iPhone, therefore I am….
This week we celebrated World Industrial Design Day. It is more than relevant for designers from all over the world to get together and celebrate. See what is common to all of us. And what is different.
I am writing this from Gurgaon, a satellite town of New Delhi, the capital of India. INDIA, for the benefit of the uninitiated, is the Asian country with a billion plus population, you can no longer ignore. I have been practicing industrial design in India for almost 24 years now and belong to the early generation of industrial designers who helped establish the profession in India.
So what is the design scene in India? As I join the list of writers in Embody 3D, I thought I could write about the preparation for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), scheduled in Delhi in October 2010. I could have written about the various facilities that are coming about in and around Delhi, their design features or the benefit of the CWG to a city like Delhi.
Another thought I had was to let the world know more about NID, (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad) that is all set to begin its Golden Jubilee celebrations this month. May be for another day.
But finally what caught my attention was an innocuous email, purportedly written by Steve Jobs to a customer, who probably stood in line and bought the latest iPhone4. The mail was a response to the customer complaining about dropped calls on the new iPhone4. He apparently wrote: “ You are holding it all wrong..”
WHAT? A predictable uproar ensued.
Let me make a few things clear before I begin: I am an avid Mac fan, no no, make it a Mac-addict. I bought one of the early Macs that were available in India in 1995 which had a 250MB hard disk (YES!) and a 16MB RAM and have been a devotee to Mac ever since.
As an Industrial designer, I yearn for clients who would be enlightened like Apple, who put design above everything else and give designers demi-*** status.
Apple had always given due regard to design and their business can be truly called “Design Led”.
But since when has design become more important than the customer? Industrial design should try and create a memorable user experience and not frustrate the customer like this.
Industrial design is about ergonomics that defines how a product will be used and not about how the use should be dictated.
Industrial design is all about locating controls and components that make as much user-sense as visual-sense.
Industrial design is as much about making the product a delight-to-use as much as it is visually exciting.
Steve Jobs knows this more than ever. Jonathan Ive knows it too. Then why will they react like this to a genuine customer complaint?
One of the characteristics that define Industrial design is that the process is iterative and the product gets improved, based on feedback. If anything, Jobs should thank the customer for helping them with feedback that will ultimately better the product.
Ive could do well to understand the basics of what was taught in his industrial design school. And propagate it.
It can be the ultimate tribute on “ World Industrial Design “ day.
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