How Apple Keeps Its Cool(ness)

Chances are, if  you’ve breathed for a prolonged period of time on this earth, you’ve either seen, admired, used or even hated an Apple product. Their symbol, the iconic apple, has seemingly become synonymous with intelligent design. Since the beginning of the millennium, Apple has quickly catapulted itself towards the top of the tech world, recently ousting Google as the top tech brand according to BrandZ 2011 top 100 chart.

But how did they do it? Simply by being simple. If you’ve ever picked up an iPhone or iPad recently and explored the iOS that powers the two devices, you’ll probably notice a few things. First, you’ll recognize the cute little app icons. Then comes the element you’ll notice as soon as you start swiping through lists of apps with a finger: it’s really easy to use. It’s basic, it’s simple, but it works extremely well.

If the iPad and iPhone sales numbers are any indication, they reveal how consumers not only don’t mind easy, simple products, but that they actually love them.

But whether it’s the iPod, iMac or even the Apple TV, Apple has long been a proprietor of software that is accessible to anyone. By limiting what customers can customize, particularly in relation to operating systems like Windows or Linux, Apple has been able to create simple, closed ecosystems that are inviting to consumers with limited knowledge of computers. That’s especially true with iOS.

It also doesn’t hurt that Apple’s products have some of the most svelte designs on the market. I mean, have you seen the Macbook Air?

In some ways, it can be argued that Apple has discovered how to best appeal to our vanity with their products. They look cool, and by owning Apple products, it seems that we also tend to feel cool, maybe even important.

Apple has thrived on creating products and technology that are both attractive and simple. Smart, but still intuitive.

At least part of that can be attributed to the obsessive natures of both its CEO, Steve Jobs, and its Senior VP of Industrial Design, Jonathan Ive.

Jon Ive once visited Japan in order to see, first hand, the creation of a samurai sword. Typically, these swords take weeks of forging, and reforging, then weeks of finishing before they are completed. Finally, upon completion, the result is one of the most effective and durable swords in existence. Ive is said to have a similar mentality when it comes to designing products, often refining them many, many times until he perceives them to be just about right.

Jobs, on the other hand, is known for being obsessive about the most minute details. In one case, before the release of the Apple II, Jobs was very particular about the corners of the computer, urging that the design be made more rounded in order to better appeal towards customers. Apparently, it took weeks of deliberation before the company decided on a final look.

And these are just a few examples of the often startling attention to detail that these two brilliant minds possess.

Ultimately, though, Apple has ballooned into such a popular brand because it create products that people want at (relatively) affordable prices. That they look cool and are typically well ahead of their competition in the design department is simply a bonus.

Even so, the next time you’re bopping your head away on your sleek iPad Nano, or reading on your iPad, take a brief moment to just appreciate the hard work that went into designing that piece of technology. Odds are, it was the product of months and months of intense designing and redesigning before it went out into the factory line and eventually landed into your hands.