Does It Take A History Lesson To Figure Out You Can Make A Product In Different Colors?

from the mindblowing,-like,-wow dept

The amount of attention paid to and interest in industrial design has skyrocketed over the past several years, with people like Jonathan Ives, Apple’s chief designer, becoming well known. Without question, industrial design is hugely important in the consumer electronics space, but some of the genius ascribed to it gets a little over the top. Witness a post on a BusinessWeek blog that attributes the launch of the iPod Mini in different colors to “what Apple Learned from Kodak”. It says that Apple’s decision to give consumers a choice of colors was borne out of Kodak’s 1926 release of its Vanity camera in different colors, an attempt to make the product more attractive to women, and that “What Apple did was learn from history, and adopt, adapt, and assimilate past success to current context.” So figuring out you can make a product in different colors requires an immensely skilled designer with an acute knowledge of the history of colored products? That seems to be buying into the mystique of industrial design just a little too much. While it was beneficial for Apple to expand the iPod color palette, that move in and of itself wasn’t all that innovative, was it? Furthermore, the success of the Mini, and continued success of the iPod, is because of many factors beyond design — the ability to deliver more functionality at lower prices, for a start.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Does It Take A History Lesson To Figure Out You Can Make A Product In Different Colors?”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

No, it doesn’t take a history lesson to figure out colors but it does take one to convinced the heads at Apple that offering different colors would be a profitable thing on a product line that’s already as successful as is.

Apple is in the tradition of telling you what you want instead of letting you chose what you want. For the longest time, that color was white and white only. They ditched the original imac (ones that look like tv tubes) color pallets long ago. So in today’s apple, even the introduction of a black color was major departure from their design motto (ie, black macbook)

so ya, you did missed something.

John (profile) says:

Market to women

I think the real genius is figuring out how to “market to women” and apply it to the rest of the market.

Way-back-when, Ford introduced automatic transmissions on the Mustang “for women”, yet now it’s very difficult to find a manual transmission car.

Someone in the electronics world thought that women like color, so now all of Apple’s products come in color.
This makes a certain amount of sense since PC’s (and printers and other hardware) have usually come in two colors: gray and black. Why? Because a *man’s* office doesn’t need those frilly colors. Who wants a blue computer? We’re men! Gray and black is all we need! And sometimes we’re happy with just gray.

EngineerZ says:

Re: Re:

Heck, You can go a lot further back than the Zen Micro… The Regency TR-1 transistor radio, arguably the iPod of the 1950s (e.g. see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4265374.stm ), came in a variety of colors. Not to say Apple got the idea from Regency or Creative, rather it’s not all that innovative of a concept. Consumer electronic manufacturers have been offering their devices in multiple colors continuously through the years. It’s not a forgotten Kodak concept.

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