ipad leapfrogs all

So lucky for me that Nook had production delivery problems. That just saved me $500. Now I’ll just wait for the ipad to come out.

On that note of products being late…that’s just a killer when it comes to generating sales and making business numbers. Designers should know this, but often don’t really assimilate the impact of being late and its consequences on the business.  What does that mean to the design process?

minus ten – April 1999

id-mag-apil-19981

Here’s a new series that I’m going to try and keep up with call “minus ten”.  It’s a look back 10 years to see what was going on.  I’ll pick out what I feel got Stuck in Time, good or bad design that was clearly of the moment.  Ahead of Time will be a look at something that had brought some insight to the future and finally, the Test of Time will soon be design classics, at least imho.

id-mag-april-mac-1998

Stuck in time: Apple blue G3, man those colors…

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id-mag-april-kodak-1998

Ahead of time: Give Kodak credit for going green on this recyclable camera, BUT
Stuck in time: this design got hit with the ugly stick.

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id-mag-april-knifes-1998

Test of Time: Knifes, the dots are a bit stuck, and the colors are more neutral than they look above, but I wouldn’t be unhappy pulling one of those knifes out of my pocket today.

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id-mag-april-house-1998

Ahead of time: This aesthetic for the mini home was definitely ahead.  It looks like it could have come out of Dwell magazine last year.

 

From ID Magazine, April 1999.

iriver doing nice work

iriver2

Some might say they are riffing off Apple and some might say the design is so simple, its boring.  It also has a bit of mid 80’s Japanese electronics feel, think Sony back then.  I just played with the Spinn for a bit.  It’s definitely a nice product.  OLED display is awesome and the build quality is solid.

iriver1

The Visual Media is really nice as well, simple swiss grid like feel.  They are also talking about a new home screen they are calling “magazine” style on some of their other big screen products.  I think its a really fresh take on media design.  It goes beyond the Apple jelly style buttons, or any buttons for that matter, you just interact with the media itself.  But their website, ugh, in this case, Flash doesnt have anything to do with how fast you can view all of their products.  The site is really painful to navigate as well. That said, the UI on the Spinn was a little strange combining touch and physical control in a way that wasn’t naturally intuitive.

sony_walkman_1

You gotta love the original walkman, it changed the game in personal electronics. 1979…wow.

ID Annual – B+W Zepplin

Ok, my take on this is I like the speaker itself, the detailing looks nice, I’ll take Johns word for the build quality being great, but I don’t like this pairing with the ipod. I typically don’t prescribe thinking that calls for matchy matchy, meaning “if the ipod is square, lets make the speaker system square”. (Apple did for their own speaker system) In this case, the two elements are so strong and pure individually, I believe they don’t really mix well together.

Designers rejoice!

Windows on a Mac, you knew this had to happen! BOOTCAMP For most die hards Mac users, this won’t matter since most microsoft apps run well if not better on a mac, (expect powerpoint). But me, i can’t wait, pc games, a few weird, but good windows apps, oh yeah, say goodbye to my PC!

[add 4/11] Some friends of mine are going to try running Alias on a Mac, will let you know what happens.

Apple Craft: it’s the product

I just got back from the Art Center conference called Radical Craft. I wasn’t able to make the first day of the conference, which I was told seemed to be the better of the two days to attend. But I did happen to catch a talk, or more an interview given by Chee Perlman of Jonathan Ive, the VP of Design at Apple. I have to say it was a really great interview. The MC intro went sort of like this, “if Steve Jobs is the design visionary at Apple, then Jonnie Ive is the design soul”. Here are my thoughts about what I enjoyed:

1. Jon is the 100% opposite of the typical design rock star personality. Isaac Mizrahi also presented that same day, actually a really great interview as well, but his personality is huge and clearly a big part of the package. Flamboyant, loud, arms waving, running into the crowd like Jerry Springer. This is not Jon Ive. I think its great to see smart designers that don’t want to be rock stars, talk about their passions in a public venue.

2. He’s clearly focused on one thing, making the product as great as it can be. When asked about what the goals of Apple are, he states that creating and producing the best product possible, is more important than making money. I’m sure some of the business guys would choke hearing this, but I’m of the same belief, that if you really get the product right, the chances of it and the company doing well are much higher. Additionally, you get the benefit of a company with a reputation that delivers quality.

3. Following on about the utter importance of the “product” itself, he states that getting this right, has a much more lasting, positive impact than marketing and sales. Once again, I’m in complete agreement here. Yes the Apple ad campaign creates a grand sense of style and aspiration for us consumers, the itunes store offers a great online experience, but the proof is in the pudding, if the product pleases, it just makes you smile and reinforces the message, but if it disappoints, you’re crying and the message turns into a joke. If the product is done right and delivers, then that creates repeat customers boosting sales.

4. He is a design freak, passionate and fanatical about the details and getting it right. It’s fortunate that he’s in an organization that cares as much as he does.

5. Continuing on design, he states that Apple design is NOT about self expression and more about taking complex problems and making them appear simple. This was said in the context of comparing Apple Design to other designers, like Mizrahi, who would profess to say that the design he produces, IS self expression. On this note, I can’t say I agree with Jon. Yes the current Apple design language is the epitome of simplicity. One could argue that the current line is almost expressionless in its character. But what about the “candy colored” phase of Apple design? Or the jelly fish like Apple/Harmon speakers? Quite expressive if you ask me. What designers produce or at least intend to produce, in my mind, is a clear statement of self expression, whether that expression is simplicity or intricacy or excitement or whatever appropriate thought fits. That product expression is also a direct reflection of where that particular company is at the time as well. Often the reflection can get watered down to a murky blur by too many participants trying leave their own mark, but that’s another blog topic.

It’s clear that Jonathan and his team are in pursuit of excellence. It’s also clear that Apple at large is willing to pay for this and do what it takes to produce great product (poor engineers, they must go through hell!). There is another interesting blog about the cost of innovation from Noise Between Stations which I actually found on Bruce Nussbaum’s Business Week blog who also has some nice thoughts on design. The NBS blog talks about how much Apple pays for innovation and puts it up against sales, good stuff. This all said, as someone traditionally trained in Industrial Design, and now an expert in Experience, Strategic, Brand, Feeling, Styling, Innovation Design 😉 I quite enjoyed Jon’s ability to stay focused on one thing, the product.

to kill and ipod

The infamous Apple ipod. Here’s what we all know:
Itunes store (still the best music store)
Itunes software (still the best software interface)
Iconic AND easy to use interface on the device
Classic design that’s not very polarizing and easy to customize
Nice line of accessories, most via 3rd parties
Great overal product “feel”
but poor longevity
Poor battery life
Screen problems
Complaints of easily damaged/scratched product
Too many products intros in the flavor of small variants of the same thing.

Maybe its time to think out of the box and get passed the thought of how to “beat Apple”. Manufacturers: bring something to the market that people want. Create a great experience with the technology you KNOW and is readily available to you. If you invent something new, be sure its useful, we’ve had plenty of useless inventions over the past years. Finally, exceed expectations.