The PC World and Design

Jeff Atwood’s recent post on Coding Horror speaks about how in the PC World, there is no consideration for the design of a product. In the rare cases that there is, it is usually and afterthought.

Atwood’s post highlights some interesting quotes from Steve Jobs about his views on how important design and culture are to any given product. Atwood sums up one of Jobs quotes:

At Apple, taste and culture are designed into every product from day one. Nothing is released until it looks as good on the outside as it works on the inside.

This post pretty much describes how I’ve felt about the differences between Apple and the rest of the PC industry. As a designer, I’m particularly interested in the way a product looks and how that relates to it’s function. Clearly though, designers aren’t the only ones who care. Take a look at the success of the iPod for example. I’m also willing to bet that the iPhone will be very successful when it’s finally released, despite it’s enormous price tag and supposed lack of features.

The rest of the PC Industry has missed the mark entirely when it comes down to pinpointing Apple’s success. Steve Ballmer said recently in an interview about Apple’s iPhone:

“$500! Fully subsidized! With a plan! I said that is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine.” [Via Daring Fireball]

Yes, it is very expensive, and for very little space (4gb and 8gb). But I predict (because I have a lot of clout on the matter) that people will buy it. They will buy it in droves. They will buy not because it has the most efficient keyboard, or it can do the greatest number of things. They will buy it because:

  1. It’s pretty.
  2. It’s cool.
  3. It works as advertised (I basing this on Apple’s track records).
  4. And most importantly: For once somebody actually thought about how consumers use electronics and what their real needs are instead of focusing useless gadgetry and assuming that they are content with using kludgy devices simply because that has become the de facto standard.

The PC Industry will give you a device that works by accepted standards, and addresses certain needs. Often times, a product will contain a lot of “features”. I’ve found myself wanting more, time and time again. Then I look at Apple’s products. They design an experience from start to finish. The success of Apple’s line of laptops and iPods are not because of what they do. There are many other products that do the same thing (often for less money). These products are successful because Apple has designed the products from start to finish and created for the user an experience that strives to make every aspect of the product not just good, but exceptional.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


1. mantis

That is all so very true. Mac may not do everything, but everything it promises to do, it does exceptionally, from start to finish. I’m officially enamored.

2. NerdStarGamer » Blog Archive » Internally, Microsoft Does Get It

[…] More emails from Windows chief Jim Allchin were made public recently as a result of and antitrust trial in Iowa. This latest email seemed particularly relevant to my last post on The PC World and Design. […]