Design, telecoms, features: Apple leads in all areas

The launch of the iPhone in California last week shows that Apple has not lost its touch. It has countered criticism that it had reached a plateau in terms of design, based on last year’s relatively conservative launches, and demonstrated once more that it is ahead of the game and can even beat rivals in the densely populated mobile phone market (see feature, page 15).

How the iPhone performs financially in the long term remains to be seen, but the effect its launch had on share prices in the sector generally, and at Apple in particular, bodes well for its future. With usability top of the list for Apple design head Jonathan Ive and his team, we can look forward to a ‘smart’ phone that isn’t daunting to the technically inept and the quality of the iPod component is a given.

As well as setting a new benchmark in the mobile phone sector, with the iPhone Apple has given us a rare example of ‘total’ design. It embraces functionality and styling in a way that, because of the commercial and technical constraints imposed by clients, many designers can only dream of.

It couldn’t have been better timed as truly great products that perform commercially are in short supply. A journalist on a European business magazine confided only last week that he was finding it tough making the case for product design as an economic driver and found himself harking back to the heyday of Dyson and, indeed, Apple to make his point.

Proving design effectiveness is tough enough in any sector and marrying it with good-looking design is even tougher, as the Design Business Association has found. Even in branding design, which, being akin to marketing, can more easily be evaluated, only one ‘industrial’ example in recent years springs to mind as ticking all the boxes/ Elmwood’s naming and identity programme for waste management company Serious **.

So we welcome the iPhone for a host of reasons. Long may Apple continue to inspire and delight.

Lynda Relph-Knight

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