Sunday, July 13, 2014

Keep It Simple!

Only now did I learn about Hartmut Esslinger's book Keep It Simple – The Early Design Years of Apple, an insider’s account of the origins of Apple’s iconic products and brand. It's a book every Apple fan will devour. Esslinger who was born in in Germany's Black Forest was in his twenties when he designed the first plastic color TV and HiFi series Wega system 3000. When Wega was acquired by Sony, he created the design of the legendary Sony Trinitron. That's how Steve Jobs learned aboutt him. "In fact,"  Steve didn't really know much about design, but he liked German cars. Leveraging that connection, I explained that design like that has to be a complete package, that it must express the product's very soul; without the excellent driving experience and the history of stellar performance, a Porsche would be just another nice car--but it wouldn't be a Porsche. We also discussed American design, and I offended him when I insisted that American computer and consumer electronics companies totally underestimated the taste of American consumers--Sony's success with clean design being the proof. He was gracious enough to concede that Apple didn't make the cut, but he also said that he was out to change all that, which was why he was looking for a world-class designer. When I asked him about his bigger ambitions, he simply smiled and said: "First, I want to sell a million Macs. Then I want Apple to become the greatest company on earth." For some strange reason, we both agreed that those goals were absolutely achievable."

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