When it comes to Apple, it seems there are two schools of thought. There are plenty of tech pundits who often decry and criticize Apple’s every move (with attempts at balance by those of us who love using Apple products). And, there are the few hundred million customers that lay down their hard earned money for Apple’s latest and greatest in an unprecedented display of loyalty.
What of Apple itself? Personally, I believe Apple reflects co-founder Steve Jobs far more than we may realize. If Apple doesn’t have a touch of multiple personality disorder, I would be surprised.
Take Apple’s technology. Often, we get the latest and greatest innovations in new products. Retina displays are a good example of Apple pushing the envelope. Then, going in the other direction, Apple launches a highly anticipated iPad mini with a relatively anemic screen, a slow processor, minimal RAM, and price gouging storage options.
So much for innovation, right?
There’s been much talk recently about Apple’s use of skeuomorphism in home grown apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ [skyoo-uh-mawrf], or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos, σκεῦος—vessel or tool, morphê, μορφή—shape) is a design element of a product that imitates design elements that were functionally necessary in the original product design, but which have become ornamental in the new design.
Put another way, and more descriptive of Apple’s use of skeuomorphism is this definition.
An element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.
Good examples of skeuomorphism are the bookshelf look in the iBooks app for iPhone and iPad, as well as Stickies, Calendar, Newsstand, Game Center, Find My Friends, Podcast, and many others. Here’s a Hall of Shame list of some of Apple’s lean toward skeumorphism.
Personally, I think the use of skeumorphism in design is merely a matter of taste, and the design community is somewhat divided on the issue (and, there’s no shortage of skeumorphism in iOS and Android OS apps). However, it was Steve Jobs who loved skeumorphism in Apple apps, and he was seconded by former iOS honcho Scott Forstall.
Jobs has been gone from Apple for over a year, and Forstall is busy counting his money and licking his wounds, and no longer in charge of iOS.
With industrial design guru Jonny Ive in charge of Apple’s interface crew, the company’s design personality is set to shift to a new direction. Which way? If Ive’s design work to date is an indication, Apple may shift toward more elegant, minimalistic, and simpler interface designs for the company’s built-in apps.
Another personality change is underway at Apple. Gone is the we-ship-it-when-it’s-ready attitude championed by co-founder Steve Jobs, and now Apple lives in the let’s-ship-it-on-schedule (ready or not) attitude of new CEO Tim Cook.
Apple’s multiple personalities are a bit like watching a real life version of Dr. Who. Every so often the star regenerates and the supporting cast disappears, replaced by a new Dr. and new companions. Tim Cook is Apple’s new Dr. Who, and Jonny Ive is his new companion.