Fri, Dec 12th 2008 10:20am
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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