bbc.co.uk Navigation

Rory Cellan-Jones

Listening to Mr iPhone

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 1 Jul 09, 14:21 GMT

By any measure, he is among the most important figures in technology of the last decade, a major influence on the way we use and interact with computers and mobile phones, a British designer who ranks with the Conrans and the Dysons. But have you ever heard Jonathan Ive, the Apple designer behind the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, talk about his work?

Jonathan IveI hadn't - so when a friend invited me to hear him speak at the Royal College of Art's Innovation Night I leaped at the chance.

Now one of the reasons you don't hear much from the Apple designer is that he is, by his own admission, a hesitant and unpolished speaker. He told the audience at the Royal College that he's learned that preparing presentations takes him away from perfecting a product, so he'd rather let others do the talking.

But the format last night was a fireside chat between Ive and the Rector of the Royal College Sir Christopher Frayling in front of an audience of students and what seemed like the whole of the London design community.

Amongst his own people, the designer seemed more comfortable than faced with intrusive probing from some impertinent hack - though I did manage to get one question in about what he'd have liked to change about the first version of the iPhone(no clear answer, I'm afraid, though he said designers were never satisfied with their work).

And what emerged were some fascinating insights into the culture of Apple and the craft of industrial design. Ive was insistent that the key to Apple's success was that it was not driven by money - a claim that may raise eyebrows amongst shareholders and customers - but by a complete focus on delivering just a few desirable and useful products.

"For a large mulit-billion dollar company we don't actually make many different products," he explained. "We're so focused, we're very clear about our goals."

He said that Steve Jobs had always made it very clear that this focus on products was the only reason for Apple to exist - and contrasted the culture with that of other companies who talk about having similar aims: "If you have to spend time institutionalising that, talking about it, you end up chasing your tail."

So how did the company decide what customers wanted - surely by using focus groups? "We don't do focus groups," he said firmly, explaining that they resulted in bland products designed not to offend anyone.

Christopher Frayling reminded us at that point of Henry Ford's line about what his customers would have demanded if asked - "a faster horse" - and it's surely true that the point of innovative companies is to come up with products that customers don't yet know they need.

But it was the physicality of design work that Jonathan Ive was keen to stress - from the Apple design workshop full of machines, throwing off a lot of noise and dust, to visits to Japanese aluminium craftsmen to learn how that material could be crafted into a laptop casing. Yes, of course he and his team use all the latest computer-aided design tools - but he also likes to knock out a physical prototype and feel the weight of it in his hand.

He told a story about how, as a boy, he'd taken apart an old-fashioned alarm clock, and inside the spare outer casing found a mass of workings, "an entire watch factory".

Extraordinary complexity wrapped in a simple, functional, touchable, beautiful case - that seems to be the Apple design ethic.

So an inspiring 45 minutes in the company of a design genius - a few fragments of which I filmed using one of Mr Ive's own products. But at the end, Apple's PR team came up to stress that this was a private event and would I please keep the pictures to myself.

Another example of the somewhat paranoid culture of a company which always wants to be in complete control of its message. But maybe that's another reason for its success...

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This country has always produced excellent designers in every aspect of the discipline. Unfortunately very few British clients have understood how to properly avail themselves of our home grown talent.

  • Comment number 2.

    Rory: I have to ask again... Anything about the new Samsung JET being planned or the HTC Hero or will you keep providing us with info on Apple and iPhones for the next decade?

    Really I want to know as I might as well stop reading. Next up Apple release nothing for two days 500 word report to follow...

    On a seperate note it is nice to see British design continuing to be succsseful.

  • Comment number 3.

    You should try searching the apple.com website. Ive has certainly given interviews in corporate videos before. I remember watching him talk about the design of the original iPod and iMac G5, and I'm sure there are others.

  • Comment number 4.

    Please excuse me if this questions betrays some sort of ignorance on my part but what exactly does Mr Ive do?
    As far as I was aware, he designs the physical aspect of Apple products (ie the way they look, the casing etc) but does he also design the UI on said products?

    If not, I fail to see in what way he has had "a major influence on the way we use and interact with computers and mobile phones".
    I mean it's not as though he created some sort of input device that has replaced the keyboard on Apple's computers has he? If his part is limited to the aesthetics of the products, he's had precisely zero impact on how we use said devices, instead re-packaging existing technologies into expensive, pretty boxes.

  • Comment number 5.

    I personally prefer to go straight to the source, the user. A designer/developer will have a bias towards their own "masterpiece". I own an iphone and prior to purchasing one I went to Cnet and others who have owned previous generations. Worked out well!

    Ben Behrouzi

  • Comment number 6.

    Fascinating item. Thanks for the report. Nice to know that British designers still lead the world even if few people have heard of them.

  • Comment number 7.

    "I leaped at the chance.."

    Surely 'I leapt at the chance..' ?

    Tsk tsk tsk...

  • Comment number 8.

    "2. At 3:33pm on 01 Jul 2009, D4lien wrote:

    Rory: I have to ask again... Anything about the new Samsung JET being planned or the HTC Hero or will you keep providing us with info on Apple and iPhones for the next decade?

    Really I want to know as I might as well stop reading. Next up Apple release nothing for two days 500 word report to follow...

    On a seperate note it is nice to see British design continuing to be succsseful."

    --

    Yes it would be nice to see some unbiased blogging for a change. Still at least it's not related to the death of some "celeb"...

    "4. At 3:56pm on 01 Jul 2009, dempsi1997 wrote:

    Please excuse me if this questions betrays some sort of ignorance on my part but what exactly does Mr Ive do?
    As far as I was aware, he designs the physical aspect of Apple products (ie the way they look, the casing etc) but does he also design the UI on said products?

    If not, I fail to see in what way he has had "a major influence on the way we use and interact with computers and mobile phones".
    I mean it's not as though he created some sort of input device that has replaced the keyboard on Apple's computers has he? If his part is limited to the aesthetics of the products, he's had precisely zero impact on how we use said devices, instead re-packaging existing technologies into expensive, pretty boxes."

    --

    Ah but you miss the point, by being the person who creates the aesthetics of a product Mr Ives, if he is only responsible for the look of Apples products, does in fact change the way we use a product.

    He's turned Apples products into fashion accessories, rather than tools.

    If he designed the look of the products I would not be surprised if he had a hand in the way the user interfaces on products such as the iPhone look either.

    I do agree with you about the fact that Apples products are nothing more than existing technologies in expensive pretty boxes, but the public seem to like products like that, it feeds their greed and obsession with material wealth.

    Personally I'd rather take a BlackBerry on a managed BES, or a BIS account any day of the week than have an iPhone.

    I have a term for the "cult of Apple", I called it "collective consumer stupidity", based on the fact that I believe the general public as a whole are dumb and will gladly buy into anything if their told it's cool.

    People who buy Apple products just go right ahead and prove that theory.

  • Comment number 9.

    A quick response to comment 2 - I have in fact given recent coverage to the HTC Hero. I must also tell you that yesterday I got the following message from a Twitter user - "when are you and the rest of the BBC going to stop being so anti apple?" - so it is a difficult line to tread.

    And I note that you say "it is nice to see British design continuing to be successeful." I agree - which is why I thought my account of the event with Jonathan Ive might possibly be of interest to those who weren't able to be there. If it was not, then I apologise.

  • Comment number 10.

    As an industrial designer myself, I have to say that this kind of ridiculous over-hype does the profession no good at all. #4 Dempsi1997 isn't too far off the truth, though if the Apple projects were typical, then Jonathan Ive will have designed the way the product fits together, also he'll have designed the individual mouldings and other casing components for manufacture, including material selection to give the correct balance of easy mouldability, cost, impact resistance etc etc.

    Mr. Ive is a very talented designer, but Apple really is the ultimate triumph of style over substance - strip the marketing nonsense away and the technology is very similar to that available elsewhere. However as long as there's a seemingly endless supply of gullible consumers with unnecessarily deep pockets around, Apple will continue to happily relieve these folks of their hard-earned cash.

  • Comment number 11.

    8. At 5:38pm on 01 Jul 2009, ravenmorpheus wrote:
    -------
    I have a term for the "cult of Apple", I called it "collective consumer stupidity", based on the fact that I believe the general public as a whole are dumb and will gladly buy into anything if their told it's cool.
    -------

    Is this "collective consumer stupidity" different from "individual commenter stupidity"? For example, not knowing the difference between the proper use of "their" and "they're"?

  • Comment number 12.

    The comments about shiny boxes are spot on. Nice to know I'm not alone.

    I like Ive and I don't think anyone can dispute that the iMac he designed was very different (in appearance) to things previous.

    But good design is the combination of looks AND function. The original iPod had horrendous battery issues but there was no easy way to replace the battery. If you made that mistake in design school they'd point it out... Obviously didn't occur to anyone at (the mighty) Apple design team.

    Oh, and back then Apple told their customers "buy a new iPod" - kinda takes the shine off Ive's comments on money.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Ridiculous over-hype", "style over substance", "pretty boxes"? You guys really don't get it at all do you. What Apple has always been about is providing a fantastic user-experience it's a pathway they have been following from the very beginning. That might might have something to do with the fact that 65% of all mobile browsing is done on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

  • Comment number 14.

    " 8. At 5:38pm on 01 Jul 2009, ravenmorpheus wrote:
    -------
    I have a term for the "cult of Apple", I called it "collective consumer stupidity", based on the fact that I believe the general public as a whole are dumb and will gladly buy into anything if their told it's cool.
    -------

    Is this "collective consumer stupidity" different from "individual commenter stupidity"? For example, not knowing the difference between the proper use of "their" and "they're"?"

    Probably. But hey we're not all word perfect. And yes I do know my their from they're. I don't always pay attention to what I'm typing though. Sadly there isn't an edit button on these forums otherwise I would have corrected myself.

    I would try to link this reply into the topic by commenting on the iPhone "keyboard" but I can't think of anything to say other than I prefer a full qwerty keyboard on a phone like the BlackBerry, at least you don't have to press, what is it now to get a special character such as @, oh yeah, 9 key presses...

  • Comment number 15.

    "I hadn't" heard of Jonathan Ive.

    You are labelled as BBC's technology correspondent? You might as well say you hadn't heard of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Have you heard of Steve Ballmer? Microsoft?

    My apologies if by 'Technology' you mean 'I've seen a computer. It was beige'.

  • Comment number 16.

    Apple can see the value of integrated design input, including hard and soft design values, in its bottom line and margins, unlike some British companies that make a point of being sceptical about arty design nonsense.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd like to address this to comments #8 & #10. Both of you say that Apple's products are style over substance, and then go on to say they fool the general public into thinking they're something better, even with #8 saying it is "collective consumer stupidity." Considering Apple's market share, don't you consider that comment a bit inconsistent? A more logical case could be made that if there is "collective consumer stupidity" then that would have to apply to the masses of Windows users, who are pretty much required to run software no one in their right mind would want on their computer, if one weren't forced to have it, such as anti-virus, anti-trojan software, for example.

    I started off using Windows, and thinking pretty much the same thing, that Apple's products were nothing better than Windows. I've since come to learn, in actual usage of computers, that there's more to Apple's computers and operating system than a slight different from Windows. When I ran windows computers as my main system, I was constantly involved in the "care and feeding" of the Windows OS, and constantly being intruded upon by silly dialogue boxes that distract from the focus of my work. I was so used to it I didn't even notice it, then after switching to using a Mac for a few weeks, I suddenly realized I was just getting my work done, no intrusion, no extra nonsense, no "look, it's me, Windows!" rather than Apple's OS of focus on what you have a computer for, not the operating system for the computer. I've found that people who denigrate Apple's computers and devices rarely have ever used them in any real way.

  • Comment number 18.

    Style over substance? For the most part I'd say that's untrue.

    The iPhone might be lacking in certain features, but even many of its detractors at least acknowledge that the user experience is unmatched.

    Macs have had their core loyal user base for so many years precisely because of their usability - the Mac OS - stretching back to when Macs were still beige boxes.

    And thanks for the insight, Rory. I appreciate the tightrope you walk in terms of Apple coverage!

  • Comment number 19.

    @ #17

    I've sat at thousands of Macs and same with PCs. The FACTS are that PCs are faster. People have different opinions on OS - your preference is MacOS, fine - but you are deluding yourself if you think people chose PC because they are idiots. These people have exactly the same choice as you but they chose Windows.

    Millions would run MacOS on PC hardware if it were allowed by Apple. Apple say, if you love the operating system, you HAVE TO BUY our overpriced, under-performing (though shiny) hardware to run it on. I, like many others, are not prepared to make that sacrifice.

    I'm getting really tired of condescending Mac owners acting as though they've be touched by the hand of god. Apple and Steve Jobs (and by extension Ive) are in the business of branding - and they are second only to Nike (think £110 sneakers).

  • Comment number 20.

    @ #17 - I will concede that you have a point, to a certain extent that Macs are better than Windows based PCs, but I wouldn't agree to that, certainly they blow the pants off a Windows based PC where video editing and other media based tasks are concerned but they tend to fall flat on their face a lot of the time where video gaming is concerned.

    Apple came along at a time with their iPod and iPhone when there was little else on the market as a recognisable brand and used their marketing skills to make their brands "the cool brand", the public bought into that, that's how they have such a big market share, the same as Bill did with MS-DOS and then Windows.

    And no I don't think that that my comment is inconsistent with Apples market share. It is precisely because of the collective stupidity of consumers that Apple has a market share that is so large.

    People just do not look at other devices because they see their peers using the iPhone and think that is the be all and end all in mobile phone technology.

    People like to keep up with the Jones's

  • Comment number 21.

    quote:
    *****
    15. At 6:41pm on 01 Jul 2009, A moose wrote:
    "I hadn't" heard of Jonathan Ive.

    You are labelled as BBC's technology correspondent? You might as well say you hadn't heard of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Have you heard of Steve Ballmer? Microsoft?

    My apologies if by 'Technology' you mean 'I've seen a computer. It was beige'.
    *****

    'A moose', RCJ didn't say he'd never heard of Jonathan Ive! He said he'd never heard him talk about his work! Read carefully before flaming!

  • Comment number 22.

    For anyone that thinks that design doesn't matter, you're welcome to buy all those inferior products out there. But for me, I'm glad that there is a company like Apple that cares enough to work so hard that to make their products as great as they are. They work great and they look great - A harmonious union of form and function. And if good design doesn't matter, why is it that as soon as Apple comes out with a product, the rest of the industry is falling all over themselves to try to copy Apple's innovation? How many successful touch screen cell phones did you see before the iPhone? And if you think that products such as the iPhone only looks good, try accessing the internet on any other mobile phone device - it's a joke.

  • Comment number 23.

    I found the following quote inspiring: "Steve Jobs had always made it very clear that this focus on products was the only reason for Apple to exist."

    To address comments by dempsi1997, ravenmorpheus and grimble22350:
    Businesses live and die by their product. It's that simple. If the product creates value for its customer, everything else will fall into place, including huge strategic priorities such as business model and marketing. Just look at Apple's marketing - 95% of it is just a picture of the product against a white background. I've never heard a quote from Apple on this, but my best guess is that their strategy is to think of everything - from design, to software, to user experience, to marketing, to retail, to online sales - as one seamless product. And it's an awesome product. It really is. The ads are great - look at the awards. The design is elegant - well beyond any other consumer electronics item. The software is the best in the mobile space right now - look at the number of developers for the iPhone, the number of apps available, the number of apps being downloaded.

    What happens when people lose focus of the product? An extreme example would be our financial meltdown. Rather than create mortgages that actually helped people buy homes they could afford to build families and lives - lenders turned to gamesmanship to beat competition in a mature market, "innovating" repackaged piles of financial garbage. A rotten product produced a rotten business model which rotted our economy.

    Honestly - I have problems with Apple too - and I haven't invested cause I think their day will come. Specifically - I think the iPhone platform is still too closed. Third party developers will be the drivers of these products and keeping them out to any degree will produce competitive disadvantage. Here's one way a competitor might beat the iPhone: http://continuations.com/post/133482897/mobile-app-development-androids-missed-opportunity

    rorycellanjones: I have no idea why you're apologizing. If someone didn't want to read the article then they shouldn't have done so. Also, I wish the article had done a better job in answering the question "So how did the company decide what customers wanted?" All we got was that they don't use focus groups.

  • Comment number 24.

    A Moose (Comment 15).

    He didn't say he hadn't HEARD OF Jonathan Ive.

    He said he hadn't HEARD him SPEAK before.

  • Comment number 25.


    ravenmorpheus
    #8:
    He's turned Apples products into fashion accessories, rather than tools.

    If he designed the look of the products I would not be surprised if he had a hand in the way the user interfaces on products such as the iPhone look either.

    I do agree with you about the fact that Apples products are nothing more than existing technologies in expensive pretty boxes, but the public seem to like products like that, it feeds their greed and obsession with material wealth.

    Personally I'd rather take a BlackBerry on a managed BES, or a BIS account any day of the week than have an iPhone.

    I have a term for the "cult of Apple", I called it "collective consumer stupidity", based on the fact that I believe the general public as a whole are dumb and will gladly buy into anything if their told it's cool.

    People who buy Apple products just go right ahead and prove that theory.
    -----

    I don't know what your problem is that you feel a need to insult people who have different taste from you. I may think many PC folks are misguided to stick to their platform of choice for what I feel are reasons that do not make sense to me, but I would never be so arrogant as to call them stupid.

    You don't want an iPhone? Fine, keep whatever you have if it makes you happy - although apparently it does not since you seem to need to force your choice on others.

    Re; "He's turned Apples products into fashion accessories, rather than tools."
    This is laughable! Would a Lamborghini be a better car if it were ugly? Do you refuse to sit on a beautifully crafted chair because you fear it will collapse? Apple's Mac Pro line has a great cabinet that has all parts very easily accessible (yet another design that has been emulated by others now) - is this functionality worthless because it is also beautiful?

    You - like one of the other commentators - just do not get the concept of aesthetics. Apple sees the product as a unified whole - the beauty/style of the exterior reflects the style and attention to detail of the interior. The same attention to detail occurs in the OS which is why so many people absolutely LOVE the Mac OS user experience. Macs consistently have the highest user satisfaction ratings. Buying something that satisfies you - Gee, I guess that's stupid.

    @10 - "strip the marketing nonsense away and the technology is very similar to that available elsewhere"
    Here you are both correct and grossly mistaken.

    If you mean to say that underneath all are Intel CPU general purpose computing machines, then you are of course correct, but also irrelevant.

    However - if you mean to say that there is no difference between a Mac OS X and Windows - then you are very mistaken. Now if you do not care - fine - I don't care what you buy for yourself. But many people feel that it is a lot more than simply "window dressing" (e.g. #17 & #18 above).

    So let's stop lining up in the CULT OF ANTI-APPLE to trash people just because they have a vision that is different from yours. Heck - if it were not for Apple you all would still be using MS-DOS!

    (lol)

  • Comment number 26.

    Apple PR can be terribly controlling. On the one hand I remember at the opening of their new Belfast store that they let me in as a blogger along with local media thirty minutes before the actual opening in order to listen to their tour and get pictures.

    http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com/2008/09/apple-store-in-belfasts-victoria-square.html

    But at the same time, they wouldn't let anyone interview the store manager - assuming that either the shop couldn't speak for itself, or more likely, preferring to hear the voices of enthusiastic and hyped up customers doing their advertising instead - which wasn't quite what the waiting media wanted for their reports.

  • Comment number 27.

    Style over substance?
    Preposterous!

    Have you some of you people looked at Johnathan Ives' work?
    It goes way beyond looks into function, but the two are so elegantly intertwined.

    Take the first iPod shuffle. A £50 piece of technology. The design is amazing. It is basically a small square aluminium clothes peg. Inside is all the technology needed to make a small MP3 player work.

    The dock that allows the device to be connected to a USB port on a computer, is a perfect fit to the shape of the shuffle, and makes use of the earphone socket as the method of data transfer and charging. The shuffle itself has no other input or output ports that take up space or trap dirt.

    Only the essentials are there, and because of that, what is there is made more functional - the size of the buttons for example are relatively large on the device to make operation easy. They fit so nicely under the thumb.

    This is not design for design's sake this is for the user's sake (and probably the manufacturer's too).

    I would imagine (I have no knowledge of this area so I'm guessing) that the body of the iPod shuffle is a long tube that gets cut into shuffle size chunks with the holes for the buttons milled/punched out, and then the electronics and spring clip are slotted in, making the construction relatively cheap, but not the look, feel or price of the product. The one piece body of the device probably adds strength to the Shuffle so it doesn't break as it gets thrown around as is inevitable for a small device.

    He isn't a decorator - just making a box look good by changing it's colour and it's shape, he is a DESIGNER who has made some great products for the people to use, that also look, feel and work great.

    The thought that Ive puts into his product design is amazing and quite right that he should be given attention.

    Shame on you posters that can't appreciate that and have to turn these blogs once again into an Apple Vs PC debate.

  • Comment number 28.

    Designers can't do excellent work without committed educated clients. Good designers work where their contribution is valued and celebrated, not watered down to a price point and treated as appliqué 'style'.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ Ravenmorpheus

    "I don't always pay attention to what I'm typing though. Sadly there isn't an edit button on these forums otherwise I would have corrected myself"

    ..............................................................................

    Shame you can't pay more attention to what your thinking too. Maybe that 'video game' thats so much better on a PC got in the way. How tedious it is when 'gaming' becomes the stick to beat the fruit.

    Ive's influence is everywhere (gloss white/black cars, pretty much any phone for the past 18 months, PC computer rip offs, the list really is endless). Like or loath Apple, but take a look at what has been achieved since 1997's original iMac and if you have an understanding of design and branding, then he is simply at the very top of his game.

    Macs get the work done - in style? yes! Better to shine than to fade to beige and certainly better to create than play 'video games'

    .........................

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice one #27!
    mr_maff is absolutely right!

    Most of the people commenting here have just hijacked the post and turned it into a facile 'debate' about Macs v's PCs (AGAIN!)

    Whilst I regularly read this blog I have just created an account here to ask you people to grow up and move on..
    ..please?

  • Comment number 31.

    I get fed up of this banging on about Mr Ive "designing" the iMac, or the iPod, or the iPhone. It's been going on since the original, fruit-flavoured iMac came out. Mr Ive didn't design any of these things - he simply styled them. They were designed by smart but faceless and unrecognized engineers: the hardware by a team of hardware engineers and the software (what most differentiates Apple's products) by an army of software engineers. Despite Mr Ive's obvious talents, he wouldn't know one end of a diode from the other, or a subroutine from a submarine. Praise where praise is due: the products above all have superb styling (or "industrial design" as they like to call it these days), but that is only skin deep.

    PS Just to labour a point, I'm on my third iMac, but I know less about the real designers of my most recent computers than I do about the team behind the original Macintosh from 1984.

  • Comment number 32.

    Surely the various comments on the superiority of one system against another are quite out of sync with the article.

    Rory Cellan-Jones was discussing the designer and his design ... and in the latter respect the Mac stands supreme in the regular market place. And as for the box, every quality oriented designer knows the presentation is a critical part of the package as a whole.

    It begs the question whether some of the writers here would equally expect to buy, for example, a Dunhill watch in a cardboard box.

    It is down to getting the job right (if readers will excuse the pun) and that means creating a sympathetic relationship in all aspects of product design, packaging and marketing.

    Apple largely has this right and as a result have achieved an enviable reputation to prove it.






  • Comment number 33.

    @commenter number 8,

    Regarding your comments about the iPhone keyboard, yeah, it's real tough to type a special character. Let's see, I touch the key on the lower left of the iPhone's typing screen, up pops the special character keys, and I slide my finger to the @ key or whatever character I want, lift my finger off the screen, and the character appears in the text while the keyboard automatically switches back to the original keyboard, and I continue typing. So, actually I touch the screen one time and slide my finger once, which doesn't even come close to taking 9 keystrokes. Obviously, you've not used an iPhone.

    Oh, and one more thing, if I want to use an accent mark, I hold my finger on the key for the letter I want accented, and Voila! up pops a menu with every choice of accents for that letter. I slide my finger to the one I want to use, lift my finger, and I have the proper accent mark. Try that with your QWERTY keyboard.

  • Comment number 34.

    #31: I get fed up of this banging on about Mr Ive "designing" the iMac, or the iPod, or the iPhone. It's been going on since the original, fruit-flavoured iMac came out. Mr Ive didn't design any of these things - he simply styled them. They were designed by smart but faceless and unrecognized engineers: the hardware by a team of hardware engineers and the software (what most differentiates Apple's products) by an army of software engineers. Despite Mr Ive's obvious talents, he wouldn't know one end of a diode from the other, or a subroutine from a submarine. Praise where praise is due: the products above all have superb styling (or "industrial design" as they like to call it these days), but that is only skin deep.

    I would recommend many of the posters here to do some reading on basic design.
    Poster 31 for one, doesn't have a clue about 'industrial design as they call it these days'....
    Styling and design make or break a company! From manufacturing to final sales of the product, a good design will save cost, sell your product and make loyal customers.
    Yes, #31 is partly correct that it's not Mr. Ive only. Sure it is a team of people, but is Mick Jagger The Rolling Stones? Or even the 4 of them, are they the Rolling Stones? They would be nothing if not for a huge team of people enabling them to perform, so what's your point? Every team needs a manager. Apple's manager of the design-department is Jonathan Ive. Simple as that.

    Now coming back on the statement that design is only skin deep. What utter rubbish I dare say.
    This holds true for all those companies that have been copying every single product from Apple since the original iMac. For those companies, design (or style) is a matter of applying some lipstick. Never mind that the pig is still the pig... lipstick is what the people look at according to their (and your) definition of design!

    Good design involves every single part of the product. Example: The iPod was not only the iPod itself and its design, it was a combination of player, software on the device and the software on the computer (iTunes) that made it easier and better to use than most other players out there.
    Good design also means that the targeted buyers can use all the functionality without being a rocket-scientist. A very good example for this is that Apple's user manuals typically contain more pages of required safety and legal stuff than information about the product itself. Why? Because the customer does not need a manual to figure out the functions!

    That is good design! That is far far more than skin-deep!

  • Comment number 35.

    The Apple products are all the Best, First Class in the World and State of the art. I agree and enchure this statement.
    My only complain is that in order to delivery a product or just to do their own proprietary connectors and make Things differently. Apple Design's unplug their customers... ok! it is the evolution or revolution... But... In one hand take a close look at the micro-VGA, mini-DVI-i, micro-DVI and now the all new mini-Displayport. I mean what is the point? There is the HDMI that has full support for Digital Video + Digital Audio. And in the oder hand, what about the micro-USB that is the established to be the standart for the JAE-Europe would Apple accept to have a stranger connector oder than the iPod pattern? We see either Apple will only manage to produce one adapter or will place orders to the third parties producers...
    "Design meets consumer markets"... without making it to love or hate... or at least without let than apart of the real world let than only play at their "Apple Garden" Products Compatible!!! It cannot be a serious work and approach!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    @Paulo Magrani

    DisplayPort is an industry-standard backed by VESA. Furthermore, Apple was one of the handset makers that agreed to use micro USB in it's future phones. Therefore both of your points are moot, if not completely wrong.

  • Comment number 37.

    J Ive - understated industrial design hero working as part of a focused team. It would be interesting to know how long he reckons it will take the fasionistable to think iPod selector is a bid odd. Thanks for reporting.

    He must wince every time he sees a Dab radio or fixed line phone. So ugly, even I've noticed.

  • Comment number 38.

    "That might might have something to do with the fact that 65% of all mobile browsing is done on an iPhone or iPod Touch."

    Actually it's more to do with the vast majority of phones and web enabled PMPs pointing to mobile sites by default which don't register on web traffic counters.

    I think Mr Ive has largely made an excellent job of designing Apple's products with the possible exception of the latest Shuffle which is a ridiculous object (although in fairness it is quite pretty). That said, the iPhone case is starting to look a bit dated. Time for a refresh methinks.

    @Kubricklove

    Don't confuse 'a standard recognised by the industry' and 'an industry standard' as they are often quite different. Apple's display adapter can in no way be called an industry standard based on its rather unique usage.

  • Comment number 39.

    " 29. At 11:19pm on 01 Jul 2009, neilephipps wrote:

    @ Ravenmorpheus

    "I don't always pay attention to what I'm typing though. Sadly there isn't an edit button on these forums otherwise I would have corrected myself"

    ..............................................................................

    Shame you can't pay more attention to what your thinking too. Maybe that 'video game' thats so much better on a PC got in the way. How tedious it is when 'gaming' becomes the stick to beat the fruit.

    Ive's influence is everywhere (gloss white/black cars, pretty much any phone for the past 18 months, PC computer rip offs, the list really is endless). Like or loath Apple, but take a look at what has been achieved since 1997's original iMac and if you have an understanding of design and branding, then he is simply at the very top of his game.

    Macs get the work done - in style? yes! Better to shine than to fade to beige and certainly better to create than play 'video games'"

    --

    Actually buddy video gaming is an important part of how I use a computer, I create content for video games.

    I couldn't do that on a mac. So I will beat the mac with that stick thank you very much.

    POst @ #50 - "Take the first iPod shuffle. A 50 piece of technology. The design is amazing. It is basically a small square aluminium clothes peg. Inside is all the technology needed to make a small MP3 player work.
    "
    --

    Yes and there were and are equally good MP3 players around at the time for far cheaper.

    All Mr Ive and Apple did was use a whole heap of marketing to push their product and make it "the brand to have".

    I personally own an iPod nano and I've used an iPhone, I also have a BlackBerry along with a PSP and I can safely say that I would rather use the BlackBerry than the iPhone and the PSP than the iPod nano.

    Simply because the BlackBerry does the push email function better, has a better camera iirc and doest cost as much, there are probably a few other things it can do as well or better as well, I just think of them at this time.

    The PSP does far more than play video games as well, I use it to watch videos and listen to music as well.

    Granted you can do all of that on an iPhone but to me the iPhone is an overpriced piece of kit which is a rehash of existing technologies, the only thing it has that is or was possibly unique is the touch screen and that's no big deal.

    I put it to the people who are saying that us Apple naysayers have never used their products that they have not used anything recently besides Apple products, if they had they would see that Apple is not the best, it's certainly no worse than it's competitors but it does not stand out head and shoulders above them.

  • Comment number 40.

    OK. We have had a ridiculous amount of items on the iPhone. Can the BBC start marketing some other phones now please?

  • Comment number 41.

    Please can the BBC put an edit button on these forums, I've noticed two typos in my post above!

    The sentences in question should read -

    I couldn't do that as well on a mac. So I will beat the mac with that stick thank you very much.

    And

    Simply because the BlackBerry does the push email function better, has a better camera iirc and doest cost as much, there are probably a few other things it can do as well or better as well, I just can't think of them at this time.

  • Comment number 42.

    I first heard about Jonathan Ive in the 1990s. My University Lecturer externally verified his GCSE Design Project, and he used this as an example of how good design can change things for the better. It was an incredible project - remember those ghastly Overhead Projectors (OHPs) with the big arm that stuck out on top? Well Jonathan Ive, at 16, redesigned it so it was smaller, brighter and folded into a neat square. I've seen some of his other designs, and people who have posted on these forums saying "he's nothing special" are completely missing the point of what Jonathan Ive has achieved...

    Anyone can say "that's easy, I could do that", but the fact is you haven't, and Jonathan Ive has. Retrospect is a fantastic thing to do, once you have seen something beautifully designed it's easy to say you could do it, but you couldn't visualise the concept and bring it to the masses.

    As for the people posting "there are cheaper mp3 players", if you use value for money as the yardstick of design, you should not even be entering into a discussion about design, let alone giving an opinion on it.

  • Comment number 43.

    @Mark_MWFC

    I didn't confuse the difference. It takes time for a thing to become wide spread, but as soon as a display connector is accepted by VESA it is a standard.

  • Comment number 44.

    " The FACTS are that PCs are faster. "

    Are you serious? What is your metric for this? Is it performing a particular task, is it based on any kind of benchmark or just on what one computer sat next to another does even though they could have different processors or be different ages?

    Anyone can come up with anecdotes about such things, my Windows PC takes longer to open a large Excel spreadsheet than my girlfriend's lower specced Macbook (~8s to ~2s). That's an anecdote, it doesn't mean PCs are slower than Macs, although it is somewhat embarrassing as Excel is one of Microsoft's own packages!

  • Comment number 45.

    Ravenmorpheus - and others - I used to work in PC support. I got sick and tired of the fact that software A wouldn't work with hardware B, this video card didn't work with this game or this TV tuner, when extra memory was added certain drivers wouldn't work any more... so when I needed a new machine at home, I bought an iMac. I'd never used a Mac before but, after a couple of days, I'd got used to it and have loved Macs ever since. I have to use PCs at work but can do things so much quicker on my Mac. I didn't buy a Mac because it looks beautiful, I bought it because it allows me to do what I want, without hassle. You might be restricted in what you can add to a Mac, there might be fewer software titles, but you know for sure that whatever you buy for it will work. I use my Mac for music - when did you last see a PC in a professional recording studio??? I run business software on it. The Mac version of Office seems to be more reliable and stable than the PC version, ironically. Apple is such a small company compared with Microsoft, yet is able to produce such amazing software. Most of the features people like in Vista, for example, appeared in Mac OS a year or two before Vista was released. Apple has vision and produces products which work.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am writing this of a Shuttle pc over in the corner is a mac mini which drives the home theater as our us friends call it. The Shuttle acts also as a test bed for Satellite TV. From the design point of view the Shuttle has nothing aesthetic to commend it though it has some interesting technical features. In fact it is ugly. The Mini is designed to disappear.It's a nice smooth anon box Both are technically adequate for the purpose. Here the design link between the mini box and its main board is uninteresting deliberately so.
    Elsewhere I have a much more interesting Ive's design, the Mac Cube. Here is an 'object d'art' you can and I do put in the lounge. Some here would say the design simply covers the innards. In a sense is that's right but I am sure making in 2002 a silent un-fanned computer in a 8x10 box which would properly situated, sit in the lounge or on a executive desk arose from careful cooperation between tech and designer.
    Apple did not and still doesn't understand the market for 'domesticated boxes.' Please can I have a mac book a detachable display Mr Ives and the facility to run two displays off the box... a nicer mini that actually looks good in the lounge.

  • Comment number 47.

    I can't stand people moaning every time an Apple product is mentioned, when just one of those often mentioned companies makes a product worthy of the coverage then it will get it.

    Whilst Apple continue to make products that customers don't yet know that they need they will continue to have half the tech world devouring all the information they can get, and the half moaning about that...but at least it involves pretty much everyone.

    I can't think of a single Samsung or HTC product that accomplishes that, and as for Nokia the last time they made me go 'wow' was when they released the 8210.

  • Comment number 48.

    There are a stupid amount of typos in this...

  • Comment number 49.

    Shame everyone forgets about the toilet seat MacBook when talking about Ive et al at Cupertino, a crime against product design which forced Apple to hire the Sony Vaio team to redesign their laptops.

  • Comment number 50.

    PS Oh dear, Rory, the "when are you and the rest of the BBC going to stop being so anti apple?" was sarcastic.

  • Comment number 51.

    For certain applications there is no doubt the Mac is a better tool than a PC, but then the reverse is also true. What really takes the biscuit though is to hear comments from some people (clearly Apple fanboys) suggesting that Apple is the only company that can design good hardware and software, or that everything that Apple does is wonderful. As the HTC Hero demonstrates, there is a lot of real innovation happening outside of Apple which just doesn't get a fair crack of the whip. What I'd really like to see are more even handed comments about the relative advantages and disadvantages of different solutions rather than simply following the latest fashion in an uncritical report. I wonder if the iPhone would be popular if things like the $99 yearly cost of MobileMe when Nokia does the same for free, the active bricking of unlocked phones, the closed nature of the platform compared to every other mobile platform available, the imposed limitations of certain apps such as no SlingBox mobile over 3G, or the general unavailability of competitive applications to the Apple provided ones were known before purchase - there is plenty of information about the nice UI (which it is) that the iPhone provides, but little discussion about some of the drawbacks - some of which are quite serious.

  • Comment number 52.

    I really don't understand some people's thinking on this forum. You think Apple's iPhone is a 'closed' system? Are you clinically insane?

    No 'fanboyism' here, just straight facts: The iPhone Developer Program costs £59 per year for an individual, and it gives you access to the iPhone SDK and the Developer Forums, and that is all you need to start coding for the iPhone. Once you have your App, you submit it to Apple, and when approved, any sales of the App are split 70/30.

    And before people start focusing on the word 'approved', let me ask you a question. Would you rather Apple just allowed any App at all onto the App Store, or would you rather they vetted every App to make sure there were no bugs that kill the battery quicker, and no Apps that are destructive, offensive or unsavory in some way?

    The iPhone is as open a platform as is possible without being uncontrollable. 50,000+ Apps and growing daily, I dare anyone to name a more successful mobile platform for developers.

    "I wonder if the iPhone would be popular if things like the $99 yearly cost of MobileMe when Nokia does the same for free"

    Not quite mate, Nokia doesn't do anything like MobileMe. Push contacts, Mail, Find My iPhone, iDisk, all integrated. The funniest sight this year was the Ovi Store - what an utter joke.

  • Comment number 53.

    I am getting a little bored of being told I am stupid because of my choice of phone. I didn't buy an iPhone because I was told it was cool, I bought it because I like it and I like the interface haing use the iPod Touch.
    It is pretty sad that I should be reviled for using an Apple product, but if you really hate Apple and their products and anyone that uses them, why read the article, never mind feel compelled to abuse those that use the iPhone?

  • Comment number 54.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's a little odd that this Blog discussion has broken down from a question of design to people who either do or do not buy Apple products. Having met Jonathan Ive a few years ago in the US I can confirm that he is a passionate and talented designer who takes his art very seriously. To the question however about Apple being more fluff than substance in the face of other manufacturers, this is entirely a different point about usability and performance rather than style.

    I would rather credit the general public with more common sense than simply buying what are very expensive computers based upon style. However, style in the form a design does factor into our choices in the same way we prefer a certain make of car or wide screen TV. The home computing market needs a bit of waking up, after all a few years ago all we had to choose from was one grey metal box versus another.

    To be honest, I am a Mac user, however my conversion to the 'other' side was through usability and ease of support rather than design and good looks. I no longer spend days sorting out software glitches on the family systems and I no longer spend weeks in inter systems comms support.

    In summary, behind the good design must lie even better functionality and performance, else we are all fools...

 

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

BBC.co.uk