How do Apple's designs affect consumers?

Apple has always been a company known for design; not just design, but even the most loathing Apple hater will have to admit at some time that the company does make some pretty well thought out products. Robert Brunner over at Fast Company has written an interesting blog post about Apple's design, and how other companies attempt to replicate it, sometimes producing a bad result for the end user.

Brunner has said, "Here's the gist: Apple has been so successful in design, that to many people if something does not resemble an iPhone, iPod, MacBook, etc., it is not 'good design.' If it is not an uber-simple, highly-rationalized, single-buttoned, machined-from-a-solid-block-of aluminum thing, it can't be good, right? It's become a pretty common undertone in articles, reviews, blogs, and user commentary. Sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. But the overall message is there: If you don't do it like Apple, you are not practicing 'good design.' You'll notice that there is a fair number of companies that do try to copy Apple; though people could argue that they do not innovate in features, it would be hard to say that they don't produce ones that are dead simple to use, whilst looking good in the process.

TUAW raises an interesting question, though: "Has Apple's definition of good design skewed consumer perception?" Apple's generally successful design have, as mentioned, lead to other companies trying to follow suit; they have done their best to create simple, and beautiful devices or software. This has also carried over to the naming of products... you can certainly find a fair few products that begin with an "i" around the market now, that aren't just from Apple. Have the boys and girls over at Cupertino really changed customer perspective of good design, though? That it probably a matter of taste, really. Although, when a company can make a product that leads others to take hints from design and naming conventions, perhaps it's more of Apple changing business perspectives, not consumer ones. Apple's App Store has certainly lead to other companies creating their own iterations of the service; that is hard to deny.

Brunner references the quote, "Be yourself -- just be a good one." A product does not have to be simple and elegant in order for it to succeed. We're interested in hearing what you guys have to say... do you think Apple has changed the way products should look and feel, or are they irrelevant and others are at the forefront of usability?

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I am new to Macs. Before that I would buy a plain whitebox case and stuff it full of part. I like the look of Macs better but they lack the ability to customize. Apple people are always on the defensive because people who never used a Mac talk smack about a computer they never used. I know I used to be one and would call a Macintosh a Crapintosh by Fisher Price. I would talk smack about them all the time. But after they switched to Intel I installed OS 10 on a non-Apple and fell in love. No DLLs, No registry, Power of Unix, Ability to boot from external drives at will. Ability to take one completely different Mac and boot its install on another system as if it was the one it was running on. So what I mean. Smash your MacBook. Remove the drive. Put the drive in an external case. Hook it up to any other Mac and boot. It doesn't know the difference, it doesn't care. All your programs still there.

every 'Apple' kind of person i know is conformist in one way or another at varying degrees... for me to see them as conformist implies that i am not myself, and by extension i do not like Apple... and i dont...

Design is not skin deep, and many consumers and most companies copying them don't get that. (I would say the Pre is a much cheaper knockoff but generally gets it; the Zunes haven't aped Apple's externals but have aped their design processes, etc...) There are tons of attempts to copy Apple's design on the outside that don't carry through.

Remember when Dell first copied the G4 case with clamshells, but they had to do it with 2 release buttons and one was on the BOTTOM of the tower. That's attempting to copy Apple design, not getting it, and failing miserably.

I see where this article is coming from.

It is all down to personal preference, I like the iPhone because it does everything I need.
(not getting the new one as the Compass and the voice control and somethign else n something are all minor changes)

Rubbish and pointless. It is almost like you should skip the in between iPhone. Buy like this 1st gen - 3rd gen - 5th gen or 2nd gen, 4th gen, 6th gen etc

Software design behind the iPhone is what makes it. Idea of mobile phone when it first came out, was to get to where you wanted to be in as little button pushes as possible. A lot of phones forgot that design feature until the iPhone was released. As phones became more complicated, so did the software running them. Windows mobile is big example here. But it took the iPhone to push them to get there act together and make there software better. Win mo 7 looks great and that is way it should be.

For design features you need companies to create stuff and make it simple even if it is just using features that where already created by someone else. Look at the amount of touch screen phones there has been since the iPhone? look at how many have been trying to compete with iPhone?

At the end of the day I would never buy a device based on who makes it. I would buy any kind of device as long as I enjoy its features and it works. That is something people for get now days. Personal choice is the way to go. Dell laptops, Windows 7, iPhone, Blackberry bold. Wide range of tech there for me.

I'm crazy about Microsoft, but I have to admit that Apple changed the way world is thinking. However, Apple couldn't complete it's success, 'cause they think that they will collect all people in their box to let them stay for their whole lives. Because of that I like to live a life without walls. Apple will not grow up. They will still thinking that they are the best, but unfortunately that's completely wrong. If Apple wants to be the best, they have to focus on the consumer first before the quality, because at the end their products will not stay beside them. The consumer will take them. They have to fit the life not to let the life fit their box.

Never had a problem with Apple's designs....it was always the price I had an issue with and their attitude. And its sad companies are trying to copy Apple. It limits creativity and innovation for something new and possibly better.

make me wanna puke...they try to make it look cool on the surface but under hte skin its all the same stuff...you just pay lots more for the look..and don't even get me started on their crappy customer service..sure..i love the o/s that they make..its fantastic but the hardware is crap

People who think if product isn't like apple is a bad design then they have no creative or design sense whatsoever and should keep it to themselfs that's just being lethargic at it's best. It's people who think that way make up this kind of garbage. Yes it has skeward peoples thoughts and creativity which promotes dull people trying to rip off the design style accordingly and doing terrible at it. It's as ASUS CEO said, they tend to spend more on products and innovation themselfs then on marketing where as Apple is the otherway they make rubbish products and spend millions of marketing and design which is terrible idea but it's like trolling and fishing at the end of the day so many people get caught up in the idea, design, look whatever more then the product itself.

What a load... Apple spend way more on R&D that Asus, and most other countries. And lets compare Apple campaigns, to Microsoft billion dollar campaigns? You are so ignorant I am surprised your head hasn't fallen off.

Anarkii said,
* effect not affect :P

effect is having the effect of something. affect is something that affects a person. probably americanized english.. can be used either way really.

I like Apple's product design a lot, they really know how to make things look classy. But sacrificing performance and usability for looks is no excuse, and their newest line of MacBooks definitely show that. How hard is it to add in an SD card slot along side an ExpressCard slot? Seriously, I just don't understand why they insist on cheaping out on important features for no apparent reason. Maybe once they make something that's actually competitive with a lot of the other PCs, their exorbitant pricing scheme won't seem too bad.

cakesy said,
If you had it your way, they would probably still have floppy drives... I bet you are still bitter about that?

What? SD cards and ExpressCards aren't even comparable. They're completely different. Why are you comparing them?

cakesy said,
If you had it your way, they would probably still have floppy drives... I bet you are still bitter about that?

omg. floppy drives are obsolete...SD cards totally are not. What a comparison...

Has Apple's definition of good design skewed consumer perception?
One would think that Apple has raised the bar for elegance in technology, which is a good thing.

LiGht07 said,
Has Apple's definition of good design skewed consumer perception?
One would think that Apple has raised the bar for elegance in technology, which is a good thing.


Yes like the original iMac that was modeled after a clothing Iron. Brilliant - find a cute product that most people don't know about, replicate the design or function, then use marketing to tell the world they did it first and are the best at it...

Remember the 'first 64bit computer' ads that the UK made them pull? And OS X still is a 32bit OS ironically?

Remember the PowerPC ads calling it the first desktop supercomputer, which even IBM refuted, and they know something about the PowerPC CPU.

Remember the iPod and how they were the first to do it 'right', yet many people like myself had a Creative MP3 player that was 4 years old, had better sound, more storage and more features...


Apple has freaking awesome marketing... as for 'elegance in technology' they fail...

It is just too bad the companies they screwed over or that did offer 'elegance' to technology didn't have Apple's mareketing company that will go for th throat and even dip into NLP practices that other advertisers even refrain from using as they are considered unethical and borderline illegal.

Heck iPod and iTunes, the pioneers of digital media and online media stores, right? Not really, there were several that were around before iTunes and many many MP3 devices around before the iPod, and they didn't lock people into buying from just their store and using just their software to load music on the devices...

I wonder if people would pay to smell the chairs of the Apple designers sometimes... Actually, if Apple Marketing gets involved, everyone probably would, as it would be the cool and hip thing to do. Move over AXE body spray, Apple iASS is just more trendy...

Geesh...

Apple has been so successful in design, that to many people if something does not resemble an iPhone, iPod, MacBook, etc., it is not 'good design.'
These are known as people who cannot think for themselves. There are many designs that are superior to Apple's (and many that are not) but not being an Apple clone simply makes a product unique - not a failure.

You'll notice that there is a fair number of companies that do try to copy Apple
And I am sure Steve & Company are flattered (what's that they say about immitation and flattery?). However, any company or brand that copies Apple is beyond pitiful for two reasons. First, they clearly have no original concept or idea. No ceativity. And secondly, they are relying on the successful image and design that another company spent a fortune to create in order to move product.

When I was shopping for MP3 players the only one that caught my eye was Cowon's iAudio. It had everything I needed, a design superior to iPod, and a reasonable price. The problem was I didn't want to support a company that relied on the iName scheme to sell their product. Is it really that difficult to come up with a unique name? Why piggyback on Apple's ides?

Apple's designs are good for Apple. But if a competitor can't come up with their own name, their own style, their own design then I don't have a lot of faith in their product.

Here's an experiment. Let's see how many people look at Dell's new Studio One and see an iMac? Seriously.

C_Guy said,
Apple has been so successful in design, that to many people if something does not resemble an iPhone, iPod, MacBook, etc., it is not 'good design.'
These are known as people who cannot think for themselves. There are many designs that are superior to Apple's (and many that are not) but not being an Apple clone simply makes a product unique - not a failure.

You'll notice that there is a fair number of companies that do try to copy Apple
And I am sure Steve & Company are flattered (what's that they say about immitation and flattery?). However, any company or brand that copies Apple is beyond pitiful for two reasons. First, they clearly have no original concept or idea. No ceativity. And secondly, they are relying on the successful image and design that another company spent a fortune to create in order to move product.

When I was shopping for MP3 players the only one that caught my eye was Cowon's iAudio. It had everything I needed, a design superior to iPod, and a reasonable price. The problem was I didn't want to support a company that relied on the iName scheme to sell their product. Is it really that difficult to come up with a unique name? Why piggyback on Apple's ides?

Apple's designs are good for Apple. But if a competitor can't come up with their own name, their own style, their own design then I don't have a lot of faith in their product.

Here's an experiment. Let's see how many people look at Dell's new Studio One and see an iMac? Seriously.

but you are not like the vast flocks of people out there that the PR departments try to net

they are more interested in making money than preserving their sense of identity, if you dont like it imagine how much more Apple dislikes it, they sue people who use the shape of an apple in their logos and stuff...didnt they also try to go after people who used an 'i' at the beginning of the product name?

To me good design involves style and functioanlity. Apple definitely creates stylish devices, but I wouldn't necessarily call them all well designed. In fact some Apple devices are horribly designed.

Think of the 1st gen iPod Touch with no buttons other than a home button. Did it look good, yeah, but changing the volume was horrible. Not good design.

And the current MacBook Air... could they have squeezed another USB port in there? Of course, but more ports are "ugly" and therefore its just got the single USB port.

true... dont forget about that circular mouse from years back.

design is good, but sometimes it seems that apple would rather focus on the aesthetics of their products instead of the functionality

Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks. I cant say it enough . Give me hardware buttons give me jog dials and give me Ports Plugs and 20 inch displays .

Yeah, the iPhone is the least functional phone ever. Brilliant point.

I would agree that Apple have produced some disasters, but I completely understand the elegance that they are trying to achieve with reducing the number of buttons. If you can't, then you want something different to the rest of us.

What a really bad article...

bob21 said,
Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks. I cant say it enough . Give me hardware buttons give me jog dials and give me Ports Plugs and 20 inch displays .

+1

Every new generation of HTC phones have lost buttons since the iPhone release. The Kaiser which came out at the same time was LOADED with buttons, the Touch Pro lost quite a bit and finally the latest Touch Pro 2 even lost its dpad. They could have fit a small dpad or even a trackball, but function must be sacrificed for form to compete with Apple.

I hope this is a fad and I get my buttons back soon!

bob21 said,
Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks , Minimalism Sucks. I cant say it enough . Give me hardware buttons give me jog dials and give me Ports Plugs and 20 inch displays .

hell no.. minimalism is awesome...

especially in music...

cakesy said,
Yeah, the iPhone is the least functional phone ever. Brilliant point.

I would agree that Apple have produced some disasters, but I completely understand the elegance that they are trying to achieve with reducing the number of buttons. If you can't, then you want something different to the rest of us.

What a really bad article...

I'm not really a fan of Apple at all either, to be honest. But despite the differences I had to admit the iPhone is a very good product that I actually bought one :S Liked it even more after using it for a couple weeks.

roadwarrior said,
You cared enough to comment.

You don't have to care about a product to put comment here. Besides, putting comments here on neowin is what you supposed to do anyway.

I see the point of the article and I agree!! , its like a beautiful girl, if you like her face/body you don't care as much about her brain or other talents she might not have
and if you have "not so pretty" outside(like the recent famous singer with great voice) you're not going to make it .. not easily anyway

eagleye said,
I see the point of the article and I agree!! , its like a beautiful girl, if you like her face/body you don't care as much about her brain or other talents she might not have
and if you have "not so pretty" outside(like the recent famous singer with great voice) you're not going to make it .. not easily anyway

pretty girls are also expensive, they don't pay for gas