Scott Weiss, the author of Handheld Usability (the book and blog), recently posted the results of a survey of over 800 New Yorkers on the importance of several factors when considering the purchase of a new phone. Weiss notes that the survey respondents value mobile ease-of-use 3 to 2 over appearance. “The finding is astounding, because it shatters the commonly-held believe that appearance is more important to consumers than usability”, he writes. After ease-of-use respondents considered appearance, internet access, MP3 player capabilities and mobile television features, in that order. Weiss adds, “the highest percentage of respondents (33%) rated Mobile Television Features and MP3 Player Capabilities as Neither Important nor Unimportant in their mobile phone purchase decisions”.

While I agree with his ultimate conclusion — that usability is a big deal and ease-of-use should be a goal of all handset manufacturers — I question drawing that conclusion based on the survey information provided.

In my professional experience survey participants frequently say thi