When less is more

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Last month Indian industrial designer, Saikat Biswas, released the Holga D—a low-cost concept for a digital camera—onto the Internet. The Holga D is a concept for a digital camera born from the popular medium format analogue cameras made in China. The new concept has generated a lot of buzz across the Internet since its release. None of that is unusual. Creative camera concepts with interesting, new technologies are popular topics on tech blogs and ground-breaking ideas will always garner attention.

Where things start getting unusual is when you start reading about the camera’s features. There are no manual aperture or shutter controls. The camera uses what is referred to as “last-generation” technologies to allow for greater “inaccuracies.” There isn’t even a display in the back of the camera to see what you’ve taken pictures of! Biswas proudly states, “The biggest ‘feature’ of the Holga D is lack of features!”

At first one might think this is simply another exercise in minimalist design—a concept to remain on the cutting room floor, with no real-world implications. But according to Biswas’ blog the camera concept has quickly become an internet sensation. The story was picked up by blogs and internet news sites like Minimalissimo, Engadget, signal vs. noise and Wired. The BBC ran a story on the concept as well. Saikat Biswas’ own site traffic shot up from a measly 50 visitors a day to over 12,000 daily!

There is clearly something to the concept that less is more. In this case, not everyone is (or wants to be) Ansel Adams with a camera. Many lack the patience to sit with a top-of-the-line camera—with its myriad features that require complex set ups and actions before you can even consider taking a picture! Nor does everyone necessarily have the knowledge required to work such a camera. For the casual photographer, sometimes all you really need is a lens, a shutter and an intriguing subject.

Doing one thing brilliantly will always trump doing several things shoddily. By imposing constraints on the features of his camera, Saikat Biswas created something that has captured the imagination of thousands of people across the internet. What are some other products or services that limit features to generate success?

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