/2016/09/design_as_branding

Comments

To Be Fair:
> I’m sure Manjoo knows that, and I know Times columnists don’t write their headlines, their editors do. But the headline is still his responsibility.

So, you know that Manjoo didn't write the headline, but you still place the responsibility for it on him?
12:13 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
To Be Fair:
>Weak brands move like ping-pong balls; strong brands move like bowling balls. A new Rolex needs to look like a Rolex. A Leica needs to look like a Leica. A new Coca-Cola bottle needs to look like a Coca-Cola bottle.

So, was Apple a "weak brand" back in the peak Jobs/Ive era, when the iMac went from a colorful blob to a quirky design with a hemispherical base and articulated arm, to a bland white plastic rectangle, to a blandly-refined aluminum rectangle?

![iMac evolution](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/IMac_history.png)
12:22 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
To Be Fair:
>The better the iPhone gets, the longer it’s going to stretch between major new form factor designs. Here’s Ben Bajarin, writing at Recode, is on the same page as me:

So, I just took his argument wholesale, including the Porsche 911 analogy.
12:26 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
anonymous:
To Be Fair,

Absolutely! The iMac was a weak ass brand. They made some waves, and technology changed over the next decade to allow them to go from a fun-looking CRT AIO in a time when beige boxes still rules, to introduce a flatscreen atop a base, and eventually figure out how to incorporate that base into their AIO. Now look at the iMac brand. After moving from colors, to white plastic, to aluminium, it has changed much except to get larger and thinner, which includes tapered edge (which also provides for a stronger back with less materials due to the intentional curve).
12:40 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
To Be Fair:
>The iMac was a weak ass brand.

Well, I think this comes under "Apple" generally as a brand, not just the iMac.

I don't think you'll find Gruber at the time arguing that Apple had a weak brand, even in the iMac line. I think you'll find that he was arguing how amazing each new revision was.

Just as how he was arguing that each new different-looking iPhone was the best thing ever when they were released.

Different looking design? Apple has a strong brand.

Same-looking design? Apple has a strong brand.
12:46 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Tillie:
The iMac G4 was overhauled because of a change in the available technology. Once flat panel displays became cheap enough to use in consumer desktops, a radical redesign was necessary. Period. Why keep a form factor conceived for CRTs when LCDs opened up so many new possibilities?

There has been no equivalent change in tech available for phones to prompt the same kind of revision. Components have gotten better, but have retained basically the same form factor. If something like, say, *flexible* displays become viable for cheap mass production, then maybe we'll see a similar reimagining of phone design.
2:44 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Eye in the sky:
Oh Apple, save me from my ennui!
3:50 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
anonymous:
> Which phone from any other company looks like that?

earlier today:

> Google Pixel form factor largely resembles iPhone 6: crickets.


so, apparently the google pixel looks like it.
4:30 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
chas_m:
I find myself in complete agreement with ... Ben Bejarin (and I guess Gruber as well). Bad news for him and the rest of you: the iPhone 7s or 8 or whatever it is called -- the 2017 iPhone -- is going to look more or less like this one. As noted in the article above, Apple's design once it gets past the early stages is driven by (generally) two factors: a new material comes along that we can use that offers notable advantages, or new technology comes along that allows us to rethink the design and offers notable advantages.

It's the same reason the iMac hasn't changed much over the past few years, but has gotten very noticeably better with each new iteration: in terms for form, they've reached the nexus point of cheap and cool/useful until quantum computing or some other equally extraordinary technology comes along. The next iPhone will further improve on the iPhone 7, but it will basically look like this one: you can't really go any thinner until a radical new material comes along, you need it to be a shape that fits in the hand, people are used to where the buttons are so no need to change that unless absolutely necessary. There's plenty of room for some further improvements, but as noted we're past the "change for change's sake" stage. And that's a good thing.
4:43 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
To Be Fair:
>The iMac G4 was overhauled because of a change in the available technology. Once flat panel displays became cheap enough to use in consumer desktops, a radical redesign was necessary.

That doesn't explain the change from the G4 generation to the G5 and Intel.

The G4 iMac had a distinctive and beloved form factor that really defined the brand, plus made it highly ergonomic.

There was no significant change in technology from the G4 to G5 iMac, they both used flat LCD panels.

Yet, the G5 has an inferior design, because you can't raise, lower or rotate the display. Gruber loves saying design is not just "how it looks" but also how it works. So by that measure, the iMac design got worse over time.
5:59 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
anonymous:
@ Eye in the sky:

underrated comment
7:22 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
toolshed:
This article, while sort of having merit, exemplifies what's so fucking wrong with the tech media scene - it's just journalists talking to and about other journalists. I DON'T GIVE A CRAP WHATA JOURNALIST THINKS, but I care a lot what someone who's actually doing the thing reckons. So much Gruber et al is just people who are interested palming themselves off as experts. They're not, never have never have been, never will be. (Some, I gave a partial pass to. A guy like Mossberg never claims to be an expert, and he's very good at getting the actual practitioners to talk. Nut most of his colleagues at the Verge/Recode are A-grade dick-wavers.)
9:35 am — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Tillie:
>There was no significant change in technology from the G4 to G5 iMac, they both used flat LCD panels.

You may well be right about that. I do remember reading about this at the time the G5 was released (sorry, I don't remember where anymore) The speculation was that the G5 design was the original intent for the G4, too, but desktop G4 chips ran too hot. The computer would have been too thick and ungainly – which is saying something considering how thick and clunky the G5 looks now.
12:21 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Bumface:
> I feel bad for a technology enthusiast who isn’t excited by that photograph.

It's a photograph of a shiny rectangle.
1:03 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
the dude:
So now we're comparing iPhones to Porche 911's. I have a couple problems with that:

1) Porsche's cars are designed for a very tiny sliver of the car buying public, not the "mainstream" like Apples's phones.

2) Porsche owners don't upgrade their cars every 1-2 years, nor does Porsche's business model depend on them doing so.

The same can be said about Rolex.

A good portion of Apple's business is convincing a huge number of people that they need to throw away their existing phone and buy a new one every 1-2 years. If, as Gruber now states, the iPhone design has achieved near perfection, there is little incentive for people to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Right or wrong, this does not bode well for Apple.
2:08 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Jerry says:
Son, you'll never get far. Why? Because there really isn't very far to go.
3:11 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
anonymous:
the g5 imac also ran hot a shit. it had a huge heat sink with a blower on it, and it was loud as hell. this was before they started doing fan control really well. obviously the power supply that ran the thing was hot too.

things got better once they switched to intel processors.
3:49 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Jewber:
Everyone seems to forget what really happened with iPhone design language.

Samsung made phones much bigger than the iPhone 4/5 and ate Apple's lunch.

Apple then waited forever in arrogance while its lunch was being eaten. Finally the Jews on Apple's board demanded they copy Samsung -- so copy Samsung they did, sacrificing in the process the superior 4/5 design for the bloated ugly round version we've been stuck with and everyone *is* bored with.

So Apple did change away from a better design (4/5) for change's sake and everyone has been waiting for them to fix it.

Meanwhile, Samsung made a leap in design with the edge displays starting with the S6. And has been eating Apple's lunch with it.

We're waiting with baited breath for Apple to copy that and they most assuredly will.

Next year.
5:01 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Lunchtime?:
"Samsung made phones much bigger than the iPhone 4/5 and ate Apple's lunch."

Uh, which quarter was that?

https://ycharts.com/companies/AAPL/gross_profit
5:47 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
anonymous:
> Uh, which quarter was that?


Can you honestly not see, from that chart?
6:28 pm — Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Little Johnny Gub-Gub:
Ill-considered Fireball
================

by LITTLE JOHNNY GUB-GUB

The Designs Good
------------------

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

First of all, what is design? Steven Jobs said design’s how it works. How what works? I don’t know.

Farhad Manjoo says the iPhone hasn’t got design. I read his article and he actually *didn’t* say that. So hah! And also, the headline said that. But *he* didn’t write the headline! But… hang on, I’ve undermined myself here.

Design is not the same as aesthetics. People use the word “design” without knowing what it means. Idiots! The iPhone *design* actually *did* change this year – it’s the *industrial design* that didn’t change. *Industrial.*

Apple didn’t change the design this year on purpose. Really really good things don’t change much. The first reason Apple didn’t change is that the new design wasn’t ready. But… hang on, I’ve undermined myself here.

Wait, did I say *design* in that paragraph? I meant *industrial design*. Or was it *design*? Hang on, I’ve undermined myself here.

Manjoo says “What was iconic about the company’s phones, computers, tablets and other products has come to seem generic. This is a subjective assessment.” NO! I LIKE THE SAME DESIGN.

THEN Mango says the the Samsung round screen *is really good*, but the battery *wasn’t as good*. Yes, it’s true that the round screen is very good – there’s no arguing with that – BUT the battery *wasn’t as good*. Hang on, I’ve undermined myself here.

Now, just bear in mind that Manjoo is writing for a real newspaper, so his living doesn’t depend on driving undeserved traffic to his internet blog. I, on the other hand… Hang on…
11:35 am — Thursday, 22 September 2016
![](http://media0.giphy.com/media/ohdlCZB6qSvYc/giphy.gif):
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12:21 pm — Sunday, 16 October 2016
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