“You’ve read the same exciting story about design for years. As it goes, corporate America recognizes design as a point of difference, a sales edge, an emotional connection to buyers. And buyers recognize design as fashion, coolness, lifestyle. ‘The big D,’ as Bruce Claxton, a designer, called it,” William L. Hamilton writes for The New York Times.
“Companies like Apple Computer exemplified both sides of the thinking. With a series of highly design-conscious introductions like the candy-colored iMac and the milk-white iBook – products with looks that had the hummability of pop songs – Apple set itself apart. And consumers responded as a cult, which grew, culminating in the iPod, the personal music player, which quadrupled the company’s first-quarter profit this year and increased Apple’s revenue by 74 percent,” Hamilton writes.
“But the design excitement last week in Apple’s latest introductions, the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle, was not in the Mini’s small simple box or the Shuffle’s stick-of-gum wand. It was in the prices: $499 and $99,” Hamilton writes. “In a conversation on Monday, Jonathan Ive, the company’s vice president for industrial design, described Apple’s newest generation of designs less by how they look than what he termed ‘a whole new level of access to the product.'”
Hamilton writes, “This was not Apple’s traditional design card, played at a premium for its core audience, a group that an editorial in The Times on Jan. 13 about Apple’s move toward the mainstream called ‘the lonely elite’ (a phrase that despite the media buzz still adequately describes most of the interest in design). The important feature of Apple’s new designs was the price, not design as something you could not live without but, paradoxically, design as something you might finally be able to live with. Does design, too, have to think different now? As Apple reaches for a mass market, as yet out of hand, is it dropping the ball on design?”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Mac mini and iPod shuffle, like all of their current products, represent clean minimalism. The exterior of Apple’s hardware is easy on the eyes and evokes the ease-of-use of Apple’s software designs. Because Apple is the only company that delivers the whole widget – the hardware, operating system, and software applications – Apple is the only company that can deliver a seamless experience to the mass of personal computer users. Apple is not dropping the ball on design, they are taking it to a whole new level.