Interview with Jun Katsunuma, Sony Ericsson China
At the recent Sony Ericsson event in Shanghai, China, MAX-IT's Simon Tan was one of several Malaysian journalists who were given an opportunity to speak with Jun "Kats" Katsunuma, the Head of Creative Product Design, Sony Ericsson China. Katsunuma is responsible for product design as well as colour material design for the company's products worldwide.
Is structural integrity compromised with the addition of the transparent strip?
We have considered this issue, and it is totally fine. But it raises an interesting point: one of the design keywords for the Xperia S was “less is more”, and Smartphones usually consist of one rectangular block. The transparent strip adds to the design language of the Xperia S, hence the “more” part.
Why is the design limited to black and white?
We settled on black and white because this is the first product by Sony, and we are trying to make it the signature design. We were also trying to keep the design as simple as possible.
Why is the power button located on the left side, since it is usually on the right or centre?
Of course there are some limitations in terms of component layout, but when the power button is put on top, there is not much difference in usability in terms of positioning.
Can the user turn off the light on the transparent strip, or play around with the light?
No. We are trying to emphasize our design, and keeping it simple. Hence the simple colours and the simple animation on the body.
What is actually on the bottom part?
We have the antenna components, which the transparent strip is actually a part of. We realize that the design should not be just about appearance only.
Could you have made the transparent strip touch-sensitive?
Yes, but doing so it would lower the transparency of the strip. Normally with Smartphones of this size, users usually place their thumbs at the bottom, and having the touch sensor so close to the bottom would affect the user experience.
What about the icon design?
We created the new icons by ourselves, and we focus on detailed designs, which is great.
Will other phones in Sony’s NXT line follow the same design principles?
Sony products have simple, clean and strong designs, so I would say that this product design has some relation to the Sony design quality, and we try to design with simplicity in mind, and the Xperia S is the answer.
How did you feel when you first saw the finished Xperia S?
I feel like it is connected to the future.
Some other vendors like to focus on slimness. What do you think about going in that direction?
Actually, slimness is a great point for the mobile world. As you can see, this product is not so thick, and of course we have ideas to make slimmer products.
How about keeping the same form factor if you integrate a keyboard?
Of course we would be able to do that. But in my personal opinion, having QWERTY keys in this size does not make sense, since you need space to type. In terms of technology, we definitely can make it, but I think this is enough. Less is more.
Why is the back curved? Is it to accommodate the battery or internal components?
Of course we considered about the components, but we wanted to give the user a great feeling when using the phone, so we stuck to a simple shape. This in combination with the matte finish provides users with a comfortable user experience.
A lot of users like to put casings on their phone, but in the case of the Xperia S, wouldn’t that ruin the design, with the transparent strip and all?
I think it depends on what the users want. Even if you put a cover, you can see its colour through the transparent strip. Of course physically, the phone should be as simple as possible, but it all depends on what the users want.
Will you be designing official covers for the phone?
At this moment, no.