10 Elegant Product Designs, Not By Apple - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
10/17/2014
10:06 AM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

10 Elegant Product Designs, Not By Apple

Apple has made elegant design its calling card, but other companies can create gorgeous things, too.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

Apple says exceptional design is the essence of its products, and not without reason. Over the years, its products have stood out for being attractive, well crafted, and easy to use.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Apple's competitors -- the makers of Windows computers -- only underscored Apple's distinctiveness by continuing to produce utilitarian beige boxes. When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs returned to lead Apple in the late 1990s and launched the candy-colored iMac line and the Think Different ad campaign, the company was struggling. Microsoft and its Windows partners saw no reason to worry, except that Apple might fail and complicate Microsoft's antitrust situation.

But Jobs's faith in the distinctiveness of Apple products and his vision for the company led Apple to create technology products that were both beautiful and functional. His focus on premium design, given form by Apple senior VP of design Jony Ive, led to luxurious margins and healthy earnings until his own health gave out three years ago.

Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has continued to focus on design as if it owned the concept. "A truly great product is ultimately defined by the integration of its hardware and software," declares Ive in the video introducing the company's iPhone 6. Ive also narrated the video introducing the Apple Watch, a product due early next year that's hugely dependent on design.

A few years ago, it might have been Apple senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller telling this story. But Apple is doubling down on design -- on aesthetics, form, and function -- as the thing that differentiates its products from the competition. Apple has become both a technology company and a luxury goods company.

The problem Apple faces is that other companies have caught on. Sony understood the value of design early on, but struggled with other issues, like lackluster leadership and its failure to understand the value of controlling both software and hardware. Now Amazon, Google, and Microsoft -- through its own struggles and the acquisition of Nokia's mobile business -- appear to have learned from what Apple has done right and are showing themselves to be capable of elegant product design. And the platform companies are not alone. Mobile hardware companies like Samsung and Xiaomi have recognized the need to focus on design to distinguish their products, because Android has commoditized the software layer.

The shift toward mobile devices and the computerization of everyday objects only amplifies the importance of design. Back when computers were machines for the technically savvy, users were expected to spend hours manually updating software and drivers; computers were expected to be painful to operate. Today, ease of use and the user experience are paramount; no one will tolerate a mobile phone that is confusing or an Internet-connected thermostat that requires a detailed manual.

Fine design, particularly in the aesthetic sense, has been essential for luxury brands since long before Apple was founded. While Apple may have been instrumental in demonstrating the value of great design in the computer industry, it no longer has a monopoly on beautiful, well engineered technology products.

What follow are a few things, mostly technology products, that demonstrate great design.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 3 / 3
mak63
100%
0%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2014 | 5:22:13 PM
Re: Don't call it a waffle iron
The price seems to be around $199.95 – $249.95. Most likly the cheapest price is for the 2-square and $250 for the 4-square,

Anyway, regarding the article subtitle:" Apple has made elegant design its calling card, but other companies can create gorgeous things, too". Is anyone surprise by that?

We can easily put many of the 2-in-1 laptops along with the Surface 3 Pro. Those hybrids laptops are really beautiful.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2014 | 4:57:39 PM
Re: Don't call it a waffle iron
Me too, Charlie. One can cook many things in a waffle iron. Grilled cheese, hash browns, brownies ...
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2014 | 3:37:57 PM
Don't call it a waffle iron
Wish you had included the price on that Breville Smart Waffle Maker. I gotta have one.
<<   <   Page 3 / 3
Slideshows
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Get Your Enterprise Ready for 5G
Mary E. Shacklett, Mary E. Shacklett,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Modern App Dev: An Enterprise Guide
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  1/5/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll