Apple

Undesign

Jonathan Ive Speaks on the Brilliance of Apple Design [Edible Apple] (NOTE: I left this as a comment but decided to turn it into a blog post.)

If Apple weren’t building and selling amazingly useful and usable devices, I’d almost accuse their design team of being too philosophical, but instead they deserve credit for being the world’s best at putting their philosophy into practice, sweating the details, and working their tails off and iterating to make the design so careful and considered as to feel inevitable and obvious. Which is a great place to be, because manufacturing the parts for such a device may be totally non-obvious (as Ive points out with the fixtures that hold the part as it is machined). Manufacturing-machine fixtures are not something the user (or competitors) will ever see directly. Think about it. Apple's secret sauce is invisible---even if their competitors pretend like all Apple offers is eye candy.

There is so much depth to the design of their products that other companies just completely miss and thus cannot copy because they do not see that richness directly in the final product (e.g. the process to create the lightest, most sturdy designs). As Ive says, the goal of the final product is for it feel “undesigned” but those are just empty words until you actually attempt to build the thing. In Apple's case they transcend the realm of philosophy by doing the hard work. Other hardware makers (laptop makers for example) don’t understand just how many years and top notch designers it takes to get to where Apple is, even just in enclosure design. Then once you are there, how do you get the motherboards into that thin enclosure? How do you get the fit and finish so tight but still manufacture it in by the millions of units? How do you deal with heat and battery life issues? Apple hits home runs in every category.