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Exit ArchiveArchive for November 2nd, 2007

Here’s a post from one of my favorite Apple-biased sites, Daring Fireball: “Apple Needs a Nikon.” John Gruber starts off by quoting Stephen Fry, a fantastic fellow with the writing skills of a really good guy with good writing skills (much like myself, if I do myself say so!), and a fellow who wrote a long, glowing post about his iPhone. Then John goes on a bit about design, bandying ideas I can’t agree with more.

I suppose what’s amazing is that Apple has done such wonderful work without any competition whatsoever. The new OS is, mostly, a marvel, and this without having anyone else define what a great OS should be. Microsoft certainly is nowhere near Apple when it comes to either OSs or design, though they would like to have you think they are. On the hardware front, Apple has zero design competition. Even though Gateway and Dell have stirred a tad, their efforts are marginal at best.

Though without competition, Apple does not design in a vacuum. It designs in the world as a whole. Its influences do not come strictly from other businesses relevant to itself, but from any good design anywhere. The shapes and colors and materials Apple has used, from the bondi-blue iMac of 1998 to the glass and aluminum iMac of today, are lovely and intriguing and different. That is good design no matter what it is you’re making.

Attention to quality, too, is an element of Apple’s successful design, as it is with any quality product from any realm. When you pick up an iPod, it’s built like nothing else, and it feels as good as its looks suggest. Pick up a lovely-looking Harman/Kardon TC 30, and the fit and finish, the button-feel, the cheapness of materials, and the lousy UI reveal what a poorly-thought-out product it really is. I have enjoyed owning a TC 30, but it is not a pleasure to use. Every iPod and Mac I have owned has been a pleasure to use.

So I have to wonder, thanks to John’s post: What if Apple did have a Nikon? Would we see even more marvelous baubles of technology than we have thus far? How much farther down the path of design, quality, and reliability can Apple go with some pushing?