October 25, 2007

"Designed in California"

Sometimes I see an article that I wish I’d written, as it just nails something I’ve been thinking for a while.  Joel Spolsky’s piece on the phrase "Designed by Apple in California" neatly captures my thoughts–especially on the idea of California as an idea (very resonant for someone growing up in rural Illinois).  Thank you… thank you for giving a damn.

As for the Zune team apparently aping Apple’s phrase with their "Hello from Seattle," I feel like pulling the Conan O’Brien move that occurs roughly 2:20 into his brilliant visit to ILM, stamping the whole effort "SAD!" [Via]

PS–The "Hello" thing was charming in 1998, too.

Posted by John Nack at 7:16 AM on October 25, 2007

Comments

  • meww — 7:55 AM on October 25, 2007

    ..yawn… how’bout leopard compatibility, ah? adobe.com/support still busy about mac intel and vista. any news this decade? (too sad- time machine goes only backwards..yet :)
    [What *about* Leopard compatibility? How are we supposed to say that we're compatible with something before that thing is done? Why don't we just go ahead and claim compatibility with 10.6 while we're at it? (You're the one with the time machine, though.) Thanks, by the way, for the anonymous AM drive-by; very impressive. --J.]

  • TJ Downes — 8:39 AM on October 25, 2007

    It would be a lot more impressive if these companies could keep these manufacturing jobs in the US. “Designed in California” means about 20 US jobs. “Made in China” means we lost about 200.

  • Rob — 8:52 AM on October 25, 2007

    Typical pro-Apple/anti-Microsoft fluff piece with absolutely no value at all. Or does it actually make the music somehow sound better?
    [First, it's not "anti-Microsoft" per se; I could easily cite any number of clumsy, tone-deaf Adobe marketing efforts. The point *is* to celebrate product development that actually has a sense of soul.
    If style, elegance, cachet, fit & finish didn't matter, then there'd be no iPod: you'd just have a raft of generic $20-50 MP3 players in bubble packs at Best Buy. (Oh, and MSFT wouldn't have bothered to poke fun at themselves in comparison.) Yet there must be something that has kept Apple in a dominant position for the last six years. Yes, things like iTunes & their DRM strategy have helped, but so have great design & the overall aura of the iPod. Either you get that or you... don't. --J.]

  • MikeW — 11:07 AM on October 25, 2007

    My thoughts exactly – MS sometimes reminds me of the dorky kid at school that thought he was cool because he bought a leather jacket – even though people have already moved on to the next thing. What is it about that company that makes it impossible to be hip?
    I guess all those people work in the XBox division. ;-)
    Off topic: John – I hope you have at least tested CS3 on beta versions of Leopard and have some semblance of confidence it will work. You comment above didn’t give me a whole lot of warm fuzzies. ;-)
    [Oh yes: we've been testing the crap out of Leopard+Photoshop for months. We think it's all good; we just haven't wanted to say so officially until we had the final bits in hand. see previous. --J.]

  • Scott Valentine — 12:04 PM on October 25, 2007

    So, let’s just say for the sake of argument, that M$ actually comes up with some original design at some point. Will the design Illuminati give credit where credit is due? Not likely.
    [I dunno; I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt. --J.]
    And what if, by some chance, M$ is trying to learn something from Apple, rather than simply aping them? What if they are recognizing that Apple’s on to some sweet design ethics, and have decided “you know what? That’s a good idea. Let’s see what we can learn.”
    Let’s just suppose, by wild twists that can only be attributed to chaos theory, that M$ is actually learning something from the culture code. Just because Apple got there first, does that make the M$ efforts invalid? Isn’t it better on the whole that they are making an effort at doing something well because it’s popular? Smells like smug self-righteousness; any excuse to bash M$.
    [I think it's great that they're making an effort. Unfortunately I'd have to rate that effort as seeming lame and derivative. Sorry. --J.]
    IMHO, “Designed by Apple…” is pandering. It’s aimed at feel-good marketing based on segregation and group-think belonging rather than good product. Fortunately, Apple also has an excellent grasp on the other side; good product.
    Frankly, Apple’s divisive marketing strategies really turn me off to the company in general. They rarely tout their own products in a standalone way – it’s almost always in some deprecating reference to M$.
    [Really? Sometimes I hear them take potshots as MSFT. ("There's only one version--the ultimate version" seems to be part of the official Leopard talking points.) But by and large I don't see Apple putting up comparison charts that talk about the suckfulness of comparable products from Dell, HP, Sony, whatever. I've never seen them refer to the Zune in marketing. By avoiding those comparisons, they arguably helping to reinforce the message that "there's no comparison." --J.]
    What really saddens me is that culture almost demands this kind of rivalry. “Nothing is good on its own…” sort of thing.
    To be certain, I have no particular love for M$ (as the $ should indicate). But I don’t like band-wagon brand bashing… it smacks of unthinking elitism, a cult of personality. Yes, the iPod is a marvelous design, but it’s mythos is less about performance and more about iconism. Weigh evidence, try for objective evaluation, make choices that make sense as an individual.
    NB: this is not directed at you, John, but rather at the idea of hypocritical bashing that I find very much alive and well in the Mac world. People should choose a product because it meets their needs, not because it comes from the Church of Mac.
    [Oh, believe me, I've got *huge* beefs with the Mac zealots... Huge, I tell you. --J.]

  • Eric Peacock — 12:30 PM on October 25, 2007

    Love or hate the iPod, Apple did both “Hello” and the “Designed by…” captions before anyone else.
    We first saw the “Designed by…” caption on the original iMac hardware. I guess it took the iPod success to bring it into Microsoft’s play book.
    Leopard arrives officially tomorrow though a few have reported early shipments, so I’m sure Adobe PR will move soon if they have anything to say at all.
    I’ve never known an Adobe product to outright break with an Apple update – but even now on Tiger CS3′s update system tends to inexplicably crap out on half the Macs I administer (check the forums!).
    I’ve learned all sorts of ways of fixing, repairing and reinstalling CS3 in the past six months. I’m prepared to have to repair CS3 installations yet again after installing Leopard.

  • Eric — 7:39 PM on October 25, 2007

    Scott V. would have a point, if it wasn’t missing out on understanding where Mac users are coming from. Everywhere we go, every website we visit, when Apple is mentioned, the Anti-Apple trolls come out with the “Macs suck” nonsense. For years, they were right enough for it to hurt a bit. (It’s not that big a deal, we’re talking computers after all.)
    But the fact of the matter is it’s not just Microsoft. It’s pretty much endemic in most of the computer industry, MP3 industry, Software industry (Adobe most notably an exception!) that so badly misses the point that Apple makes about computers and software in general. “We make products we would want to own ourselves.” Apple makes products that are worth making, not just to enrich the bottom line, but to really make great stuff.
    THAT is what makes Microsoft, Dell, HP, IBM, etc., so much less when it comes to innovation, quality and style. Too many spreadsheet jockeys deciding what can’t and can’t be a part of their designs. Money is too important to them. It trumps all else. Not so at Apple.
    Yes, money IS important to them. But design is also very important. Making great products has a significant sway in decisions made there. “The Steve” has the final say and veto power (thank goodness he has good taste!) so that only good stuff makes it out the door – most of the time anyway.
    Their competitors have way too many people making the final decisions. The proverb is as true today as it ever was: “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Like I said, it’s not just Microsoft. They just tend to make themselves lightning rods by being the poster child for what’s wrong with the issue at hand, all the while telling people how great they are and how innovative their products are in an echo chamber that hasn’t allowed their true believers to actually ask whether their propaganda is true or not. And that leads to bad decisions, bad products, and bad reviews.

  • ms — 3:01 AM on October 26, 2007

    I think about how we are into what, the 7th version of windows, and it still doesn’t do very much at all for the consumer. Zune is embarrassing just because it’s a blatant copy. Let’s throw another inferior media player into the mix to get a piece of the pie. Korea cranks out a new media player every 7 days. A Zune? So what? MS could have stood out with that one. Made it in America, or had the touchscreen that many people were asking for well before ipod touch. Instead it’s known as “not an ipod.”
    They could have stood out with this latest vista, which is why I’m not buying it. (the hell with gaming) All they had to do was make it easier somehow. Make it $125 across the board. No more upgrade pricing vs full. They’ve been talking for years about working from your home and convenience and changing the way work is done, but yet they draw these imaginary lines for Home Basic, Business Premium, and so forth. Build me a bridge for once MS!!
    A guy on Slashdot made the best comment today on MS, that I had to find and share it. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=340399&cid=21122885
    But credit is due to Microsoft in computer mice design. And the XBox360 is obviously a stand-out product.

  • Blue Buffalo — 12:39 PM on October 29, 2007

    Can’t we all just get along?
    I am going to start the first “Mac/PC users unite for the good of all mankind conference”.

  • chris towner — 3:24 PM on January 22, 2013

    microsoft and apple can both pound it in their respective a**es considering i cannot use flash based content from my xbox360 console web browser because ms and apple cant get over themselves with their proprietary crap.

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