Apple’s Competitive Edge in Product Design
Every once in a while a new star is born, and thereafter, its lifespan is solely dependent on the amount of light it emits. In the world of technology, these stars wouldn't amount to anything unless they cater to the needs of prospective customers. The status of 'star' is instantly granted to a company the moment their product perfectly syncs with their customers’ expectations. By managing to deliver a perfect combination of design and performance back in 2007, Apple Inc. revolutionized the way we interact with technology today.
The secret to Apple’s success is the fact that it was the only IT company of its time to hire designers on a par with engineers because they understood the importance of a good design well ahead of time, when companies like Nokia and Blackberry were still launching complex products. Apple spent a large amount of resources brainstorming new ideas on how to make everything simpler, to enable them to reach out to each and every age group and create a product that is well-adjusted to their needs.
This they achieved with a simple User Interface (UI) design, featuring a magnificent bezel-less glass and aluminum uni-body design, with only 4 keys instead of a cluttered keyboard. It was a passion for design at the very top, and if Steve Jobs didn't care about design, we would still be using those monotonous devices which only catered to tech-savvy businessmen.
Yes, I'm talking about the ubiquitous iPhone.
However, the launch of the iPhone is not Apple’s single most revolutionary achievement. The tech giant has managed to introduce some of the most incredible devices in the past as well; the birth of Lisa (the first GUI-based personal computer from Apple launched in 1980s) and the introduction of the iPod back in 2001 defined the vision of this company and introduced a new level of competition in the market. The iPhone 4 was the first mobile device of its time not to include a user’s manual in their product packaging simply because its design was so descriptive and user-friendly that a child could learn to use it even before he/she uttered their first words.
Apple’s love for design has allowed them to enjoy a tenacious period of success and currently they have 178 billion dollars of cash in hand. Apple opted for Expert Centered Design as opposed to User Centered Design. They do refine features of their released products based on feedback from users, but they never ask for it before finishing version 1.0. They can adopt this approach probably because most companies don't have a lot of core talent, but Apple ensures they hire people with a refined taste and love for a solid design. The prevalence of this love for design at all organizational levels is what has enabled Apple to deliver some of the best consumer products of this century.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.