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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Apple & The Designer Ecosystem

Constant reinvention seems to be the Apple Way of thinking, writes Businessweek. Excerpts with edits and comments from the article:
Both the hits and misses show these -The first Macintosh. The titanium PowerBook. The iMac. The iPod. It's easy to think of Apple's major design triumphs. They've shifted general conceptions of how a computer should look and feel, and changed the way we interact with technology - and listen to music and connect with friends. The Lisa and the Newton, both were recklessly ambitious projects. The Lisa incorporated features like the mouse and a graphical user interface based on the desktop metaphor, which had previously existed only in research labs. The Newton, with its small size and handwriting-recognition software, is still considered by many to be a pioneer and predecessor of today's personal digital assistant. Some innovations are small - like the trash icon or the placement of a trackpad. Apple makes wildly imaginative products with a consistency few companies rival.

Apple's products always start first as design vision - and then tackle its feasibility. As a result, sometimes the challenges can seem impossible. Apple isn't afraid of risk. Focus groups and competing products have little influence on the next big project or design idea. The culture created a constant pressure to always improve, but it never provided a solution. The designers and programmers who thrived in that culture now bring the same passion to fresh products and new approaches outside of Apple. Apple's greatest innovation can't be measured by product sales or design awards. It's the company's culture of innovation and its existence as an incubator of the best designers and engineers that will have the biggest long-term impact. when Apple's talent moves on, they take some of that culture with them.

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