An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an Apple a year keeps the competitors away. There’s no introductions needed for the brand Apple Inc. is today.
From the time this company was started in a garage in 1976, California to the modern 2022 day where Apple is releasing their newest products such as iPhone 14, its pro series, new watches, and newer wireless buds it has come a long way.
We all have, observed Apple transform into the giant it is today. Apple is definitely one of the most influential companies in the world right now. Most of this influence is accredited to the way Steve Jobs and many others at the company realized the power in simple design yet making it innovative.
Today, we’re looking at a brief history of Apple’s product designs as well as the impact which followed.
The History in Product Design
The Apple Design
Steve Jobs, in his college years, had audited a calligraphy class which was complete different to what he was there for, and it is this moment where he discovered and fell in love with simple design. Later on he went to spend time in the Indian Rishikesh Ashram, following and studying minimalism and Zen philosophy.
When Steve came back and the idea of ‘Apple’ had started spinning and taking a better shape out of his family garage, he visited Sony’s offices frequently to look at their design language.
This is when Jobs knew what the Apple Design was going to look like. Additionally, observing Sony’s process and talking about his own Apple Design he had said, “We will make them bright and pure and honest about being high-tech, rather than a heavy industrial look of black, black, black, black like Sony. So that’s our approach. Very simple, and we’re really shooting for Museum of Modern Art quality. The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”
And this is why Apple Design is a term which is largely correlated with simplicity and functionality as a core of Apple Design philosophy.
Apple had two young designers, Terry Oyama and Jerry Manock work on the design for the original Macintosh. After they came up with an initial design draft, Steve Jobs said “It’s way too boxy, it needs to be more curvaceous. Radius of the chamfer needs to be bigger and I really don’t like the size of the bevel”.
After many iterations the designers came up with a final design of the Original Macintosh which felt more friendly and less intimidating like an office computer. Jobs wanted the product to look like something every consumer could have at their home.
The New iMac Designs
When Apple bought NeXT in 1996, they got back Steve Jobs, who they had let go earlier because of being too obsessed with design. When steve got back on the team, he found Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design officer and reimagined the iMac which became a huge success.
Steve felt that they already had a good enough product but it needed more colors. This was an instant hit.
The Dial Touch Controls
A device that created a revolution in the music industry and portable players was the iPod. It featured a simple design, beautiful display and a touch-based dial control interface that users could interact with in many ways.
Apple’s iPod had beat all the other mp3 players on the market with its ability to store 1000 songs in your pocket. For a while, iPod was ruling the mp3 player market. And this impact was because Jobs kept improving the design of this device.
With each iteration of the iPod, Steve Jobs would demand to make it ‘simpler’.
The Era of Multi-Touch UI
The Apple Design really started to flourish and inspire a revolution when it came out with the iPhone. Kinda like the iPod but has more screen ratio and is an actual smartphone! Even though the smartphone industry was already dominated by many other leaders, Apple came out a winner with their extraordinary multi-touch screen phone, and a beautifully thought UI in the name of iOS.
Even today, the same simple design aesthetic which gives off a rich-premium feel is the key towards Apple being one of the largest brands.
Ever since then, Apple has created a larger product lineup after discontinuing the iPod. From the iPad to modern think macbooks, from wireless earpods to heavy and reliable Macs.
The Impact of Apple Design
Apple made design fun
- They brightened up the world with their take on design in the 90s
- And the first area for this was the bland tasteless computers that came in boxes
- For example, iMac G3 was a bright, colorful, upbeat and playful looking computer made by Apple.
- Ever since, Apple has been doing the fun design in various products like iBook, iPod, iPhone 5c and recent M1 Mac lineup.
They put focus on simplicity
- Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive had been so vocal about simplicity in design and this is what brought them together to create amazing product designs.
- Simplicity isn’t just making things feel minimal, but removing clutter and this is what Apple did with their product line up in the past few years.
Made design accessible
- The iOS and macOS have been designed to be highly accessible for its users
- Features such as inverted colors, mono audio, voice transcription, high contrast made appearance for the first time on iOS and have been improving ever since.
Put quality first
- Apple is one of those brands, who through their design, scream premium and give you the professional, rich experience you may want from a product brand.
- This is why Apple is costly, rather than being overpriced as people like to call it, since Apple’s devices provide a higher quality of components that last longer.
Apple is indeed a pioneer in the design world and has countless times proved a point. The point that they bring revolution with their simple design philosophy every now and then. The most recent one being the Dynamic Island from the pro iPhone 14 series which made some designers think hard. Read more about it here.
Despite the ever increasing competition in the last few years, Apple still manages to stand out and bring newness to the hope of innovation in design and technology. And the key aspect of their approach remains the same, simplicity.