Lifehacker has a (very old) ode to the standard binder clip as an office omnitool, lauding its ability to adapt to an impressive number of uses. And that brings up an interesting design goal, which might be called "design for versatility." With this goal, it's not about optimizing a single use, but keeping the design so basic - that is, free from application-specific features - that its few general features can be used in many situations. An analogue would be the paper clip: it may be possible to improve the design of the traditional wire paperclip. But would it then lose the ability to be used as a general-purpose wire, a pin to eject stuck optical drives and iPhone SIM cards, and MacGyver's multitool. Sometimes it's better to design several "products" pretty well than a single product perfectly?
Mark Hurst posted this message from an anonymous employee of Blackberry maker RIM, sent to the heads of that company: "We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice -- the end user doesn't care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren't hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work." It's true - the user doesn't care about your strategic alignments, partnerships, or IT-friendliness. User experience trumps it all, and results in something even better than demand for your product - love for your product!
See What You Print. The printer has a display that matches the 8.5x11" paper, and shows exactly what to expect on the page after you print. It even "slides" the paper out of the display and into the tray as it's printed. It makes sense, and is something that's only recently become feasible with lower-cost LCDs. Now that the technology is there, it's time for design to catch up!
"Butter! Better!" design speaks for itself, showing how the lid doubles as a spreading knife. The question is, do we really need this? More plastic used for an (arguably) inferior usage experience? Making things convenient but disposable isn't always "better" - but for this one, I suppose each user can decide on his own...