a derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines.
On interaction design blogs there is a debate about the use of skeuomorphism in interface design, most of the criticism are referred to latest Apple IOS apps.
Dmitry Fadeyev argues that the use of skeuomorphism in interface design hampers innovation
I especially dislike the latest set of interfaces from Apple for the iPad. They look great, but they cling to the physical look far too much, losing the opportunity to create a fresh look in the process.
James Higgs finds a dichotomy between Apple minimalistic product design and the expression of purest kitsch found on many apps interface.
[...] how difficult can it be for someone, even a relative digital newcomer, to understand a list of books? Difficult enough that the only possible way they could understand it is to present them in a “wooden” bookshelf format?
It’s undeniable that the latest IOS apps push too much on physical world resemblance.
I personally dislike this manneristic approach, I don’t find it neither beautiful nor useful but I understand that Apple products are designed for a vast audience, iPhone and iPad are contributing in bringing on-line many digital illiterates. I believe for these users the use of skeuomorphism makes perfectly sense.
At the same time most of mobile apps are not used for mere productivity, they are considered tiny videogames to have fun with. From this point of view skeumorphic interfaces helps in setting the mood. For example if you use a music mixer on iPhone the real DJ consolle look and feel helps in setting the context. The same thing happens with iBooks, Reminders and many other apps. The same concept is gaining field on Mac computers with the introduction of the app store and other IOS elements.
Of course there are a lot of people using IOS devices in a productive way, the App store have plenty of options for them, just check the straightforward interface of Photoshop Express or the minimalist approach of Stanza, my favourite book reader.