The Apple nay-sayers of today offer what they think is a solid argument against the Apple consumer; that Apple’s “game” is solely based on good looks alone and, as such, Apple consumers are nothing more then superficial ego-consumers who buy the product solely for social value. Trend, it would seem, is the buying power for Apple.
Now, before judgment is cast upon my soul, hear me out and see where I’m going with this. First, as a complete Apple fan boy you would think I fall into this argument as well. I, just as any other Apple consumer, may be attracted first by a product’s look, feel, and possible “trend” status. Ultimately however, it’s more than that. Steve Jobs’ goal has always been to meld form with function, and that’s where the meat balances the potatoes. We as consumers can appreciate a beautiful-looking piece of technology, but what is more important is the utility we receive from it. Therefore, arguably, the user experience is the sole foundation for a products success.
To get a better idea of what I mean, let’s take a look at three “competing” products. We’ll base this solely on the actual user experience, operating systems alone.
- Form and Function equal – Leopard
- Form but no function – Windows Vista
- Function but no form – Linux
Function but no form
Let’s go from the bottom up. Linux provides a secure foundation for developers to continue building upon. Just as the Linux community grows, the operating system itself seems organic, and grows with them. An open-source operating system, completely free to use, yet has never become mainstream. Why is that? Could it be due to the lack of form? Maybe by design Linux looks and feels more complicated; perhaps its role as a “developer tool” makes basic users quiver in fear. Whatever the reason, Linux never had the break that OSX has had since its onset.
Form but no function
I hope many will agree that, while Vista is one beautiful piece of glass, it’s a hollow space past the surface. Its innumerable new, eye-catching features are tantalizing, but on a practical scale, it shows little variation from the preceding XP. Coincidentally, like most beauty in this world, it seems to come with a price: either your sanity, or your RAM. It begs the question, why would users put up with such a bad relationship? Naturally, the operating system’s open quality led to its massive globalization, but at what further cost? Interoperability was what seemed to hold Microsoft together, but now with more customization available and the growing abilities of Web 2.0 sharing and creating, it seems more relevant now than ever to rethink what the true balance of form and function is.
Form and Function equal
The key to Apple’s success is their ability to balance function and form. Never will a device hyperextend itself at the risk of failing. Only the most secure features are added slowly into newer upgrades. The jump from Tiger to Leopard alone reflects this. Instead of recreating a completely new operating system that requires massive hardware upgrades, or so many new features that the system itself feels completely unique and unfamiliar, we see a simple system that reflects characteristics of its ancestors. A few features, here, a few features there, and you’re still secure in your space.
So judge us as you will, but remember, that in a world of trend, somethings are popular for a reason.