when it comes to fine finger dexterity... a real klutz. With a 1-button mouse, 100% of its top real estate is sitting there forgivingly to let me use the grossest, completely misaimed hand gestures to render a click. Only when I completely miss the mouse is there a problem.

3. I never, ever have to be even subtly aware that my mouse is "there." The mouse merely becomes an extension of my hand. No distracting higher thought process is needed to operate my Mac with a 1-button mouse. Need something clicked?... just repeat the same autonomic motion I've executed a billion times over the past 21-years. Tap. Job done... sort of like breathing. Same thing for when those rare moments arise where I need for my left index finger to tap the Control key. Tap. Job done.

4. I don't "game" on my Mac. However, I have a wonderful PSP and a Playstation 2, with excellent handheld controllers for the latter. I guess I don't buy into the idea that I should try to force my Mac into being a gaming machine, then complain and whine about why it is never as good at the task as a dedicated gaming console. I also don't want to live through the majority of times I use my Mac as a desktop computer, suffering the use of a hideously complicated "mouse" just to accommodate those rare moments when I might choose to use the Mac as a surrogate gaming console. If that were the case, I think I might be bright enough to (A) use my 1-button mouse for computing, and (B) invest into buying an appropriately complex mouse to use just for gaming. However, most "gamers" have seemed to overlook that amazingly simple solution.

I appreciate the challenge Bill makes in his article to what is often promoted as conventional mousing wisdom. The Apple User Interface is about a "less is more" approach. And, the geek-boys of the world always seem to be screaming more, more, more. I especially appreciate his observation about mouse makers giving equal prominence to both left and right buttons. His idea runs along the lines of a couple of prototype designs we have been working on here that actually eschew that convention, albeit not as cleverly as Apple's Mighty Mouse has done. If Apple's new product finds some substantial sales success, we may just bring one of these additional mouse designs to market, as well.

Thanks Bill (as usual) for standing for the more practical, if less "hip" interpretation of the Apple experience, and publishing the truth about matters. I hope your home address is well hidden, to keep your front lawn from being repeatedly rolled by vans full of florid-faced geeks.