Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Iterating good design

Rob Beschizza writing for Boing-Boing contrasts Sony's and Apple's approaches to solving design problems.

Misunderstanding Apple

"At a recent event I attended, someone involved in marketing said that Apple's success is founded on it creating substantially new designs every year to keep everyone keeping up. In his view, Apple ownership is about getting the latest thing to impress people."

"It's weird that a company under such constant scrutiny is misunderstood like this, often by people who have been watching it for years. Isn't it obvious that Apple rarely changes its designs?"

"I imagine that Apple is delighted to see rivals convinced that every year's model is different to the last one; talk about a reality distortion field. Companies like Dell and HP will chance across good design every so often, but companies like Sony make good designs then abandon them intentionally because they're blind to their own good design choices."

"... Sony rarely iterates, even when it's onto something good. Everything is a one-off. It treats a billion-dollar business the way a microbrewery treats ales with silly names."

"Apple isn't the only company that persists with a good design, either. If you want an ultraportable laptop that's Windows or Linux-friendly which works better than the Z and isn't outrageously expensive, look no further than the Lenovo X series."

His essay is illustrated with great comparison photos:
"Check out these two iMacs. The one on the left is from 2007, and the other is the latest model. They're more than four years apart. Here's the first and the latest iPod. While they're not identical, bear in mind that nine years passed in the interval... Here's a Mac from 1984 and one from 1994. Though Apple made all sorts of other desktop towers and pizza boxes in this period, this popular design saw more than a decade of refinement." See them at http://boingboing.net/2011/11/14/what-the-vaio-z-says-about-son.html