My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 27

My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 27

Summary: How important is style to Mac owners?

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TOPICS: Apple
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How important is style to Mac owners?

One of the first things that struck me about the MacBook Pro (and my iPods for that matter) was the attention that Apple pays to even small stylistic details.  With all the Apple products I've handled, the product that you've bought isn't inside the box, the packaging is part of the product and the overall experience that you've bought and paid for (and I have no doubts that you do actually pay extra for this).  I've bought a number of notebooks in my time and every one of them has come in an uninspiring cardboard box, wrapped in a plastic bag and with all the accessories and manuals jammed around it. 

[poll id=76]

The MacBook packaging is exquisiteThe MacBook packaging is exquisite.  There's no other word for it.  It's obviously that the packaging has not only been designed to protect the notebook but also to present the new owner with their new purchase in the best possible way.  Apple obviously believes that how the product is presented is of the utmost importance and it doesn't want you having to rip the front off a cardboard box, generating ear-piercing squeals as you drag the notebook out of it's polystyrene cocoon while being buried under manuals and pieces of paper.

Now to me style isn't all that important.  Give me function any day.  I prefer packaging to be minimal since this makes it a lot easier to recycle.  But there must be a reason why Apple chooses to sell their products in this way.  The company must believe that how things look, even the packaging, is important to it's customers and that people are willing to pay for an experience that begins before the box is even opened.  In other words, this must sell products.

So, how important is style to you?  If you are a Mac owner, how much did style influence your purchasing decision?  Do you think that other companies could follow in Apple's footsteps and improve sales by improving the customer experience?

Topic: Apple

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25 comments
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  • Apple is attempting to prevent

    Apple is attempting to prevent post-purchase regrets and doubts. By making the opening of the laptop an experience, they prolong the excitement of the purchase and heighten anticipaction for the product.

    By lowering the potential for buyer regret (even from temporary regret) they can achieve greater word of mouth advertising etc...
    mtgarden
  • Style always carries some weight

    While style isn't necessarily the defining point in the purchase of an Apple product, it certainly is a bonus factor. Are there any other products at all that garner the enthusiasm of an "unpacking party", or unpacking photo splurge to be posted on the person's blog? Head over to Technorati and search for unpacking and Apple products will be on the top of that list.

    You never log onto a technology or personal blog and read about someone posting their unpacking pictures for their new HP. This topic is talked about in the "Cult of Mac" book, and people really get into it because it truly is fun and becomes part of the experience of buying an Apple product.

    The designs of the packaging and the product sort of feed off of each other I think. People know Apple products look great. With that they expect great packing, and when you put them together next to each other they both just make the other look even more great. Would a shiny white Macbook or Aluminum Macbook Pro look nearly as beautiful coming out of a brown cardboard box with large styrene? No, of course not. It looks beautiful because the packaging is a frame around the picture, and that frame, being equally as beautiful enhances the product, as a proper frame should.
    msupert@...
    • Yes, I have to agree

      that although the whole story isn't style, it does factor in to some degree. As a Mac guy, I am currently typing this on a IBM ThinkPad T42 that I bought new in late 2005. Yes, the ThinkPad is very serviceable, but it came packed in brown cardboard with a poster-like manual wrapped around it, all just sitting between 2 styrofoam blocks. I sure didn't feel like this was very special to IBM. And I paid MORE for this laptop than I did for my 12" G4 PowerBook just two months earlier. Again, no beefs about the ThinkPad -- it is serving me well. I realize that packaging products such as computers, laptops, etc may be viewed as a wasted exercise, but I will never forget the crowd of IT guys and Programmers that gathered when I opened a brand-new G4 Titanium PowerBook my company had bought me back in 2001. The buzz of envy went around for weeks. I also got a lot of 'visitors' popping in to see how it was going (and ask a few more questions). Yeah, there is a certain amount of buzz that can be created with the proper PRESENTATION.
      999ad@...
  • Yes, function is more important than style

    But it's kind of nice to have both great function AND style, isn't it? It's obvious that Apple puts a lot of thought and effort into both.
    Userama
  • Don't confuse "style" and "design"

    Design is what's important to me, as a Mac user. While that does include the way things look, that's a minor consideration. Design is more about the way things work, ergonomics, interface, functionality, etc. Any style points are purely extras, but they are indicative of Apple's attention to design, and how deeply this philosophy runs. Seems to me like it would be contradictory to put a huge effort into design and then give the user a less than optimal purchasing and setting up experience.
    tic swayback
  • Is style important to humans?

    The [i]Is style important to Mac Users?[/i] Poll is really a red herring. Style, as a component of aesthetics is important to everyone. It is built into our DNA to choose beauty.
    Order, proportion and simplicity are characteristics humans look for in the physical appearance of a mate because it denotes healthy genes. Subsequently, we transpose these ideals to our enviroment.
    It's a pretty fundamental function and has nothing to do with Mac users. I think it's only certain Applephobes who lurk around these PC centric message boards that try to insinuate that nobobody but "Mac zealots" care about style.
    Tigertank
    • What is right, why is pure speculation

      It is true that the desire for beauty is innate to humans. However, the prattle about
      it being the result of genetic selection is just so much technobabble, and
      demonstrably false. For example, in middle ages europe, a plump woman was
      considered the height of beauty. In Tokugawa Japan, tiny feet were considered
      beautiful. So much so in fact, that women would bind their feet to the point where
      they couldn't walk properly without assistance. The perfectly proportioned
      supermodel of American culture's idea of beauty is just that: cultural. And please,
      no additional prattle about genetic factors favoring plump women in fuedal
      societies because it denoted wealth and thus higher survivability for offspring. All
      that does is further reinforce the fact that social darwinism is nothing more than a
      tautology.
      frgough
      • You must be ugly..

        If you completely miss my point and angrily dwell on the least applicable part of my comment.
        But if we must digress:

        [1]It is true that the desire for beauty is innate to humans. However, the prattle about
        it being the result of genetic selection is just so much technobabble1 and demonstrably false. [/i]

        So it is "innate" to humans but not Genetic? How else would it be innate?

        [i]For example, in middle ages europe, a plump woman was
        considered the height of beauty. In Tokugawa Japan, tiny feet were considered
        beautiful. So much so in fact, that women would bind their feet to the point where
        they couldn't walk properly without assistance. The perfectly proportioned
        supermodel of American culture's idea of beauty is just that: cultural.[/i]

        Those are examples of fads. It's not what I was talking about. It is a universal constent across all cultures that Men and women prefer traits that define Feminine or Masculine qualities. Those traits tend to be proportions of the width of the waist to hips to chest etc. The distance between the eyes, the length of the upper leg compares with the lower leg etc. I can't rattle off actual ratios but this is true of all cultures. Even cultures who hold different ideals of beauty, still find people who deviate from these proportions as unattractive. This is basic college biology, not speculation.

        [i]And please, no additional prattle about genetic factors favoring plump women in fuedal societies because it denoted wealth and thus higher survivability for offspring. All that does is further reinforce the fact that social darwinism is nothing more than a tautology.[/i]

        First off, you are providing an example of actual darwinism- not social darwinism which doesn't help your argument (BTW.)

        I am assuming you are a creationist, and are just prattling off so much technobable of your own. As I've said before, I'm an Architect not a biologist, but this is elementary first year biology class stuff.
        Tigertank
        • For what it's worth, and off topic:

          I'm also a creationist. I however do not see a conflict between creationism and evolution. Evolution a word that describes a process. As evolution is a process, it had to begin at some point in time. My guess was upon creation of that process. Therefor, as a human, I may have evolved and may still be evolving however ultimately I was created by my Creator.
          People
  • Narrow point

    The packaging is only one narrow aspect of the Mac's appeal.

    Anyone who enjoys using a Mac knows that the style of the packaging, which is
    obvious to anyone with eyes, is a marketing statement about the product inside
    the box. It says this product has been made with an eye to detail. Arguably, this
    is a true statement. At least I find the details well worth continuing to use Macs
    (most importantly how the detail is invested in the areas of stability, security and
    development tools).

    The deconstructive exercise of 'what makes Mac appealing' is always prone to fail
    because it misses the real genius of Macintosh's wholistic experience approach.
    It's like trying to synthesize a planet with the analyzed components found on
    earth. You'll never get the equivalent of an earth.

    So while Macs are considered too expensive by most PC users, they'll continue to
    be judged by their covers.
    YinToYourYang-22527499
  • Style isn't important

    Anyone who says that is a liar.

    So, Adrian, when you buy clothes, all you care about is the function? When you
    bought your stereo, all you did was check the technical specs? How about that HD
    TV? Lumens and contrast ratios was all you looked at?

    Give me a break. EVERYONE is interested in style. When you hear someone say that
    they only care about function in their PC, it's because it's STYLISH to say so within the
    geek crowd.
    frgough
    • Style is important with almost everything

      frgough I agree completely. How many times do people make desision everyday from the smallest to the larges purchase and it comes down to style being the deciding factor? When I bought my house, car, appliances, sofa, chairs, stereo, TV, tiles, wood floors, computer case, lighting, clothes, etc. I could go on and on, style was a major component of the decision making process.
      Obvously, we're looking at functionality as a deciding factor in our purchases as well, but when there are lots of products to choose from that are acceptable in their functionality then style is the deciding factor. I don't know anyone who sees two cars - or whatever - of similar specs, function and price and they choose the uglier model as a preference. I know style is subjective, but I think mostly people choose impulsively leaning toward style.

      A fairly simplistic article which the Talkback has totally improved by reader feedback. I've noticed lately these ZDNET bloggers need to progressively think a little deeper than the narrow focus of their article. There's a bigger picture to many of the articles that I've read. Just being constructive.
      Rude Union
  • Elegant

    The packaging is elegant, the hardware is elegant and the software is elegant. It's
    the theme of the machine.
    WetcoastBob
  • Don't Dismiss the Technology

    There is an ongoing impulse on behalf of many to frame Apple as a purveyor of
    "style". It's dismissive. Where Microsoft has focused on ubiquity. Apple has
    focused on refinement. These philosophies extend from package to code. As we
    enter a stage where quality is becoming more important than quantity, we would
    rather have 1 good app than 47 mediocre ones.

    Microsoft has just spent 5 years and 6 billion dollars coming up with something
    that delivers roughly the same user experience as OSX. It's system requirements at
    launch 8 days ago are roughly 4 times what OSX requirements were 6 years ago.

    Maybe it's time to take the focus off style and put it on substance. Why does Apple
    equate to superficiality? Why are head to head tech comparisons off the menu? If
    the PC is the paragon of "function" what exactly are they afraid of?

    Apple has more working capital now than they ever have. They have already
    proven they can do more with much much less. Leopard and iPhone are in the
    wings and an Intel partnership is bearing fruit. They have the skills, and the talent.

    Don't hate them 'cause their beautiful.
    Harry Bardal
  • Urge from childhood

    We are impressed with packaging from a very early age. Anyone with young children knows that a child will remove an exspensive toy from its box and have hours of fun playing with the box. We gadget lovers never lose the child like quality of enjoying the product from the box on up.
    3D_Animator
  • design, style and presentation denotes apples

    interest in its product, as well as the clients interest in its product.

    The whole apple 'experience' is built of user friendlyness, ease of use, and making the units it produces both pleasing and functional.

    As I understand it, apple produced the first home computer, introduced the user interface idea, introduced the mouse, and built an os that freed up the user (most of the time) from having to rebuilt and maintain the system.

    As a long term user of ibm style and mac machines, I know which I enjoy using, and which I hate using.

    I really hope that VISTA delivers its apple style 'experience' to other none mac users. If people hade of had a little forsight, they would have bought apple instead of cheaper inferiour products, and apple users would have enjoyed not just a superior OS (beautifully designed or otherwise) but the full range of programs mac doesn't come with. (same occured with betta and vhs- betta was better, but most consumers went the cheap inferior product, and betta users couldn't get the range of movies that vhs had)

    Most people wanted to pay a little less for their machines, and ultimately pay for that decision through systems that continually fail, continually glitch, are badly infected with crud, and if I may just mention, Y2K ! (that was billions wasn't it?)

    Big business should have bitten the bullet before 2000 and ported across to mac- but being cheapskates, they insisted on supporting- despite all of the evidence- what they saw as the cheaper product.

    Vista took years to produce what mac users were ostensibly working with back with os 9, it then produce osX, and is now about to introduce its latest system.

    I cant wait for the MS pundits to claim that panther is apples response to vista, but they will simply be pulling their longhorns wont they!
    hirez
  • one little thing.

    i was in market for a new notebook for a couple of weeks. I reasearched quite a bit
    on different brand names and the prices that they were offering when i suddenly
    had a wakening. people say that apple products are expensive. but i found that
    even if you take a sony, dell, hp or something like that and compare their
    specifications to the mac book pro specifications, they amount to the near about
    the same price. if you compare the 15" mac book pro with sony, dell, hp, there's
    not much difference on the price range. if there is, its gonna be atmost $100-
    $150. here i also took into consideration the OSes that these machines will be
    running as well as the softwares that ship with it.

    after looking at all these things, you have to take apple's side on the matter. they
    out perform any notebook that i've ever used. the plus point is that they look way
    cooler than any other notebooks out in the market, with exception of a couple of
    models from sony viao series. but even then, the mac book pro is a superbe
    machine and i know this because i just got mine yesterday. yeeeeeehaaaaaa. !!

    so, you really know that other vendors don't give a horses shoe about what their
    system looks like or the packaging but apple, its gives a horses shoe and a cats
    tail and a dogs drool about everything that goes into the hands of the consumer.
    it doesn't leave out anything, not even a small plastic cover to cover the power
    adaptor's socket. its really amazing.

    so 3 cheers for apple and its team.
    salilbhattarai@...
  • Day 27: Guys who buy junk because of packaging are ..(?) It's fruitful (NT)

    (NT)
    Vily Clay
  • I notice good packaging, but unimportant; good OS & h.w. design do matter

    I'm a long-time Mac user. The packaging doesn't matter much to me.
    Of course, I do notice that's it's pretty slick. I guess improves a bit your
    first impression. Maybe overall this has been beneficial to Apple.
    Doesn't matter much to me personally. I appreciate far more the little
    touches in the OS and hardware design.
    jayk_z
  • It's about the experience

    The whole Mac experience is that good design starts with the OS and the internal
    hardware design, and is then carried through the product design and when
    completed includes the packaging, box, everything. The net effect of this is that
    the user knows with confidence that it is a good product because the experience
    with it started when he/her got the box at the store. That is also why Apple
    started its own retail channel to present Apple values to the public at its stores.

    If you go to a VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus dealer, you are looking at good
    design in the dealership, the auto, and then under the hood and in the interior of
    the vehicle. Good design produces better products.

    It all boils down to good design makes it easier for the consumer to use the
    product.

    RH
    Robert Himes