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Software and technology - just too damn hard to use

Following on from an excellent article by Stu over at fanboygeeks titled Prince Charles and those pesky DVDs I add this wee nugget from the Harvard Business School article Feature Bloat: The Product Manager's Dilemma:
As anyone who has bought a cell phone over the last couple of years can tell you, manufacturers love to cram as many capabilities into a product as possible—cell phones are now also cameras, music players, and game platforms. Why the rush toward "feature bloat"? Because consumers perceive value in this Swiss-Army-Knife approach and will pay for the added utility. The problem comes when the buyer actually starts to use the product. The increased complexity makes for a very unhappy consumer, who will look to return the product or look for another vendor in the future.

Interesting eh! We want it* to do oodles of things and will even gravitate to the one that has it all - and then we hate our lives because it's too cluttered and isn't usable.

And that's the key - it's not about the number features, it's about usability. If a product has 10 usable features it's gonna make my life sweet. If, however, a product has 3 unusable features I am hating the world and ranting against the manufacturer.

Microsoft Word has a gazillion features and I find about 20 of them useful/usable (there is a difference). Google Docs has much less than a gazillion and I find about 20 of them useful/usable. In essence they do the same for me but one feels "lighter" than the other.
However, if I was going to pay $$$s for them I would probably lean towards Microsoft Word ... who knows when I might need to use feature 'x' and I certainly don't want to have to spend time/money downloading it, I want it when I want it.

In the world of $0 cost online software that anticipated risk no longer exists and I then make a more reasoned choice of, "What do I want now?" as it's got no cost to discover 'feature x'. Only if you discount time as a cost and that's probably where most people differ to myself - I am adept at using the Web for finding 'feature x' whereas the majority just can't be arsed and want it at their fingertips (even through they don't really).

Strange greedy world we contribute to, isn't it?

* it = software, cars, mobile phones, DVDs, TV ... almost anything with a central processor unit ("chip") in it