Hey Everyone, It’s been a while since my Epic Rant and I have been quite busy doing research on my secret project. Mocking up designs, scrapping them, doing it again and so on. And after a very successful demo of a prototype with a prospective client, I decided to give myself a short break hence this post.
The Apple Era
It’s clear that this is Apple’s time to shine. Their products are now market forces which makes people “need to have them”. I think this is due to the fact that Apple puts a lot of thought into their products and they design them to impress. Seeing Apple’s success, other companies no longer want to innovate. They just look at Apple products for ideas. Which is simply a shame! What they don’t realize is that..
Apple is not always right
Let’s take a few quick examples, shall we?
The 7-inch Tablets: Steve Jobs (who I can rightfully assume represented Apple’s corporate stance on design decisions) was very clear why 7-inch tablets would be “Dead on Arrival” (DOA). And he seemed right at first with the outright failure of the Galaxy Tabs. But then it wasn’t until the Kindle Fire (thanks to Jeff Bezos) that we started to realize that 7″ actually works in many use cases like reading books, gaming e.t.c It’s like the “Oh, this is a bit big” feeling when you held the iPad for the first time was trimmed off.
The Stylus: During the unveiling event of the iPhone, Steve Jobs said “Who want’s a stylus? yaack!“.. well I do! There’s a good reason we don’t just dip our fingers in ink. Bill Gates has been saying this for a while now. He has always been optimistic that in the future, handwriting will be an important form of computer input. And with the release of the Note 10.1, His words are starting to make more sense. In fairness to Steve (Bless his soul) Styli at the time were just terrible but the technology is constantly improving. Wanting to sometimes use a pen on a tablet is an intuitive, natural feeling and makes a lot of sense than typing on a virtual keyboard… “Search your feelings, you know this to be true”
3.5 inch Screen is Perfect: Well in fairness, this may not have been generated by Apple. But it sure was perpetrated by lots of iFans. When the first set of larger smartphones were released, iFans mocked them like the Evo 4G or even the Galaxy S2 saying that 3.5 inch is the perfect form-factor and that’s why Apple has not changed it ever since. Well bad luck guys, Apple has realised that a 4 by 3 3.5 inch screen doesn’t make sense any more and will screw you over in “the new iPhone” (Not iPhone 5)
The Apple plagiarism is a lot worse in the PC market. Everyone want’s to look like the Mac Book Pro or the Mac Book Air. I initially had a HP-G62 laptop. Although the laptop was nice, I started to notice a few weird things about the design before I realized a subtle hint at the older Mac Book Pro which wasn’t so bad. I later got a Dell XPS 15z, which is a very good laptop overall. The XPS line can be thought of as the offspring of the Alienware and the Inspirion line with Dell taking lots of good design and hardware cues from Alienware. Sweet specs, super-comfy keyboard, adequate internal ventilation, e.t.c The laptop is a very good laptop, neat specs and all but its the outright copying of the Mac that sicken’s me. Using an all metal casing? Come On! This means that if a power outlet isn’t properly earthed, you’ll get a “shocky sensation” just like the Mac Book Pro or worse, outright electrocution. Don’t get me started with the over-heating (metal.. helloo) or the fact that I’d have to tear the laptop apart to change the battery or even the lousy decision to cramp all the USB ports on one side (Apple changed this in the Retina Mac Book Pro) and then there’s the arrow keys…*1 minute silence*
Anyway, There are also good things that they copied from Apple like the battery indicator which is pure genius or the backlit keyboard which Apple didn’t invent but really popularized. However, Alienware would never accept the XPS 15z as its baby because unlike the XPS 15 (L502X), It clearly looks like the Inspirion slept with the Mac Book Pro But its not just Dell, other laptops like HP’s envy 15 are a whole lot worse.
Those of us who follow what’s going on in the Tech landscape are well aware of the current legal battle between Apple and Samsung. Considering that Steve Jobs did not mince words concerning his feelings towards the Android Ecosystem, one could assume that Apple is going for the kill. No licencing, just an outright ban will do. The judge had earlier asked Apple and Samsung’s CEOs to negotiate. However, that proved to be unsuccessful. Oh wait.. I think it may be because Apple is asking for a licence and damages on all touch screen phones sold including Windows and Bada phones like they freaking invented it! That is just diabolic. My God, Talk about sheer Greed! If Samsung’s CEO were a Nigerian, He’d reply “Your Father!” showing Apple’s legal team his left palm wide open. So its no surprise that both parties are slugging it out in the courtroom as we speak. Check out Apple vs Samsung: Billion dollar trial
Ok, let me drop all my previous prejudices and allegiances at door and come straight…
I am glad that Apple is suing Samsung.
Huh?!.. Wait, just hear me out. The truth is that Samsung can’t claim innocence. What tires me with the Galaxy Lines of phones especially the S1 was the fact that they just copied Apple unnecessarily. Which sucks! so I’m hoping that this trial will make Samsung really work hard and innovate solely on their own. Android in itself is quite different from iOS. Yeah there are few similarities here and there, But overall, you can’t completely mistake one for the other and knowing how to operate iOS doesn’t mean that you know how to operate an Android device. However, Samsung openly copies Apple. From icons, menus, effects.. to the music player, contacts app, home screen/drawer structure, S-Voice e.t.c Google even warned Samsung that its design was too close to Apple’s. The funny thing is.. Apple’s software design pattern (i.e using skeuomorphism) actually sucks! which is why Microsoft and Google have avoided it in Metro and Android. So in order to mimick Apple, Samsung had to throw away the spirit behind Android. And as a result, Touchwiz is not as cohesive as iOS or stock Android. Just a design chaos.
What Samsung can’t see is that people buy their phones because they come with sweet specs at a very reasonable price. Not because of some Icons or Bouncy effects and certainly not because it looks like an iPhone. Heck, We’d be a lot happier if they just included apps for their hardware on stock Android period. Updates will roll out faster and there would be less confusion in the Eco-system. Fortunately, one of the beauties of the Android platform is that you don’t have to live with Touchwiz, You don’t have to wait endlessly for updates from Samsung. You can just flash it with CyanogenMod and problem solved. Which is what many users are doing judging from Cyanogen’s numbers.
So Dear Manufacturers, contrary to what it seems, you don’t need to design your products like iDevices to get users’ appeal. Apple has something similar to a cult following. In other words, people buy Apple products mainly because it is Apple. This reputation has come from its unique style and design language that they have built over the years. So without the Apple logo, no amount of copying will help you, hence your current state of destruction at their hands. You have to innovate on your own and come up with better designed products that work. Devices like the Nokia Lumia 900, HTC One X or the Nexus 7 really drive this point home. When you hold them in your hand, their design speaks to you in a very unique and pleasant way. That in itself can make an open minded (as in.. non ecosystem locked down) iUser make the switch.