How to Beat Apple – Get Serious About Product Design.

Andrew Kim's HTC 1 phone design render

Apple are unstoppable right now. Unbelievably, their market value recently surpassed Microsoft’s. In my opinion, the one reason Apple are in this position is because they understand the power of fantastic product design.

As a case in point, let me describe a recent trip to Best Buy. A couple of weeks ago my trusty MacBook Pro died. After hearing good things about Windows 7 and not agreeing with some of Apple’s recent policies, I decided to buy a new Windows laptop. After looking at every one in the store I realized that each one was more gaudy and plasticy than the last. From the strangely colored cases to the myriad of extra buttons, lights and nipples, they seemed like a collection of badly designed toys. I guiltily drifted over to the Mac area and checked out the the new MacBook Pro with its aluminum unibody, beautiful screen and minimalist controls. Eventually I walked out with one.

Apple understand that laptops and phones are the new watches and jewelry. We are using them majority of our waking life. They define us to the people around us. They need to be both functional and beautiful. Apple products have plenty of hardware and software issues, but people are willing to forgive them since the products are so nice to look at.

The amazing Android Phone Prototype above by Andrew Kim, shows the kind of phone that HTC need to build in order to knock the iPhone off the top of the most-wanted list. What happened to all the great Nokia and Erikson phones from a few years ago? Why are they not building Android phones? Why can’t Sony create a laptop as well-designed as the MacBook Pro?

Apple’s competitors need to get serious about design, both hardware and software. They need to invest in their design teams and hire the best and the brightest talent available.

12 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    You are probably right that a lot of laptops are not that nice.

    However are you really telling me that the Sony Vaio F series or the HP Envy 17-1050ea are not beautiful machines?

    And when you configure the same set up are you really saying that the Macbook is worth either being under powered or paying $600 more for the same?

    They are nice but it’s untrue to say there isn’t anything out there to compete

  2. Lawrie says:

    I totally agree. There are a few high-end windows laptops that are well designed, but on the whole, they still have the same plastic look and feel we had ten years ago. The fact that no major manufacturer has put any serious effort into this is astounding – most PCs feel very utilitarian.
    Quite a few of my “non-techie” friends have told me they’re going to buy Macs, and when I ask why, it is almost always because of their physical quality and design (and cool brand image).
    Fingers crossed we’ll get some genuinely beautiful laptops designed as manufacturers realise how much value consumers put in look and feel.

  3. matt says:

    I absolutely agree – and it’s not just hardware design. The OS is also aesthetically far more developed than windows, although the customization values are far more numerous on Windows.

    There are a few very attractive Windows Laptops such as the Dell Adamo, but they are few and far between – and often poorly priced and underpowered.

  4. Felix Turner says:

    @Peter and Matt – you are right there are some nice PC laptops out there. Part of the problem is finding them. Where is the PC equivalent of the Apple Store?

  5. […] How to Beat Apple – Get Serious About Product Design. […]

  6. hArian says:

    How to Beat Apple? -> don’t buy it. Essentially Apple is a golem which will fall under its own weight of ignorance.

    I am happy with Lenovo ThinkPad as a laptop, custom built 4-core CPU desktop machine and Cowon audio player (beats the $%it out of iPod in terms of sound quality + expandable by cheap SD cards). Smart Phone? Modded HTC Touch HD for now. Next will be some of these nice Android phones…

    BTW Steve Jobs never had my business. People have a say in this overweight consumer + grid – based society. Start from yourself.

  7. […] of Airtight Interactive points out: Apple understands that laptops and phones are the new watches and jewelry. We are using them […]

  8. […] bel post di Felix Turner, freelance web developer di LA: How to Beat Apple – Get Serious About Product Design. Come dargli torto. Ho pensato le stesse cose durante la mia ultima visita al Media World di […]

  9. Noel says:

    It would also help if Android wasn’t an ugly mess on the software side as well.

  10. […] of Airtight Interactive points out: Apple understands that laptops and phones are the new watches and jewelry. We are using them […]

  11. it is about brand as well as it is about product design. I think majority of windows laptop producers need to change their brand identity then their product designs. Since all looks like from 1990. And I think windows should change as well. I mean from point of user experience. We don’t just want useful we also want something amazing to use…

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