As long ago as the 1980s, Steve Jobs said that the design of a product was more important than what it could do. It was a bold statement, but one that was ultimately vindicated after Jobs pushed Apple to new heights with the introduction of the iPod and the iPhone. Fast forward nearly 30 years, and that philosophy is very much the cornerstone of the tech industry, as well as other industries throughout the economy. It turns out that people just love beautiful things.
Businesses need to be aware of this trend. They need to understand that a beautifully-finished product is just as important as a product that has a lot of functionality. Arguably, it should be Samsung, not Apple, who have the most beautiful and profitable smartphones. After all, at the dawn of the smartphone era, Samsung was actually the stronger company. Apple made big inroads, though, because of its choice to prioritize design over everything else. Yes, the internals of the phone were sub-standard, but Apple knew that its customers didn’t know or care about things like processors or RAM. All they wanted was something that looked good. Samsung took the opposite path. They went for function, and, as a result, they ended up with handsets that were more expensive to produce, less attractive and that made less of a splash. That’s not to say that Samsung wasn’t successful – it was. It’s just that, from a pure profit perspective, Apple won. Apple took home 80 percent of the profits in the smartphone industry, despite only holding 20 percent of the overall market.
So what other products are beautiful? And what can we learn from them?
Santa Cruz Bikes
Santa Cruz makes some of the most desirable bikes in the world. Unlike other top bike manufacturers, they’re not interested in making their bikes high-tech. Instead, they’re focused on design and mechanical excellence. Not only are their frames designed by professionals, but they’re also finished in-house using state of the art spray painting equipment. To get an idea of the sort of machines they use, see this from Reliant Finishing Systems. Santa Cruz knows that its bikes are expensive. And so if it’s going to convince people to drop $5,000 plus on a push bike, then it’s going to have to give them something that looks pretty special. And it does. All its bikes have impeccable finish and presentation, something that other manufacturers are struggling to match.
Tylt Slim Battery Pack
Another company raising the design stakes is Tylt, a company that makes cases for ugly battery packs. This company has understood its target market perfectly. It knows that it’s customers are people who don’t want ugly in their lives. And so it’s come up with an exquisitely designed, Italian-looking case to cover up all those ugly wires and power outlets.
Slumberjack Sleep Tracker
Finally, Slumber Jack wanted to reinvent the sleep tracker. Instead of some ugly unit sitting on your bedside table, this company designed a minimalist tracker that looks like something out of the film Elysium. In a word, it’s stunning.