"But during actual use the ports are going to be on the BACK of the device (so you won't see it) and will have random stuff plugged into some of the ports, which ALSO would disturb the pure clean lines of the thing, so who cares?"
"No, no, we've got to label this thing with black labels on a black background, so it blends in."
"How will people be able to see the labels?"
"Easy. We'll add LED backlighting!"
"How will people TURN ON the LED backlighting, without the button to do THAT destroying our perfect design?"
"Simple - there's no button for it - you just move the machine to turn on the backlight!"
"What if you want the backlight to STAY on for a while, longer than the default?"
"Just keep shaking the machine. Or duct-tape a vibrator to it."
"How do we turn them on?"
"Today, when people have trouble seeing ports, they tilt the machine to give it more light. So we'll detect that."
"Hey, so now we don't need garish colors on our ports!"
Black on black is pretty funky, but it might make sense to have LED lights. When you plug stuff into its expansion ports, chances are you're gonna move the machine slightly, so it lights up automagically which lets you see where things are.
You may also put this inside a cabinet or under the desk maybe (I'd put it on a mantlepiece) where light isn't abundant. Shake it, ah, there it is. No hard drive so you can shake your heart out!
Genuine answer as I see it.
Still, there is something of a problem in that sometimes people plug things in while the power is off, and computers are often kept tucked away in dim corners. Looking at the machine from an angle, it's not always obvious which connectors are where, especially if you're not a techy who could name ports in their sleep.
And probably patent-protected by Dell and needing licensing cost, instead of coming up with something they could patent themselves.
(Yes, it's a workstation. Yes, I have worked with engineers who did this. Don't make life any harder for your users than you have to.)
You've gotta admit it looks like at best slightly varying shades of grey in that shot. Though they did make it worse with lighting effects - maybe they put the panel in the shade here so the LED feature would stand out more when it gets turned on later?
No harm done if they do that.
I thought not.
Not all the time, but...yes, sometimes.
On my MacBook Pro, the headphone jack and the microphone jack take the same kind of plug but function differently. The only difference is label and position, but the label is tiny and relatively low contrast so it's hard to see clearly. One option is to plug it in, see if it works, then try the other one. Or remember positionally which one is which (headphone jack turns out to be the closer one). Another option is to squint at the tiny label, which I have been known to do on occasion.