Is Apple Losing Its Hardware Design Cred?

May 1, 2013
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When you think of Apple, what’s the first thing you think of? For the company’s fans, it’s undoubtedly Steve Jobs, Macs, the iPhone, and iPad. For the company’s haters, it’s typically issues they have with its control over its products, high prices, and its fans, who think their favorite company is superior to all others.

But what most people can agree on is that Apple truly understands hardware. For years now, the company has been delivering the most innovative hardware designs in the industry. And its success in the marketplace has largely been a result of that.

Still, I’m suspect of claims that Apple still holds the crown as the world’s best hardware designer. Yes, the company’s products are nice-looking and I’ll freely admit that the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro with Retina Display have rightfully earned Jonathan Ive his place in the spotlight. But when we take the entire industry as a whole, is it not possible for us to accept the idea that maybe – just maybe – Apple’s design cred has been hurt a bit?

[aquote]Is it not possible for us to accept the idea that maybe – just maybe – Apple’s design cred has been hurt a bit?[/aquote]

Looking at Apple’s products, I’m not all that impressed any more. Although the iPhone 5 came with some design improvements, it’s basically the same device we’ve been seeing for years with a few changes here and there. And since so-called “major” updates only come out every other year, I sit and see nothing that’s so revolutionary that I’d commend the company on design.

Moving to the iPad, I think we can say the same thing. The iPad is certainly nice-looking, but is it really so much better looking than any other device on the market right now? Samsung, Google, and Amazon are all offering tablets that have similar designs, and they’re no less appealing.

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But it’s in the notebook space that I think we need to seriously reconsider the idea that Apple is the world’s best hardware designer. Sure, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is nice-looking, but is it really any better than any Ultrabook on the market right now? And when it comes to innovation, who can really take issue with what Lenovo is doing with half-tablet, half-notebook IdeaPad Yoga? It appears that Apple is the company that now likes to stay the course, and it’s allowing other companies to deliver the truly interesting products.

[aquote]Apple fans will instinctively say that it hasn’t.[/aquote]

So, I pose this question: has Apple officially lost its credibility as the technology industry’s leading hardware designer? Apple fans will instinctively say that it hasn’t. But perhaps it’s best if we take a step back and evaluate what’s really going on in the marketplace. Apple is by no means a design slouch and its products are good-looking. But can we stop pretending like it’s the only company that truly understands what design is all about?

It might have taken competitors longer to catch up to Apple on design, but catch up they have. And it’s high time we accept that and give credit where it’s due.


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