Hidden antennas and other cultural norms

I recently designed a product which had an antenna, and the response to it was quite insightful.

Everyone who saw the prototype didn’t like the antenna being visible.

Back in the mid-90s most mobile phones had chunky antennas visible, but these have disappeared on modern phones.

Around 5 years ago it was fairly common to see a new car with a visible antenna for the radio. Nowadays it’s very rare.

The visible antenna has become extinct. Antennas are now hidden away out of sight.

This is driven by customer expectations. It’s interesting to think what other cultural norms there are which effect the design of objects.

  1. Keypad on a mobile phone = rubbish.
  2. Removable batteries = rubbish.

I think these are definitely on the brink of extinction:

  1. Optical disk drives = rubbish.
  2. No internet connection = rubbish.

And I hope these soon become cultural norms:

  1. Too much packaging = rubbish.
  2. Non recyclable = rubbish.

If you design a product with one of these features, then it doesn’t matter how good the product is, it risks being seen as irrelevant or plain uncool by consumers.