Apple’s BAD For Design Because…

PUH-LEEZE! Peter Merholz, who I’ve read and followed avidly for about five months now plays right into the snark pit. Oh, the shame of it.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t claimed, “Apple’s bad for design because they don’t share their process.” (They may be bad for design. I’m not sure how. But it’s not for his stated reason!)

Hmmm… OK, Coca Cola’s bad cause they don’t share their recipe? Kentucky Fried Chicken? Michael Jordan!?

OK, so, a commercial success is bad when you can’t easily appreciate the SPECIFIC effort it took to “make it look easy”? Something proprietary like Apple’s design prowess is part and parcel with the mystique and the desirability of the product.

I sure don’t follow THAT line of thinking, Peter. That’s plain weird.

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8 Comments on “Apple’s BAD For Design Because…”

  1. peterme Says:

    I’m not saying Apple is bad.

    I’m saying Apple is bad for design, because they don’t support the practice of design, because they don’t share how they design. So people focus on the superficial, without understanding what it takes.

    Similarly, Coca-Cola is bad for soft drinks. By not sharing their recipe, others can’t figure out how they might improve the soft drink experience. Now, does that make Coca-Cola bad? No. Is that secrecy good for Coca-Cola’s business? Probably. But it’s not good for improving the world of soft drinks.

  2. aRdent Says:

    Let me see if I got this right. Apple is bad for design because they don’t put all of their genius in a simple-to-follow formula so that everyone else can say they are following the Apple formula and therefore their stuff must be equally wonderful.
    1. Look up “proprietary” in your reference of choice.
    2. Read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. Enough said.

  3. gwhiz Says:

    RD, seems that’s what Peter’s line was all about: Make it easy for competitors to mash YOUR killer stuff with THEIR killer stuff. Peanut Butter Cups this ain’t! Leave my damn chocolate alone! I don’t like peanut butter anyway! πŸ™‚

    Next thing you know we’ll have phones merging with MP3 players. What kind of sick world would THAT be?

  4. gwhiz Says:

    Thanks for the comment Peter. But, I’d submit just the opposite for consideration:

    Apple’s actually GREAT for design. I went to design school. I think along the same lines of J. Ive (at least moreso than I think along the lines of Warren Buffett). And, imagine if Apple was magically slurped out of the design universe. The iMacs and iPods and all the elegant displays and Newtons of the world wouldn’t have had their impact on the consumer electronics markets.

    No, just because they don’t share their processes doesn’t make them bad for design.

    Point in case, ask FROG if Apple is bad for “design”. I’d bet you a quarter FROG would give you a whack upside the head and tell you to stop wasting their time. πŸ™‚

    So, you’re thinking that an Open Source Cola is better for the soft drink industry than those who have helped CREATE the industry in the first place? (Without whom there would be NO softdrink industry in the first place) Or am I missing something still?

  5. aRdent Says:

    Bottom line to me is that this is what Branding and Trademarks are all about as well as the concept of “value-added” in the distribution channels.

    If it were as simple as printing up the formula for greatness, the bookstores wouldn’t be so full of the various organizational and personal self-help titles.

    Even if Apple went Open Source with their design, users would edit it and take out all those “really unnecessary” parts in order to show a better ROI and then complain that Apple hadn’t really disclosed everything when their products still lagged behind.

  6. peterme Says:

    Look. I know that, in total, Apple is good for design. I’m not an idiot.

    What I did, and I was pretty explicit about it at the outset of the article, was engage in a thought experiment on how Apple could be bad for design. Basically, given the premise, “Apple is bad for design,” how would you support it?

  7. peterme Says:

    Also, The Fountainhead is crap. Objectivism is crap. Ayn Rand’s philosophies are crap. Very appealing to 14 year old girls who idolize Strong Men With Vision, but, in practice in the real world, crap.

  8. gwhiz Says:

    Mr. Merholz, I follow now! Sorry, I must have zigged to your zag. Totally didn’t catch the thought experiment bit.

    So, if handed the premise, “Apple is bad for design” my support for it would be a throat clearing sound that roughly sounds like “Horse Spit”… roughly. πŸ™‚ Not much thought. Not much experiment.


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