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What if Microsoft designed the iPod box?

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  • User profile image
    kettch

    When I buy something as significant as an iPod (just not an iPod, no iPods, ever) the packaging is either very important, or not at all.

    I go online and research what I am going to buy and then walk into a store that I know has what I need and grab it off the shelf and buy it on the spot. (Office Depot/Best Buy types get confused over why I don't listen to their advice and when I get impatient when they won't open the bleeping cage right away). The other thing that I do is sit there in the store and read all of the boxes. If I am at the store, I don't have access to the internet and I can't get all of the relevant information. So I want a complete feature list, compatability list, hardware and software reqs, all on a  scratch-n-sniff label. Or I just buy it online and save my self the trouble of human contact. Tongue Out

    But, hey... I'm not the kind of person who gets all weak in the knees over product packaging. I guess you have to appeal to the great unwashed.

  • User profile image
    Karim

    ScanIAm wrote:
    It's only the pretentious, black-turtle-necked Apple drones who care about the style of a cardboard box.


    There is an absolutely brilliant column from 2003 that answers your very question:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/g/a/2003/10/01/notes100103.DTL

    The column, in praise of Apple's packaging, starts off with the phrase, "Oh right like you even care."

    The whole column is just sheer genius, because it makes your very argument, it starts off from your point of view -- who cares about the style of a cardboard box? -- and, slowly, inexorably, it draws you...

    No screaming colors and no garish cartoon graphics and no massive corporate logo and no bullet-point exclamation points listing the outrageous features you'll never use and you're like, wait a minute, what they hell does Apple think they're hawking here, art?

    ...to the opposite point of view.

    These are the things that are nearly dead in our mass-consumer culture, things normally reserved for elitist niche markets and swanky boutiques and upscale yuppie Euro spas and maybe cool insider mags like I-D and Metropolis and dwell. They are most definitely not to be expected of mass-market gadget makers. This is why it matters. This is why it's important.

    I don't want to quote the whole column here.  Go read it.  The columnist nailed it dead-on in 2003 and Microsoft still hasn't figured it out.  If you've ever opened an Apple product, you'll probably think, Yeah, I know exactly what this guy is talking about.

    It says something, doesn't it, that they put that much thought into their packaging?  The stuff you're going to throw away?  I mean, if they carefully thought about where the cables should be placed, how they should be folded, where the manual should go -- doesn't it imply that they also put at least as much care and thought into the device itself?

    The old iPod packaging (the "cube") was much nicer than the packaging introduced for the iPod nano and 5G iPod.

    My first iPod was a third-generation unit.  I have to say, the packaging impressed me.  At first, it was a little puzzle: how does it open?  Ok, not too hard to figure out: You slide the cube out of its sleeve.  The black cube then unfolds in half -- it's hinged -- and inside it's all white.  Except for some subtle gray text: Designed by Apple in California.  Then you unfold two flaps -- the whole box is an origami trick -- and on the right is your iPod, and on the left, a white package holding the manuals & software.  The package has a single word on it: Enjoy. 

    Just opening the box puts a smile on your face.

    That's sheer genius.   It's the best kind of advertising.  It associates the emotion of feeling good, feeling like you are doing something special, with seeing a product for the first time.  The "OOBE" that everyone talks about and almost no one gets right.  People remember that good feeling -- that's all the associative cortex in the brain does -- and they become repeat customers.   Repeat customers are always your best customers.  Some of your repeat customers turn into rabid fanboys.  Or your best evangelists.

    Most companies think, once you've made the sale, you've got a customer, therefore who cares about packaging?

    Full Disclosure: Yes, I own a black cashmere mock turtleneck. Expressionless

  • User profile image
    LaBomba

    Apple is style...

    that's why it (iPod) continues to sell so well

    All neat and clean, it's has a new look and feel.

    They're simply being different and it's working for them.

    i just checked out the new macs at best buy...

    i really wanna buy one. no pc laptop looks cooler.

  • User profile image
    LaBomba

    And looking at the latest Vista build it's more of the same...

    clutter, and lot's of it.

    Yay, a sidebar that is going to take up resources and be hardly used!

  • User profile image
    Bobinho

    Man that is just beautiful! The difference between Apple and Microsoft is spelled out right there in that parody. MS can seemingly uglify anything. Just look at Vista.

  • User profile image
    dano847

    Microsoft often does a great job with design and it is rarely noticed. Sad

    This blog is a great example. The design is content focused and very clean. There's hardly any Microsoft branding at all. I love this site for those reasons. The thing that makes the site important is the people and the content they contribute.

    I see two discrete lines of text at the bottom of the page to provide full disclosure and let you know it's a Microsoft site... and a really cool block dude. Wink

    Here's another great example of cool Microsoft layout: http://blogs.msdn.com/max/default.aspx 

    I like this page as well: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/default.aspx

    And I really enjoy using: http://local.live.com/">http://local.live.com

    And another: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/innovation/yourpotential/main.html

    The XBox 360 campaign was recognized for generating some of the coolest ads of 2005...

    Jump Rope Ad:
    http://dwl.xbox-scene.com/video/xbox360-ad.wmv

    Water Balloon Ad:
    http://www.xbox.com/NR/rdonlyres/FBB86DEB-7BE7-49CF-AF2E-27406FFF562D/0/vidxboxcommercial001Hi.asx

    I could go on, but I think you get the point. Smiley

    Apple does a nice job with their designs but they're not perfect. I love using my iPod - it's a cool product. I like features such as the touch wheel and the quality of the ear phones, the huge capacity of the hard drive - but the startup and indexing time is long, the battery life leaves a lot to be desired, the screen shows strange rainbow colors during certain times of the year (it's mentioned in their owners manual), the contact list import doesn't work, the shuffle button is buried deep in the menu structure, wav files of significant length won't play properly, my legacy version of the device won't charge off USB 2.0, the iTunes store definitely has a significant and noticeable presence in iTunes, the software by default rips cd's to mp3 at a poor quality, and I've never understood why there's a hard limit on the size of plaintext files the viewer will render.  The iPod has its problems too. That doesn't prevent it from being a very cool product

    I was impressed with the iPod packaging too. A previous post mentions the simplicity of the messaging inside the box. That impressed me too. It's brilliant. But look at this Apple.com page: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore?productLearnMore=MA166Z/A --- is it as brilliant as the iPod box? Hardly. Does that make it poor? I don't think so. Does this mean that Apple doesn't know anything about design? Not at all! In fact, it could easily be argued that this page is very well suited for its audience. 

    These discussions and issues are very interesting to me. I don't think these need to be religious debates though. It's too easy to state Apple "is style". What about Motorola? What about Maxtor (I really like my one touch II) or Bose? What about all the great high end stereo designers of the 1970's and 1980's? How about the industrial designers of the 1950's? What about Ray and Charles Eames? The designers at BMW? Kool Keith? Can't they all have some style? Smiley

    Besides, if Apple has a monopoly on style, I'm going to advocate internally we pursue litigation. Tongue Out

    Apple and Microsoft both have a lot of talented people who care about design. 

    The video is funny. I dig it. Props to whoever made it. Cool

     

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    sometimes i see poor microsoft designs

    but man

    do i have to take a photo of my xp box and its contents to prove to you how minimalistic they designed it.

    get out your own box i guess and take a look.

    so get off microsofts back about this

    they shouldnt be the whipping boy for bad design because there are hundreds of companies out there that should beat microsoft to that honor

  • User profile image
    Karim

    brian.shapiro wrote:
    so get off microsofts back about this

    they shouldnt be the whipping boy for bad design




    [whipcrack]

    "I'd say that's got some shelf presence."

    EDIT: Helps if you play music while looking at this.  (Or, if you have an iPod, buy the music from iTunes)

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    yea dont use some weird japanese box that nobody in the states has seen to prove MSs bad design.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    brian.shapiro wrote:
    yea dont use some weird japanese box that nobody in the states has seen to prove MSs bad design.


    Microsoft designs software boxes like washing detergent: "NEW! Protects against stains|viruses* better than ever!" (Delete as appropriate), Apple doesn't need to "sell" their software, their close-knit niche status, cult following, and reliable social networks ripe for viral-marketing ensure that their latest iProduct will be snatched from the shelves. Microsoft, too, has a cult following (granted, not with as much furvour, but refer to Neowin and Bink as examples) but instead uses the "old money" approach of selling to PHBs (who need sales-bullets) rather than those lower-down in the capitalist food-chain.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    W3bbo wrote:
    ...ensure that their latest iProduct will be snatched from the shelves.

    If it is an iPod.

    Let's keep in mind that pretty much anything else from Apple is gathering dust on those same shelves.

    (to keep things in perspective, Apple sells about 3.5 mils computers every year. Windows XP Media Center Edition, arguably the less common among Microsoft's consumer operating systems, sells about 3 mil per quarter)

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    PaoloM wrote:
    (to keep things in perspective, Apple sells about 3.5 mils computers every year. Windows XP Media Center Edition, arguably the less common among Microsoft's consumer operating systems, sells about 3 mil per quarter)


    Judging by these figures, I'd say Apple sells slightly over 4 million Apple Macintosh units in a year.

    I've had a look around on the Internet for MCE sales figures, I have found numbers from early 2005 which doesn't seem to be doing nearly as good as Apple (some 400,000 sales between 2004-08 and 2005-01), granted the sales would have accelerated somewhat since then, but I doubt they're anywhere near 3 million units / qtr.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Karim wrote:
    ScanIAm wrote: It's only the pretentious, black-turtle-necked Apple drones who care about the style of a cardboard box.


    There is an absolutely brilliant column from 2003 that answers your very question:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/g/a/2003/10/01/notes100103.DTL

    The column, in praise of Apple's packaging, starts off with the phrase, "Oh right like you even care."

    The whole column is just sheer genius, because it makes your very argument, it starts off from your point of view -- who cares about the style of a cardboard box? -- and, slowly, inexorably, it draws you...

    No screaming colors and no garish cartoon graphics and no massive corporate logo and no bullet-point exclamation points listing the outrageous features you'll never use and you're like, wait a minute, what they hell does Apple think they're hawking here, art?

    ...to the opposite point of view.

    These are the things that are nearly dead in our mass-consumer culture, things normally reserved for elitist niche markets and swanky boutiques and upscale yuppie Euro spas and maybe cool insider mags like I-D and Metropolis and dwell. They are most definitely not to be expected of mass-market gadget makers. This is why it matters. This is why it's important.

    I don't want to quote the whole column here.  Go read it.  The columnist nailed it dead-on in 2003 and Microsoft still hasn't figured it out.  If you've ever opened an Apple product, you'll probably think, Yeah, I know exactly what this guy is talking about.

    It says something, doesn't it, that they put that much thought into their packaging?  The stuff you're going to throw away?  I mean, if they carefully thought about where the cables should be placed, how they should be folded, where the manual should go -- doesn't it imply that they also put at least as much care and thought into the device itself?

    The old iPod packaging (the "cube") was much nicer than the packaging introduced for the iPod nano and 5G iPod.

    My first iPod was a third-generation unit.  I have to say, the packaging impressed me.  At first, it was a little puzzle: how does it open?  Ok, not too hard to figure out: You slide the cube out of its sleeve.  The black cube then unfolds in half -- it's hinged -- and inside it's all white.  Except for some subtle gray text: Designed by Apple in California.  Then you unfold two flaps -- the whole box is an origami trick -- and on the right is your iPod, and on the left, a white package holding the manuals & software.  The package has a single word on it: Enjoy. 

    Just opening the box puts a smile on your face.

    That's sheer genius.   It's the best kind of advertising.  It associates the emotion of feeling good, feeling like you are doing something special, with seeing a product for the first time.  The "OOBE" that everyone talks about and almost no one gets right.  People remember that good feeling -- that's all the associative cortex in the brain does -- and they become repeat customers.   Repeat customers are always your best customers.  Some of your repeat customers turn into rabid fanboys.  Or your best evangelists.

    Most companies think, once you've made the sale, you've got a customer, therefore who cares about packaging?

    Full Disclosure: Yes, I own a black cashmere mock turtleneck.


    From the article wrote:

    This is what Apple does. This is what they are known for and why their design team is so famous and why they win so many awards and why they engender such passionate devotion from their adherents and why Macs are still far, far superior to PCs and always will be. It's true.



    Crist on a cracker....are our lives so empty and hollow that the visceral experience of opening a paper and styrofoam package will somehow fullfil us?  Are we all a bunch of eskimos looking for someone to sell us some ice-cream?

    From the article wrote:

    Is it just another goddamn overpriced radioactive instantly obsolete tech gadget they suck you into buying via sinister marketing and cloying ad copy and the sense that if you don't buy one now you must be a Luddite dork? Sure. But then again, maybe, just maybe, if you look a little closer, it doesn't always have to be.


    Sorry, Charlie, it does always have to be.  Unless you get stuck in some kind of stasis chamber time-warp, your 5Gig iPod will eventually be as timeless as buggy-whips and whale-blubber reading lamps. 

    Self affirmations to the effect of "I've been sold a quality product, look how great the package is" reeks of elitism and auto-erotic brainwashing.

  • User profile image
    Cider

    W3bbo wrote:
    PaoloM wrote: (to keep things in perspective, Apple sells about 3.5 mils computers every year. Windows XP Media Center Edition, arguably the less common among Microsoft's consumer operating systems, sells about 3 mil per quarter)


    Judging by these figures, I'd say Apple sells slightly over 4 million Apple Macintosh units in a year.

    I've had a look around on the Internet for MCE sales figures, I have found numbers from early 2005 which doesn't seem to be doing nearly as good as Apple (some 400,000 sales between 2004-08 and 2005-01), granted the sales would have accelerated somewhat since then, but I doubt they're anywhere near 3 million units / qtr.


    From Globeinvestor.com in January:

    "Media Centre-based PCs picked up a lot of traction in 2005, Mr. Gates said. Cumulative unit sales to date are 6.5-million worldwide, of which 5.5-million were logged last year, he said.

    In addition, Intel Corp., which is promoting its so-called Viiv chip technologies aimed for multimedia machines for the networked, digital home, will require that Viiv customers base their products on Microsoft's Media Centre Edition."

    (apologies for the colours!)


    Mind you, these figures shouldn't surprise anyone who has been into any PC chain such as PC World or watched something like QVC - 3/4 of the PCs they sell there are running MCE.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Cider wrote:
    "Media Centre-based PCs picked up a lot of traction in 2005, Mr. Gates said. Cumulative unit sales to date are 6.5-million worldwide, of which 5.5-million were logged last year, he said.


    That's still nowhere near 3m/qtr, more like 1.4m/qtr which is only marginally more than Apple's sales.

    Cider wrote:
    In addition, Intel Corp., which is promoting its so-called Viiv chip technologies aimed for multimedia machines for the networked, digital home, will require that Viiv customers base their products on Microsoft's Media Centre Edition."

    (apologies for the colours!)[/quote]

    Out-of-context, Cider, you should have highlighted the first 2 words of the original statement Wink

    Cider wrote:
    Mind you, these figures shouldn't surprise anyone who has been into any PC chain such as PC World or watched something like QVC - 3/4 of the PCs they sell there are running MCE.

    Well yes, I suppose part of the surge in sales can be explained by the "push"-factor presented by the big shops, I suppose if Apple did allow PC World to ship their computers then they'd see similar sales, rather than contract it out to John Lewis, of course it's probably part of the Mac Cult not to be involved with "commoners" that shop at PC World.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    maybe, w3bbo.

    but i want to prove something.

    when i got my xp box and opened it, it was a pleasant experience.

     

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    btw, Karim,

    I hate how on iBooks you have an overly large Apple logo on the back. And Microsoft didn't design the Zen--which does look ugly and obnoxious. The MS prototype for origami doesnt look ugly at all

  • User profile image
    Mike Dimmick

    W3bbo wrote:
    Microsoft designs software boxes like washing detergent:


    Should we be surprised? IIRC Steve Ballmer used to work for Lever Brothers, or Proctor and Gamble (can't recall) marketing soap powder, before he joined Microsoft.

    Admittedly that was probably more than 25 years ago now...

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