The Underappreciated Beauty of Simplicity in Tech

Simplicity is underappreciated. In many things. But most obviously right now in our world of consumer technology.

Simplicity is a requirement of mass adoption. Look at the iPhone, Google, Amazon, and Uber as examples: The iPhone never shipped with a manual. Turn it on. Press the screen with your finger. It just works. Google gives you a box with two buttons. Type what you’re looking for and hit enter. There’s your answer. Amazon lets you order anything you can imagine. Even with one click. Then it shows up on your doorstep a few days later. Even sooner with Prime. Uber: I’m here. Take me there. Ok, done.

None of these products has a learning curve. They’re dead simple to use and they just work. You can make similar arguments for Facebook, Twitter, and Airbnb. Probably not Snapchat, and perhaps that is their biggest weakness.

This isn’t to say that simple products don’t have extremely complex technical underpinnings. Almost no iPhone or Google user has any conception of the software that enables their seamless technology experiences. The part they touch makes the technology disappear.

In this new wave of innovation, technology seems to be embracing itself. Tech is cool. Tech is sexy. And it feels like we’re trying less to hide tech with ease of use. With a friendly, non-tech face. That’s a mistake. In the consumer world, AI, robotics, VR, AR, even cryptocurrency, none of these will see mass adoption without the same simplicity employed by the incumbent giants.

Simplicity is also underappreciated in investing. It’s easy to overthink things and build reasons why something can buck the reality of otherwise. We’re trying to employ the concept of simplicity in our investments. We’re not afraid to invest in complex tech, but when we do, we make sure the tech hides behind a friendly front that’s simple enough for mass adoption.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.