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Apple Designer Jonathan Ive Talks About Steve Jobs and New Products (time.com)
166 points by srikar on Mar 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments



I found the entire article unpleasant to read. It felt servile and sycophantic.

For instance :

> "...The iMac banished complicated, hard-to-use PCs from our desks and made computing easy."

> "...the two men set out on their maniacal journey to remake what they saw as the bland, lazy world around them.."

> "...Tomorrow doesn’t wait for the man who designs it."

Seriously?

> "... It looks like all the other dull, un-Apple-like glass and beige — yes, beige — concrete blocks."

This last one isn't so much worshipful as ironic, considering the color chosen by Jobs for the original Macintosh.


> servile and sycophantic

If one applies the typical standards of high school English to this article, asking "What is it trying to communicate?" "What is someone trying to tell me?" etc., one will be left very empty. It's a puff piece, inflating a corporate celebrity. All of the text is designed to persuade you that "yes, indeed, this man surely is impressive. Yes, this company is impressive."

With all that gleaming prose, it's easy to forget all the things one might want to know, such as, "How can I do this, too?" or "Are there any pitfalls or problems with this?" "Are these appropriations of resources worth it or is this a Dutch tulip fiasco playing out in slow-motion?" "Why are people so starved for quality in other parts of their lives that they demand quality in their digital appliances?"

But none of that really matters, b/c Time is a dying, over-inflated magazine, so they'll just put "Apple" and "Design" in a headline, mollify people with fascinating details with no hint of self-reflection and call it a day.

In short, this an article for sheep, not people trying to figure out how to make the world good.



Time has been circling the drain for a while. This is another beat of the same tune.


Journalism in general. They've figured out it's more profitable to say something made-up, pretty sounding, and fake than to actually report the news.


Confirming already held opinions or large audiences is usually very profitable.


If you do it with exclusivity, high fees, and the trappings of alpha male power, you can make money like Gartner.


Well its not like they had to look far for inspiration, some of the products of the 30s through 50s were amazing. When manufactures, designers and engineers, started down the path of mass production many of them did it with beautifully designed products, from lights, dishes, appliances, to cars.

Being a fan of the art deco periods and vintage glass its not like Apple invented getting it down to the details, however they may be worth crediting for reminding us of when design, appearance, and quality, could all go together. Got a toaster from the 50s that meets all of those and still works; 1B16


Ive actually doesn't know as much about proper design beyond the computing field; his horribly disfigured Leica M design is proof of that. Recessed dials? A photographer wouldn't be caught dead without quick access to ISO, aperture values, shutter speed, and exposure metering/bracketing. Fumbling around with fingernails inside a recessed dial is the last thing you want to do when a child is running between two trees and the sunlight is streaming down on him, mottled from the shadows of the trees, and you've got the perfect shot.

Minimalism gone too far? I suppose so.


That camera is rather ugly indeed, but as an (non digital) M owner:

> Recessed dials? A photographer wouldn't be caught dead without quick access to ISO, aperture values, shutter speed, and exposure metering/bracketing.

Plenty of cameras that photographers use don’t have direct access to many of those settings.

> Fumbling around with fingernails inside a recessed dial is the last thing you want to do when a child is running between two trees and the sunlight is streaming down on him, mottled from the shadows of the trees, and you've got the perfect shot.

You would miss that shot with any Leica M ever made, unless you were already set at ƒ/8 and hyperfocal, in which case this one would work just as well.

You would probably miss that shot with an H5D too, and I’m pretty sure some photographers find that useful.

Finally, that camera was not made to take pictures. It’s sad, maybe, but that’s just the way it is.

Criticism gone too far, I think.


I'm sorry micampe, but that's total crap. As the parent comment said, Leica cameras are very much designed to be used, they were the photojournalist's top choice for decades. Recessed dials is moronic. If Ive can't design a Leica that can actually be functional then it doesn't speak very highly for his product design skills.

If you had used a Leica M you wouldn't be spouting such nonsense about f/8 and hyperfocal.

the H5D? that bears not a single resemblance to a Leica M (non digital), it's a digital, autofocus medium format SLR, as opposed to a film, manual focus, 35mm rangefinder.

A competent photographer would get that shot using either an M or H5D, it's the amateurs with no idea that miss shots.


Oh my, you got me, I just keep it in a display case.

Such anger. Wow.


> Ive actually doesn't know as much about proper design beyond the computing field

That's a heck of a claim from what amounts to an anonymous kid on the internet.


Just reading the first sentence was enough for me. Apple has a good enough marketing team already; they don't need to have Time Magazine do this. I think this article is a bad idea for Apple's PR in general. I'm not even sure what they are trying to accomplish. They praise his "humility" in the subtitle text, and then go on to say all these things. Incredibly stupid.


Anything public from a multi-billion corporation is expected to be "servile and sycophantic".


TIL: "The adjective sycophantic is perfect for describing someone who uses flattery to get what they want. The sycophantic guy in your biology class might compliment the professor on her fabulous shoes as he hands in his lab report."


> A phone is just a phone, not the second coming of Christ. “What people are responding to is much bigger than the object. They are responding to something rare — a group of people who do more than simply make something work, they make the very best products they possibly can. It’s a demonstration against thoughtlessness and carelessness,”

> [...]when I ask whether he is flattered or frustrated when he sees his designs so widely referenced, reworked — ok, copied. “It’s theft,” he replies in a heartbeat, his eyes narrowing sharply.

Isn't that the real shame here? I admire Apple for their undisputed ability to strike these marvels of design and the way in which they are immitated does reinforce that they have condensed their solutions into something true, something fundamental. And - fluffiness aside, I do think they serve as demonstrations "against thoughtlessness and carelessness". I admire it in a similar way that I admire how wikipedia has become the encyclopedia. The difference is that in the latter, we have realized that it is a common good that needs to be shared, not an asset that a company posesses.

I understand the enormous amount of work that Ive and his team have put into these devices and they are justified in thinking that they deserve a lot of glory for them. But maybe they are looking for it in the wrong places?

Maybe the identity crisis that Apple has isn't so much their inability to find the next big thing, but their over-attachment to their past hits? Perhaps the key to new glory is letting go of the old glory and sharing it with the world, their ego removed from the equation?


> Maybe the identity crisis that Apple has isn't so much their inability to find the next big thing, but their over-attachment to their past hits? Perhaps the key to new glory is letting go of the old glory and sharing it with the world, their ego removed from the equation?

Compare Microsoft's attachment to, and unwillingness to consider letting go of, Windows, with Apple's triaging of the iPod and Mac...


Windows 8, for all of its faults, comprehensively demonstrated that it isn't Microsoft that's unwilling to let go of Windows - it's their customers (which isn't surprising for a company whose products are in the process of being disrupted).


"We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things. our success is a victory for purity, integrity — for giving a damn."

Surely he's not talking about the headphones supplied with iDevices.


Or the MacBook charge cables that consistently break and need replaced on nearly a yearly basis.



I've seen many complaints about the charge cables, but never had an issue myself. Are there just some bad batches running around, or is it a particular model that's had issues?


I think it's just the design. Where the cables exit the brick they are prone to strain -- the connection wire comes straight out. When you put the connector away, no matter how you do this, there will be some strain on the cable at this point.

To some extent all power bricks will have some problems like this. I just think that the apple power supplies are particularly poorly designed. I've had a Dell and a macbook pro. The bog standard power supply on the Dell lasted 5+ years of daily use. The apple connector -- which I cared for more than the Dell -- lasted just over a year.


It's a problem with people who think they can wind a power cable tightly around something hundreds of times, pay no attention to strain on it or to abusing the weak point where it enters the charger, and then are mystified when it finally fails.

Apple's chargers are in fact much, much tougher than the competition's; this is obvious if you just look at the construction for five seconds and even more obvious if you go read a tear-down of them.


> this is obvious if you just look at the construction for five seconds

BS. When they introduced the current design they had no strain relief, because Steve Jobs thought they were ugly. Guess what? You need a damn strain relief. Year by year their strain reliefs have gotten longer and longer, but they still have a sharp cutoff (that looks pretty, I'll grant them that) that causes the cable to bunch up and break.

And they've made mistakes with their materials choices as well. My parents had a Magsafe charger by the TV, used when sitting in the sofa. After a couple years, the plastic in the little clip you're supposed to use to wind up the cable reacted with the plastic in the cable, and if you moved it, it just tore the cable sheathing apart.

> more obvious if you go read a tear-down of them

The electronics are solid, I'll grant them that. But in the exterior they made tradeoffs for looks.


Nope. Had a white magsafe power adapter, never wound the cable tightly, cable basically fell apart. This same macbook also had the plastic case falling apart.

It was an acknowledged design flaw, and Apple fixed it with more strain relief on later models, and a changed angle for a real fix.

The durability of the charger has little to do with the presence of a design flaw in the cable.


To be fair, the windy-feet that Apple puts on their power bricks encourage users to do it. I figure that if I need a big coil for the line voltage side I might as well put the DC end in the same size loops, so I never use the built in cable winding. Haven't had any problems except for a close call with a rabbit.

Then again, I don't carry it that frequently because the battery life is usually enough. Somebody who puts more wear on them would be more likely to have problems, but I'm not convinced they're so much worse than adapters from other companies.


I've had a moderately sizeable interaction with various forms of cabling throughout my private and business life, and no, Apple cables generally have terrible strain relief. The cables might be otherwise nice, but the strain relief is generally awful.


For me the biggest issue is that Apple went too far in trading utility for portability with their adapters. For instance, there's at least one model of MacBook Pro (from a few years back) that, when it's running flat out, drains its battery even when plugged in. I know that's a perfectly reasonable tradeoff for the many people who don't use the full power of their laptop most of the time, but for someone who wants to it's frustrating (especially since, so far as I can tell, there isn't even a more powerful adapter you can buy up to).

I happen to prefer "the brick" Lenovo bundled with a comparable laptop. It does the job when plugged in (can charge the battery even if the laptop is going full blast) and there are adapters I can buy down to if I want something more portable.


What's funny is he goes on to pretend that iPhones are expensive because they're made with space age technologies like DIAMOND TIPPED CUTTERS.

Shame that their margins are public knowledge and we know he's talking utter shit.


Diamond tip cut iPhones are the "steel cut oats" of the tech world.


I like this sentiment, to a point. Steel cut oats do have a special value when the only available alternative is "instant oatmeal."

Not saying that's the case here, but that a true gradient in offerings is not always existent.


It's not that there is no alternative to steel cut oats that aren't "instant", alternatives aren't the point. It's that the "steel cut" part is marketing bullshit. If I put two cups of oats, one cut down with a steel sickle and one with a plastic, there is going to be no discernible difference in taste.


I actually really liked the previous-generation Apple earphones -- decent sound-quality, while also letting in lots of outside noise, which makes them safe-ish when used on the street. The latest generation sadly (and ironically) doesn't fit in my ear.

So far, when I see someone trashing Apple headphones, they go on to recommend something which forms a tight-seal in the ear -- without a doubt better sounding, but really a different category of product.


IEMs (in-ear monitors, the earbuds which form a seal in the ear) are actually safer to use. The admission of background noise encourages users to turn up the volume, risking damage to their hearing, especially in loud environments where one is bound to use earphones (like subway trains).

Me, I take one earbud out when I am in an area that requires auditory attention to my surroundings.


Safe outside? Big white arrow pointing to something expensive in your pocket!


Safer in that you can hear whats around you, I meant :)


Or the Apple Store update servers for Mac OS X, who prompt a "Couldn't get the updates on the server at this time. Please try at a later time". Or the little black plastic pads covering the screws below MacBook Pros who get loose so easily, or tons of other examples like that. Apple products are rather good in terms of build, but it's not like it's the greatest ever either.


This is not an interview. This is a write-up, a summary or a report, of an interview. Is that a Time/US-thing?

It's a pity, I would have enjoyed a real interview with him.


I'm guessing he doesn't work on the Maps app, or Siri. Apologies for the snark but when you're playing at this level and talking big talk about how great your products are, you gotta back it up.


No one will seriously argue against the superior build quality of Apple devices. Siri has way to go but Maps is almost there so soon there will be no point in giving your data to Google.


I still think Google Maps search is heads and shoulders above Apple Maps'. Also, the transit directions exist and work well. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps have massively betrayed me with directions.


Google Maps still has much better data, which arguably is what's most important but to me Apple Maps has a better UI. For example, Google Maps has a much lower frame rate and in general is less fluid and responsive than Apple maps.

I wish that Google provided the data and Apple the front-end design, just like in the good old days.


Right. It's amazing how much more responsive Maps was on iOS 3, even only with EDGE bandwidth!


Apple needs to step their game up. The Mac Pro is arguably the most interesting they have produced in the last few years. Macbooks, while still elegant, haven't had a major design update since 2009. iPhone and iPad updates were evolutionary. iOS 7 is a travesty of aesthetic shortcomings, elementary design errors and bugs. Apple can't afford to be smug any more.


>> "Macbooks, while still elegant, haven't had a major design update since 2009."

The retina display and removal of optical disk drives are pretty major design updates. The screen is arguably the most important part of a laptop and making it retina while still maintaining good battery life is a huge deal.


By design I mean their physcial look and feel, the industrial design. They are starting to look stale.


The flip side of looking stale is looking iconic.

(not saying I personally feel they are, but they definitely have an unmistakable look over the years, similar to a BMW 3 series)


I understand what you mean but physically the screen is one of the major parts of the design. What really needs changed about the rest of it? It's incredibly thin, durable, attractive. I agree it's a stale design but I'm finding it very hard to think of anyway they could change the appearance that would be an improvement.


What the hell? Fingers off my beloved MacBook! They spent so much time perfecting it (and continue doing so). I want Apple to do that, not flashy fashion bullshit.


They could at least do something about the sharp edge that cuts into your wrists in some positions.


> They are starting to look stale.

In comparison to what? You cannot say that without backing it up. If we are going to critique design, let's do it properly.


Sooooooooo...

"We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them."

I am certainly a big believer in "giving a damn" about design and code. I completely believe that people "feel" the care that went into a product. I myself have agonized over a detail without any direct evidence that anyone, anywhere, would ever notice or care.

But I'm not sure this type of dismissive talk is the right way to relay the message. There are objects that are intended to fulfill specific requirements and budgets. Apple has the luxury of selling high-end products to people, like me, who are lucky enough to afford (unsubsidized) $600 phones. We take it for granted, but that's not the norm for a bunch of great people.

There's an office chair at Staples that is uglier than the chair I sit in. The materials simply don't compare. But then neither would the price. There are people who just need a damn chair, and don't have a bunch of money to afford a "non-anonymous" chair designed by somebody who "cared." In fact, to the contrary, I'm certain the designer of the cheap chair appreciates his or her job, is trying to provide for a family, and would care not to lose their job.

Elon Musk made a similar comment. He said the actual cost to the manufacturer of a car in terms of product design is negligible. You could design the most beautiful car in the world without dramatically changing the sticker price for the finished product. So maybe Kia should go for it: spend millions of dollars per year and put together the best design shop the industry has ever known! Design an incredible new studio for them to work in. Give them the best tools. A completely new prototyping facility to print their designs. Hire color consultants to get the paint just right.

And then tell them they can only use the materials and manufacturing process of today's $12,000 car, and somehow ensure the incredible demand for the most beautiful car ever conceived did not impact the price in any way.

Is it any wonder Tesla, despite Musk's claims, is working his way from the top of the market, and not the bottom?

Tim Cook said last year something similar with regard to Android tablets. He said those tablets are collecting dust (my cheap, $199 Nexus 7 is not). If a parent really cared about their children's education, they would opt for a more expensive iPad because it has better children's apps (probably true right now).

This is the same line of communication that Ive demonstrates here. To me, it's dismissive. I actually love my little daughter a whole bunch. I'm crazy about her. I don't measure that love in dollars, and I actually think a cheaper, more durable Nexus 7 is the better option for her to play with right now.

Apple's communications are borderline dismissive to people who are less fortunate and less lucky. I don't think that's intentional, because they are full of wonderful people, but I wish they would be more careful in their communication. Marketing should be optimistic and aspirational, not dismissive and elitist.


Ive is selling a Mercedes, not a Chevy. By that I mean there is a very carefully curated image of Apple and the products it sells and the people who buy them that he is working to maintain with his words.

I read the whole article, and it's a total fluff piece. It's a hit for Apple's PR machine. Their message is: we are trying to appeal to people who purport to care about quality. We come across as just a little arrogant, but not so arrogant as to be off-putting to the people who want to buy our stuff.

Honestly, if you want to buy a $199 Nexus 7 for your daughter, you should do so and not feel bad about it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with (1) buying a chair from Staples, or (2) being an employee of the company that makes the Staples office chair.

But if you're buying a Mercedes, you need a little affirmation that you shouldn't feel guilty that some people can only afford Chevy. And now you have an article in Time magazine that gives you that affirmation.


Honestly, I think Apple makes stellar products (I won't use them because of IP issues, but they're still incredible produts) but talk like that - claiming your competition doesn't give a crap and is just throwing shoddy goods out the door? It reeks of desperation.

Android has its faults, but it would be absurd to say that Google doesn't care about the platform. The Nexus line itself demonstrates that they want these devices to be delightful and well-designed in the way Apple machines are.

Yes, there are devices out there that are good for no-one. Machines that are unfit for any purpose other than marking bullet-pointed features at a low price. But to tar the entire industry outside of Apple with this label is the height of absurdity.


Exaggeration perhaps, but hardly desperation. The thing is Google and many of the Android device manufacturers really do thow shoddy goods out the door. not always, not every product, not every time, but embarrassingly often. Anyone remember the first generation Google TV boxes with unusable UIs in which vital controls would be completely hidden by other UI elements, rendering the whole thing essentially unusable? Even in the official unveiling demo they hit problems like that. Or the big push for Flash on Android in which, during the launch presentation, ever single attempt to run Flash lead to a crash and system lockup? Good times. Then there was the early nexus 7, with crippled flash memory drivers that led to chronic system performance degradation that they didn't fix for a whole year.

Of course eventually some issues like this get fixed. The first few products may be duds, but the 3rd or 4th iteration might be quite good, and the fifth might be fantastic. Of course that's where these companies want to get to. But meanwhile how many thousands of customers bought the first few versions? Who's standing up for them?

Sure Apple can bring out duds too, products that fail to take off, or have serious limitations. Some of the early Macbook Airs couldn't play full-screen video properly, but at least they could play video. When was the last time Apple brought out a product that was truly unfit for purpose?


Well, no one knew it at the time, but Safari was horrifically unfit for purpose as a web browser for over a year (goto fail).

Or we could talk about the random reboots (worse than any of the many Android devices or Windows PCs I've used in the last several years) and other serious bugs that plagued iOS 7 (not all of which have been fixed). For instance, this music syncing bug:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5324398?start=0&tstart=...

which, if you are unlucky enough to encounter it, can render a previously-working iPod almost completely unfit for purpose. When my wife's iPod got trapped in this issue the only reason we didn't get rid of it is that we also kept our music at Amazon, so she was able to successfully switch to Amazon Cloud Player. Or we could talk about the stubborn persistence of Wi-Fi gremlins with some device/OS combinations or ...

Apple may have a better batting average than most, but they have their share of strikeouts as well.


> The thing is Google and many of the Android device manufacturers really do thow shoddy goods out the door. not always, not every product, not every time, but embarrassingly often.

And sometimes they put out products that many people think are embarrassingly bad that turn out to be wonderful (e.g. Galaxy Note). Apple and the Android ecosystem have radically different development models. Merely looking at the raw output is a poor way to understand what's really going on.


iPhone 4 was pretty terrible at being a cell phone.


I used one for 2 years and now my wife uses it every day. What's supposed to be wrong with it?



Really? My colleague still uses his original iPhone 4 and doesn't have a problem with the antenna. He bought it on launch day. (He tells me it is starting to feel pretty slow, however.)

The antenna thing was a non-issue. Steve Jobs arrogant replies on the topic ("you're holding it wrong") certainly helped it blow up in the media.


Did you own one? I used mine for over two years, and never suffered from antenna issues.

This was a silly, overblown issue.


Except for the huge number of people who had zero problems with it or its reception, myself included.


was it maps?


Yes I think that's a fair one, which Apple completely owned up to. In fact one of their top executives list his job over it, that's how seriously Apple takes slip ups like that.

How many Google, Samsung, HTC, execs havevlietvyheir jobs over putting out sub par products? Not over losing money or failed business decisions, but purely over the quality of the user experience?


It's like TV-shop. They always compare their product side to side with "other products", where "other products" is always the most low-end equivalent you can image.


Now I want to see a bad informercial for an iPhone with hilarious videos of people fumbling with $40 resistive knock-off Chinese android phones a-la http://reddit.com/r/wheredidthesodago


So maybe Kia should go for it: spend millions of dollars per year and put together the best design shop the industry has ever known! Design an incredible new studio for them to work in.

Interesting that you used KIA for this example. Several years ago they hired celebrity designer - Peter Schreyer, responsible for Audi TT and New Beetle - to do just that. And current KIAs are much better designed and still cheapest cars in NA market.


This is an important and oft-ignored point: South Korean car manufacturers like Kia invested a huge amount of money to both improve quality and to put design at the forefront of new vehicle developments, all in order to beat more established manufacturers. It has proven a successful strategy.


As Marge Simpson once said: "We can't afford to shop at a store which has a philosophy".


> Apple's communications are borderline dismissive to people who are less fortunate and less lucky

I'd agree if we were in a 3rd world country somewhere, but we (probably both) aren't. People who need to save $200 on a tablet where we live very likely do not need said tablet at all. In the end we just often buy inferior products (in design, functionality and longevity) in order to be able to purchase a larger total number of unnecessary items. We absurdly feel we've put our money to better use if we spent it on more things, most of which we cannot put to good use anyway.

It's why we get to buy so much broken crap these days (I was going to keep Apple vs. Everyone out of this, but I still use my 1st gen iPad while the only Android tablet I ever bought, an Archos HD97 never worked properly - due to flaky WiFi hardware apparently).

> Is it any wonder Tesla, despite Musk's claims, is working his way from the top of the market, and not the bottom?

Musk explained this many years ago. It has nothing to do with the cost of design: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/secret-tesla-motors-master-p...


> People who need to save $200 on a tablet where we live very likely do not need said tablet at all. In the end we just often buy inferior products (in design, functionality and longevity) in order to be able to purchase a larger total number of unnecessary items. We absurdly feel we've put our money to better use if we spent it on more things, most of which we cannot put to good use anyway.

This statement seems totally divorced from my reality.

I live in the US, albeit one of the poorer states. I do, however, make nearly twice the median household income. My mortgage consumes approximately one-quarter of my after-tax income.

But $200 is definitely a significant amount of money to me. Nearly all my money is spent on necessities - by which I mean food, electricity, medical, propane, gas, household and car repairs, etc. I am left over with a few hundred dollars a month in "spending" money, of which I prefer to save at least half. I am definitely not spending that in an endeavor to comfort myself with a bunch of junk.

But it would take some serious consideration and a really, really good reason for me to spend an extra $200 on a product. There must be some extra use case extremely important to me to justify spending an extra $200 - just better design or some bonus functionality is not sufficient. That said, I do take longevity into account - I am typing this on a nearly 8 year old Dell laptop - because I try to look at the total cost, and buying a replacement factors into that.

In my experience, people either do what I do, or just give up altogether and buy cheap because that's all they can afford and its Good Enough.

It's difficult for me to even fathom having the attitude that "if you can't spend $200 more, you don't need it." I would argue that I do "need" a tablet (as far as anyone does) - I travel frequently and it would be very nice to have, and even when I am at work I walk around a lot. But I'm not looking at an iPad and cost is the main consideration there. For me it's down the a Kindle Fire (cheap, OK for consumption, call this a probably) or Surface Pro (expensive, but would be much more useful for my use cases, but not very likely because of cost.)


$200 is not a small amount of money for most people.

It's also pretty offensive how you casually decide what people do and do not need.

Sure, I technically don't need a lot of things; I could probably live on a diet mostly consisting of cabbage, egg and rice. Does that mean I should, if I can't afford to eat foie gras?


> Does that mean I should, if I can't afford to eat foie gras?

This is just begging for a scathing reply. Please eat healthy food and if necessary, buy fewer Android tablets to afford it. Foie gras likely isn't good for you, cabbage, egg and rice is probably a much better diet.


How is that begging for a scathing reply?

>People who need to save $200 on a tablet where we live very likely do not need said tablet at all

You essentially said that if you cant afford the 200 dollars more for an arguably better product, you don't actually need it or its substitutes.

I made an analogy with food. Just because I can't afford to eat something expensive doesn't mean I shouldn't eat anything beyond the cheapest basic staples.

I could have just as easily made the analogy in another way, say with tools: i.e. if I can't afford the extra 200 dollars for a better, more powerful drill, I don't need a drill at all.

A tablet is in essence a tool, just like a drill is.

The reason I found this offensive is because you're talking about need as if you're its great arbiter. You don't know if a guy making 500 dollars a week needs a tablet for some reason, but you at least appear to think he doesn't deserve one if he can't afford the apple model.


> I made an analogy with food.

But electronic gadgets aren't food. One of my points was that they are (to the extent we spend money on) not necessary. It's indicative of an attempt to derail this that you chose an analogy with, of all things, food (which is kinda necessary, don't you agree?).

> You don't know if a guy making 500 dollars a week needs a tablet for some reason, but you at least appear to think he doesn't deserve one if he can't afford the apple model.

If had meant to imply that, I'd have written it that way. I made a broad, general statement because that's exactly what I was trying to communicate: we (that includes me) spend too much on gadgets, the cheaper, the better, without thinking about actual need and quality first (before price). I'm not going to judge individual decisions without looking into them, so don't insinuate that I would.


The point you are defending is not the point you stated.

You stated >People who need to save $200 on a tablet where we live very likely do not need said tablet at all

You are defending the point >People where we live very likely do not need said tablet at all


You're missing the point. Once you have a subsistence diet (i.e. the cabbage, egg and rice), better and/or more food isn't strictly necessary. It's just desirable.

So your tablet argument becomes: "if I can't afford the foie gras, I shouldn't bother with a decent cheese plate either", which is obviously wrong for a variety of reasons (including that some people just don't like foie gras).


On the other hand, my ASUS tablet I bought over two years ago, the first generation of its kind, still works as well as it did then, which is pretty damn good, while the macbook pro I was inflicted with for work crashes regularly (as in "spinning rainbow/beachball of doom my screen is frozen I have to hard-reset" crashes). But that sleek aluminum case sure looks nice (to some--to me it looks a bit like its trying too hard to be some kind of futuristic/industrial hybrid).

I have got some news for you: the quality of parts in your Apple products isn't significantly better than those in its competitors, because they are from the same sources over in east Asia.


If your MacBook Pro has less than 8 GB RAM, I'd upgrade. Also, your hard drive may be about to crash.


Uh, that's not a crash. That's a sign you need to either do your spring cleaning better, or take it to your IT guy and find out what's hanging.

My first guess: your disk is nearly full. This will choke any machine.


If your computer freezes, it's a crash, regardless of the underlying reason. The computer is no longer responding properly. Something has broken. It might be reasonable that it has broken, like an aged drive that needs replacing, but it's still broken/crashed/whathaveyou.

Disk being nearly full choking any machine? No. Stopping some things from working properly if they want to write new files maybe, but it shouldn't make your operating system unresponsive. If a writable drive was required to run a responsive OS, you wouldn't be able to do neat tricks like read-only mounted linux desktops.


Fair point, but if you believe that tablets are a gateway to cheap education and interactive learning for children (I do), I wouldn't say that poor communicates don't need tablets. I know it might seem like a luxury, an excess, or something you _want_ but do not _need_, but I'm not sure that's the case. I think it's easy and more impactful to get a cheap tablet in the hands of someone in need to help them learn, than a big computer. Particularly in urban communities, there might be something pretty profound about getting more tablets in front of young kids. It's up to them what they search for and what they learn, and it's up to us to nudge them in the right direction in terms of pre-loaded apps and websites - but I do believe there's something there. I don't care ONE BIT if the aluminum bevel is more beautiful or less beautiful, in that case.

Anyway, I think you and I generally agree. I would just say you don't have to go to a third world country to find someone who wants to save $200 on a tablet. You can find communities right here in America where their children have limited access to quality education, or bad temptations outside of classroom hours, and I would argue a cheap tablet _with the right content and direction_ might have a real impact.

Not that we should be outsourcing parenting to computers............

:-)


I'm not convinced (yet?) that tablets are good for children. I might be a bit too old, lacking the parenting experience, but I'm skeptical because a tablet might consume too much time better spent on exploring the rest of the world and it comes with a lot of content built by people whose primary consideration wasn't to teach children, but instead to make a quick buck. It might be better than TV (arguably...), but interacting with other people, animals, more "natural" objects ranks a lot higher with me...


This weekend, in between makeing a home for a catapiller we found on the way home from the park and riding bikes in the circle at the end of our street, my daughter said, 'daddy can we play the game (Hopscotch) where me make the animals move when we touch the screen. And she doesn't even know that I am showing her how to program (with an ipad). I'm sure there are android, windows, etc equivalents.

My point is that as her parent/teacher/friend it's up to me to show her when to use it as a tool for school, learning, manipulating and when to use it to consume. This is a much finer line as she can easily get lost in tangents of rainbow loom videos and forget that she started watching them to learn to weave a new bracelet. But apps like Hopscotch are genius for disguising logic, creative and critical thinking into a fun activity she considers a game.

So I posit that they are good. Like anything else good they should be used in moderation and it's up to the parentals to teach them how to use the tool instead of consuming from the tool. Both actities are using the tablet, but without moderation and guidance it's like giving a child access to unlimited money and expecting them to manage their finances themselves.

With regards to the quick buck apps - I tell here we don't download those b/c they just pop annoying adds and the other games she wants that have in app upgrades she has to save up her allowance ($3/week) if she wants them.

I'm saying that I think one can have both the tablet interaction along with the 'natural' interaction. And I say this as a biology major who grew up on 5 acres with a natural aquifer and a ravine that fed a 50 acre swamp. The onus is on the parents of the touch screen generation to recognize the dual potential for both creation & learning and consumption of the devices. The hard part is showing them how to balance the two or taking it away altogether and catching catapillers with them.


Good design is cheap, timeless and virtually invisible. The world is full of products so brilliantly designed that they have endured for decades unchanged, because there is nothing left to improve. We don't notice these products, because they are ubiquitous and seem to have been there forever. The iPhone/iPad is the initiator of such a breed of design, and modern handheld devices are broadly converging on a similar featureless slab design. Before long, we'll all have forgotten that things were ever any different, just as the Mac's WIMP interface went from being a revolution to the default within a decade or so.

The ballpoint pen, the bottlecap, the Clipper lighter, cinderblocks, the Yale lock and key. We're surrounded by objects of sublime brilliance, most of which are trivially inexpensive, but we just don't notice them because they're part of the fabric of our lives.

Look at the faucet in your bathroom. It's a shitty, ugly piece of design, because all faucets are awful. Go to Home Depot and you'll see a hundred different kinds of faucet, all of them ugly in their own way, all of them annoying to use. Maybe one day, some genius will invent a brilliant new kind of faucet that becomes a fashion item, then a much-imitated fad, then just how faucets look, then just how all faucets have always looked. But before that can happen, some smart people need to care more about faucets than anything else in the world.


Tesla is working its way from the top of the market because battery packs are very expensive right now and because general uncertainty (and particularly range anxiety) when it comes to electric cars makes owning a Tesla as your only vehicle an unpalatable proposition for the majority of people. It has absolutely nothing to do with design.


Oh, my point was not to criticize Tesla's strategy. They chose the correct strategy. Working from the top down is the right course when you need to preserve funds (high margins) and can't yet scale (general production, battery, limited demand at the time). My point was simply that it's a flawed argument to say you can maintain high margins, while still servicing the mass market with the absolute best design, materials, manufacturing.

If a car manufacturer could, it would be disruptive - but it's the exception, not the rule. That said, I think Tesla's the most likely candidate to do this! But it's worth noting they did it from the top moving downstream. It's more difficult to do this when you're starting at the position of a Kia or even a Toyota. It's not just about throwing money at the problem, and that, I believe, is contrary to Musk's argument.


I don't think there's much in that car manufacturers can not do to be far more competitive with lower margins. Look at today's mid-upper range from say Hyundai, they tend to have a lot of features that would be in a 2-4 year old Buick or Mercedes for 1/2 to 1/4 the price.

I had a 2009 Hyudai Sonata 4-dr with the v6 before my current car, and liked it a lot. It was about 1/2 the price of the car I have now. To be honest, I can't even really get the most out of my V8 for day to day driving, and mostly got the new car for coolness factor (2012 Challenger R/T). There's times I also miss my pickup truck.

I also accept that for the most part, I'm not most people. Just the same, I have no doubt that Hyundai or Kia could match Mercedes, BMW, Catillac and the like for a significantly lower price. The rules of economics still apply though. The image of a "lesser" brand would not be offset by higher quality to increase demand/price. Why do you think Toyota sells their high end under the Lexus brand?

Beyond all this, there's nothing wrong with selling a product for as much as you can get.


An all-electric vehicle is definitively a design choice.

That design choice directly impacts who Tesla targets with their products.


There are many things around us with an attention to detail and care that are often taken for granted or overlooked. They aren't always necessarily expensive things, either, yet the thought and attention behind them is clear.

The original Macintosh was a pretty small team, and there were other tech companies with more resources than Apple at the time, but they still managed to produce some outstanding products at affordable prices.

I didn't feel the sentiment Ive was making in the piece was dismissive, but rather he was quietly proud that the company's vision has always been to create well thought-out and well-designed products that people can appreciate the effort behind.


> Apple's communications are borderline dismissive to people who are less fortunate and less lucky.

I couldn't disagree more. I think it's condescending to treat less fortunate people differently this way. Almost everyone aspires to someday have all the nice fancy things they want. The worst thing a maker of premium products can do is apologize for making premium products. People want to believe someday they will be able to have all the nice fancy things. They don't want to be told essentially 'sorry you are too poor to buy my product. you'll probably never be able to afford them"


There is a principle in design (it probably has a name) that a highly designed product can be polarising to end consumers.

The goal is sometimes to make a product no one hates rather than a product half the market adores and the other half hate.

A £16,000 car is (usually) a primarily utilitarian purchase so a strong polarising design ethic is somewhat risky, We are not talking about Bugatti Veyrons or even BMW M5's.


I'm very interested in Musk's comment. Do you know where I can find a source?

I do automotive product development and I've always felt that materials really do make a difference. I also feel that time can sometimes play a bigger difference to perfect design than cost.


Let us not forget, he designed the "Puck Mouse" that came with the iMac and G3 towers...


Wait a minute.. are you suggesting that he got better as a designer throughout his career? I thought that was a trait unique only to us hackers.


For those who have never seen one, here is a picture http://fishbowl.pastiche.org/archives/pictures/three-apple-m...


I actually liked the puck mouse DEC bundled with their DECStations and VAXStations.

http://arvutimuuseum.ut.ee/images/decstation_3100_mouse.jpg


I was never blessed with anything past a VT220 so didn't get to play with one of them. Really did like the VAX series of machines though. First day on the job, I was introduced to a VAXcluster that has an uptime of 6 years. Good times.


Don't feel bad. I only got to play with it for a couple hours. Maybe one day I'll be able to own one.


what have you designed?


Many enclosures for electronic equipment, front panel designs for avionics and military equipment, many software interfaces, my house (which I'm trying to get planning permission for).

I even built software for design and simulation of electronic equipment do you can test usability before you commit to building.


I wasn't literally asking that for a list. I was asking it to make a point. If you haven't designed anything used by other people, you are in a poor position to criticize since you have no frame of reference. And if you have, you'd realize failure is a part of getting to a good design since it shows your willingness to take risks.

In other words, criticizing a design is fair. The puck mouse sucked. Criticizing a person because they created a poor design is not and shows a lack of awareness of what design work involves.


Mr. Ive - what the hell has been going on with Apple mice in the last 16 years?


I don't see much wrong with them, other than the new backwards scrolling, disappearing scrollbars and rubberbanding. I use the Magic Mouse, which to me feels pretty nice. The only trouble I have really had is that they're crap for gaming. Then again, I don't touch my mouse very often.


Magic mouse (I own one): goes flat after only a month, nips your fingers at the sides when you press it, bottom keeps falling off, makes your hands hurt.

Mighty mouse (I owned one): ball that stopped working instantly when you used it and the only way to get it clean involved destroying the mouse.

Pro mouse (I owned one): cable frayed after no less than two weeks.

Apple USB puck mouse: just totally unusable pile of crap unfit for human use.

I decided to go for the innovative option in the end: the Microsoft £10 optical mouse. Works much better than anything Apple have ever thrown out.


The puck is horrible.

However, for regular office use Magic Mouse probably is the most pleasant mouse I've used (and I've used a lot of different models). Never been pinched. And it's in one piece still (bought it just after it was released).

For gaming it's more or less unusable though… I need my scroll to be tactile, and I also need to be able to use both mouse buttons at the same time. Long live Logitech MX 500/510/518 for fragging!

Too bad that you've had bad experiences with Magic Mouse.


For the Mighty Mouse you just need to kind of turn it upside down and roll it on a piece of paper to clean it out. But I guess you're right, the only time I really use a mouse for an extended period of time is when browsing the internet or in one of the crappy IntelliJ things which don't seem to even allow you to close a tab with the keyboard. Apple mice are bad, but I guess I meant that my experience hasn't been significantly worse with them than with other mice. But maybe I'm just an apple fanboy :(


I tried the paper trick but it didn't work for me after a couple of months. Got it replaced at Apple store and sold it quick.


You're holding them wrong. Seriously, what do you mean by 'goes flat'? The bottom wears off? Or battery? Just get a charger, not a big deal. Also, I can't find a position where it nips my fingers. Bottom doesn't fall of if you close it properly. I haven't had any of such problems with Magic Mouse, although I miss the middle button. Scrolling in both directions is much better than any other mouse.


Batteries. I bought a charger and Sanyo Eneloops (low self discharge). Life is terrible. Stick your fingers on the side and press the top down - ouch. Bottom does fall off mine even when closed "properly".


I think the crucial part is how you hold it. I suspect most people dislike the Magic Mouse because they hold it like a regular mouse. The way I hold it, on the other hand, is with a 'cupped' hand where my thumb and ring finger clasp the mouse and move it, my palm hovers pretty high above the mouse, and my index finger scrolls from slightly above the center of the mouse surface.

I'm not sure whether it's bad design that you 'should' hold it differently, but at least for me this is why I quite like the mouse.

(the bottom has started coming off though. that does bother me)


> The final straw came one rainy day when he drove to Hull to present his design for a new hand basin and toilet for ideal Standard.

I was born and have lived in Hull all my life and that sounds about right, in fairness the boss wearing a red nose for a charity day isn't that big a deal.

> boss lampooned his work as too modern and too expensive to build — while wearing a giant plastic red nose.

I suspect it contained a few more epithets than that.


" has meant we have known little about the man who shapes the future, with such innovations as the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad."

really? Ive regularly appears in public and gives interviews. there's a reason he's famous and well-known. sheesh.


>> Ive regularly appears in public and gives interviews.

Sources? I've only ever seen a few interviews with Ive, nothing in depth and usually related to design with very little emphasis on Apple.


http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=johnny%20ive&sm=...

I remember watching Ive in a conversation with Steven Fry on Fry's tour of the US. He was even on Charlie Rose.


I love the difference in rhetoric when things are written about Ive compared to Jobs. It's subtle, but shows how much we throw around credit:

"Ive helped transform computing" vs "Jobs transformed computing"


I like how every interviewer will try get a leading question about future product development, just in case there's a bit of senility that day "Oh yeah that jetpack we're...wait a minute!". It's a bit redundant, we know Apple will work on something new, we know they won't say.

Aside from that, nice to read some of Ives thoughts on design.


TLDR:

(This space intentionally left blank.)


“Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it’s made,”

Also goes for software.


Who is stealing from whom? Herr Dieter Rams would like to know.


tl;dr Ive is too humble to openly admit he is/was "the man who designs tomorrow". The first and last lines say it all.

This is, to me, a way to convey to the public that Apple's core is not dead with Jobs, after years of attributing him all the miracles.

Apple's brand is made of heroes and epics. Ive could well be the next one. The picture they used for the article tells a lot.

Good luck Apple ! You deserve it as a team


Definitely in Apple there are heroes and individual stars

Jobs was the center of it all

Do you think it would be better to have a more decentralized political structure?


So Time.com is a Wordpress blog with a header which covers half of the page,

pretty low level,


iOS7. What more needs to be said about Ives when left to his own devices. And by his own devices of course I mean jobs and Forstalls devices.

Stick to the pretty box Ives, know your limits.


What have you ever done other than snarked in the internet?


An incredible amount, thanks for your interest


I don't get this, I never will. So this journalist gets access to Ive himself, does an interview, then feels the need to hide that interview and retell it to us, inserting mini-quotes here there.

Why!?

Give us the damn interview!


I wonder if a condition of the interview was that it was abridged and Apple got to approve it before publication.


Almost assuredly.


Yeah, almost assuredly they approved of an abridged version talking about how Apple has hit a rough patch after Steve's death and how it costs $2 to make a $20 adapter (which wasn't a part of the interview to begin with). Please.




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