Thursday, June 14, 2018

Apple’s Design Language Has Killed Fun in Consumer Electronics

Mike Murphy:

For a while, the company stuck to this design trend, selling increasingly ambitious and playful products, including the original iPod, the iBook G4, the Power Mac G4 Cube, the iPod Nano, Touch, and Shuffle, and even the iPhone 5c. Today, the only colors you’ll find on Apple products is black, white, shades of grey, and occasionally, gold. We don’t even have rose gold anymore. Real pops of color are reserved for accessories like watch bands and phone cases.

Something changed over the last decade. Perhaps it was the hiring of Angela Ahrendts from Burberry to run Apple’s retail division and her increasing influence within the company. Perhaps it’s just because metal looks more premium than plastic does. For whatever reason, Apple looks and acts far more like a luxury brand than a consumer-technology brand in 2018.

Previously: What Happened to Apple’s Whimsy?.

Update (2018-06-15): But on the software side, Mojave is adding accent colors.

Update (2018-06-24): Riccardo Mori:

Now, perhaps Murphy’s piece is guilty of all the faults the Macalope points out — it all boils down to the author cherry-picking examples to fit his narrative — but the Macalope, in his rebuttal, does exactly the same. He points out that Apple still has colourful products: there’s the (PRODUCT)RED iPhone, there are the iPod touch colour options, there are the bands for the Apple Watch. These examples are valid, but weak.

Slix ~ Jeremy:

Still don’t see why Apple dropped the metallic colors, since the iPod line had a really good thing going for a long time. I think the colors and textures from the iPod nano 4th generation line could easily be put onto iPhones and people would eat them up.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

This is completely unsurprising to me. The vast majority of the products listed were from a time period when Apple had to innovate by necessity; they weren't a market leader, they were an underdog, and underdogs have to experiment and think differently in order to get noticed.

Flash forward to today and we have Apple stuck in a rut after solidifying its iPhone stranglehold on the mobile market and Microsoft churning out flawed, interesting experiments in hardware form factor. Overwhelming success was just about the worst thing that could happen to Apple for those of us who fell in love with it for its innovation and whimsy.

"Overwhelming success was just about the worst thing that could happen to Apple for those of us who fell in love with it for its innovation and whimsy."

Well, overwhelming success and also Jobs' death, leaving Ive and Newson's sterile posh executive desk accessory aesthetic in charge.

Apple now seems like Japan to me. They think they are the best at everything, and don't rapidly adapt to a changing world. Just like Japan went from electronics manufacturing darling to mostly a has-been (compared to South Korea and China), so will Apple if they keep churning out products that cater to the lowest common denominator and give up the pro / hobbyist market. Their laptops are sad now, and their abandonment of the high end (Mac Pro) and low end (Mac mini) is leaving them vulnerable. They also seem to be losing the Education market too. I've tried Apple Music twice and it still sucks compared to Spotify -- and now that I've found the "Smarter Playlists" Spotify web app, I may never switch to Apple Music unless they release a similar API that developers can tap into. Heck, I am seriously considering getting an Android for my next phone if Google finally gives us a real answer to iMessage. Apple may make more money than anyone else, but they are hardly a leader anymore unless all you care about is turning your face into a cartoon.

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