I saw a post over at CNet asking “Has Apple lost its design edge? Not quite” (It’s a Q&A post and the question was asked by an emailer). The question got me thinking about design.
If you’ve ever watched Jonathan Ive talk about design, you’ll be able to guess why certain products haven’t been redesigned yet. The newest versions of the iPad and iPhone look virtually identical to their predecessors. In the documentary Objectified, Ive says something like there’s a point where something is so simple and intuitive it doesn’t appear to be designed.
A great design disappears. That was one of the goals of the Amazon Kindle. Jeff Bezos said he wanted the device to disappear so you could just read. The device should not get in the way of its function.
Currently, the iPad and iPhone are at a point where they don’t need to be redesigned for function. Added to that, the current generation of devices can take advantage of the previous manufacturing process.
Some people want everyone else to know that they have the latest and greatest product – hence the success of perceived obsolescence. Arguably, Apple wants the world to know that everyone is using its products, not necessarily its latest.