Apple is in the habit of churning out stellar products that rule the imagination of customers. One of the key elements to its success is its product design strategy which consistently delivers insanely great products.
Here are some of the key strategies that Apple follows to deliver product designs like iPod, iPad and iPhone:
Apple takes a minimalistic approach to product design. Faber Novel in a slide presentation titled Apple: 8 Easy Steps to beat Microsoft (and Google) states that Apple eliminates 20 percent of non-required functionalities to focus on perfectly designing 80 percent of functionalities that a user really needs.
In an interview with Newsweek in 2004 Apple's industrial designer Jonathan Ive speaking about iPod said: From early on we wanted a product that would seem so natural and so inevitable and so simple you almost wouldn't think of it as having been designed.
Also John Sculley former CEO of Apple in an interview with Cult of Mac speaking on Steve Job's success said: What makes Steve's methodology different from everyone else's is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do - but the things that you decide not to do. He's a minimalist.
Thus the focus on simplicity transpires to basic details like offering a simple UI behind which the complexity of the software is hidden.
Apple maintains complete control over the development of both software and hardware. In an interview with Venture Outsource in 2007, John Maeda Associate Director of Research at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said: Apple 'gets' the software revolution; they just build the right kind of electronic gadgets around it; whereas other companies make products then try to stuff the Internet inside them as an afterthought. This approach eliminates the need to change the product design to accommodate software while companies like Dell have to consistently tweak their products to accommodate Microsoft software. Apple creates software like iOS 4.3 its OS for iPhone and iPad and then designs the hardware which allows full expression to the software. It also uses its custom designed A4 processor which is based on ARM Cortex A8 architecture which powers its iPad and iPhone
No to design outsourcing
Unlike many companies that outsource product design to Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) to save on cost, Apple still maintains tight control over design. Bloomberg in an article titled Commentary: Apple's Blueprint for Genius states that many tech companies meet with ODMs to figure out what designs have been crafted by them and then asks them to change the design to add features. Apple goes against this grain and compels its engineers to do the mechanical and electrical work. Bloomberg cites the example that in the iPod Shuffle, Apple designers had to cut a circuit card in two and stack the pieces, bunk-bed style, to make use of the empty air space created by the height of the battery in the device. However, Apple does outsource its manufacturing to companies like Foxconn in China which maintains rigid control over the production process. As Bloomberg article quotes an executive at a rival MP3 maker saying This is an issue for Apple, because the A-team engineers [at the ODMs] don't like working with Apple. It's like when you were a kid, all your dad let you do was hold the flashlight, rather than let you try to fix the car yourself.