Apple Computers is often criticized for its lack of originality and innovation, its critics asserting that much of its technology has been stolen or copied from other companies. Though this is an argument that will likely never be resolved, what is true is Apple has revolutionized the expectations of consumers when it comes to technology and applied innovation. How did Apple accomplish this? Here are four illustrations.
Cellphones Became Smart
There are still cell phones that can be purchased that have slide out keyboards and a flip feature to answer phone calls, but the best-selling smartphones have a TV screen-like shape to them. The reason is the iPhone transformed a telephone into a pocket-sized computer, capable of connecting to the Internet and running computer applications – what now are commonly known as apps. There are thinner, lighter, faster, and more durable smartphones, but the basic design preferred by customers is neither the retro landline telephone nor the cell phone.
Words Became Icons
When Steve Jobs was taken on a tour of the Xerox Palo Alto plant in the 1970’s, he saw the future of computing in development – the graphical user interface or GUI. Most people know of this concept as Windows or clicking on an icon with their mouse. In an interview with Jobs, he stated he knew when he saw what Xerox was developing was the future of computing. About 10 years later, Jobs took that languishing Xerox idea and implemented it on the Apple Macintosh. The majority of consumers will reject a device that requires text input (except when texting, of course).
Laptops Became Tablets
The creation of the first iPod brought out the critics primarily because the tablet did not fit into a previously defined computing device. It was not as powerful as a laptop but too large to fit it a pocket. What the iPad did do was address a basic consumer need of being able to access the Internet and perform basic computing functions without having to read a manual or be technically astute. Less than 10 years later, current thinking and sales projections predict the demise of the desktop, the decline of the laptop, and the rise of the tablet in both business and consumer purchasing.
Letters Became Art
Steve Jobs never graduated from college, but one of the courses he was a student of when he did attend was that of calligraphy. He was fascinated by the artistic lettering, and it was one of the subjects he took very seriously. In the development of the Apple Macintosh, the Macintosh team designed and implemented the use of these artistic letters now known as fonts. There are not only standard fonts that are used in academic and business institutions, but software that allows a user to create their own font and integrate it seamlessly into their own documents.
The effect of fonts on design is the creation of demand for higher resolution screens to enable a clearer reading interface and font sizes and types that were deemed too difficult to read on a standard size screen. This is one of the clearest examples where changes in software have a direct impact on the design of technological hardware.
It’s clear that Apple affected the design, both internal and external, of computers and technological devices. Regardless of the debate about innovation or originality, the global response of consumers has been positive and appreciative of the effort Apple has put into the design of its products. What’s still being debated is whether Apple’s design innovation can continue without the presence of the late Steve Jobs.
Written by Jeremiah Rodriguez: Jeremiah Rodriguez writes all about technology and education. His recent work is on the Cheapest Online Colleges.