Technology Review has a fascinating analysis of the institutional attitude at Apple that generates products that win awards for design and become industry icons. It seems to begin and end with Steve Jobs' absolute commitment to sleek design and limited, intuitive functionality.
One direct result of that sharpened focus is Apple's unique ability
to create simple products. Though the idea of a simple high-tech device
seems counterintuitive (why not offer more functionality if you can?),
it's worked for Apple.
"The hardest part of design, especially consumer electronics," says
Norman, "is keeping features out." Simplicity, he says, is in itself a
product differentiator, and pursuing it can lead to innovation.
Rolston agrees. "The most fundamental thing about Apple that's
interesting to me," he says, "is that they're just as smart about what
they don't do. Great products can be made more beautiful by omitting things."
At the end of the article, the question is asked: "Why do we care what it looks like?" Former Apple vice president Don Norman says: "Studies tie attractive design to positive attitude." Look out there, Don; you don't want people to think of that other word for feeling good about yourself for superficial reasons: smug. How Apple ends up looking like the guy on the right side of those ads.