Consumer psychology and the keyboard

There is no part of the computer that we humans work with more intimately than the keyboard. It is the only part of the computer that we actively touch.

It is no stroke of fate that Microsoft rebranded the Start key as the “Win key” in 1995. The message, ingrained on an emotional, psychological, even kinesthetic level is that you “Start” with Windows.

Well, not necessarily.

You do have options.

These were the thoughts circulating through our company psyche at the time when we were working to build a keyboard with an Ubuntu key. It seemed so wrong to ship laptops and desktops with the Windows logo flying on the keyboard.

The Ubuntu Keyboard
The Ubuntu Keyboard

Note to companies that are considering whether or not to take this level of care with their keyboards, please remember this: Perception is important. It shapes everything we do. Properly labelling the keyboard is not that difficult to do. So what if it costs a teensy bit more per system. Cut costs elsewhere. Cut out the pop machines, just don’t overlook this embarrassing lack of attention to detail.

Whenever we are at conferences or trade shows and see Linux laptops and desktops giving “free advertising space to someone else” we point it out. Inevitably, the flabbergasted representative will blush and look around frantically for a small sticker. Any small sticker. A penguin, the Ubuntu logo, a piece of tape, it doesn’t matter.

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