Thom Hogan's article from 8 April, entitled: Price is the Problem? reiterates one of the many problems camera makers face: addressing the usability of their cameras. Advances in megapixels and benchmarkable performance metrics such as dynamic range and high ISO performance are not the iterative improvements camera users really need. Current silicon is more than capable. Thom recently essayed on that very topic.
Today's cameras should be all about interfaces that are understood from the outset. Where I disagree with Thom is regarding this point:
User programmability is the Achilles heal of great interfaces. Giving users too much control in how to use a camera puts too little pressure on camera makers to design simple, straight-forward interfaces from the outset. Basic parameters: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, AF buttons, should be uniform across a platform, and each function should be self-contained. A photographer shouldn't have to use one button to magnify whilst shooting and another to magnify whilst playing images back, a la A7/r/s, nor should she pick up a mate's Sony camera to take his picture and have to ask which control changes which parameter. And she shouldn't have to use two controls to adjust manual exposure and/or aperture as seen in Fujifilm's X cameras. A single parameter should be fully self contained, and, barring a revolution in software-driven utilitarian designs, the most basic controls should be standardised.
Thom is right, though. It is all about time. The older I get, the less I want, or need to dick around with opaque user interfaces. If I can't pick up your camera and instantly know how to use it, your design is bad. If your camera is a pain to use with industry-standard library managers such as Lightroom, your design is bad. Workflow and ease of use almost always trump complexity and technological prowess.
Over-reliance on user programmable interfaces is another sort of race to the bottom. If it were that important to user interfaces, there would be a single, logical move left: make every single button, ring, dial, and panel user programmable. The more the merrier.
Iterations in ISO and dynamic range are not features, especially when the silicon in your cameras comes from another vendor. And users of all tech understand that technology improves. It's a given that our iPhone 6 will outperform our iPhone 5. And it should be a given that the iPhone 6, or a new OS, will make the most-used tasks simpler.
More programmability, more buttons, and more complexity are not the answer.