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MacBytes
Oct 2, 2005, 02:56 PM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Apple's competitors attempt to play catch-up in industrial design (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20051002155616)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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Mord
Oct 2, 2005, 03:11 PM
i know i know bugmenot but can someone post the artical?

homerjward
Oct 2, 2005, 03:15 PM
i know i know bugmenot but can someone post the artical?
By design, Apple's competitors playing catch-up


Published October 2, 2005

I don't know if Apple Computer Inc.'s stunning product releases like the credit card-size Nano music player spring from CEO Steve Jobs own brilliance or that of somebody who works for him.

Jobs is, by the way, reputed to be a boss from Hades by more than one biographer.

And speaking of the devil, it's hard not to think of the story of Faust who made a bargain with Mephistopheles as competing tech executives have watched Apple's seemingly endless series of attention grabbing new goods and services since 1997. That's when Jobs rushed back from retirement to save the company from MBAs run amok.

Waves of subsequent products--including iMacs, PowerBooks, iBooks, iPods and now Nanos--have kept Apple front and center in a game in which its actual footprint is negligible while PCs own more than 90 percent of the market.

This time, however, Nano is being met by developments on the Windows side that are putting Apple-type style on form and function for the first time in years, if ever.

New schemes have surfaced where top executives tout new and elegant lines to emulate that flair for style that Apple owns.

New projects at Dell, Toshiba and IBM among others focus on developing computers and gear that appeal for the sheer beauty of their design rather than just getting a job done.

A few days ago Michael Dell, founder and head gearhead in charge at Dell Computer Inc., went to New York's pricey Ritz Carlton hotel on Central Park South to announce a burnished metal-clad laptop dubbed XPS, which emulates Apple's to-die-for tungsten-encased PowerBook.

Upstate from the Ritz in IBM territory in White Plains, N.Y., executives of China-based Lenovo, the new owner of IBM's ThinkPad laptops and ThinkCenter desktop lines, disclosed schemes for white, superspiffy foot-wide laptops with translucent keyboards and 13.3-inch diagonal color screens.

That also describes the Mac line of iBooks that pretty much stunned the planet with its good looks when introduced back in 1999.

And as covered recently in this column, Toshiba already is in the premium marketplace with a feisty little book-size computer running Windows XP called Libretto. Packed into a case that sits on one's palm, the Libretto reminds one of Apple's once-celebrated PowerMac G4 Cube--a business-class Mac packed into a gray and white case the size of a toaster.

It has taken nearly a decade for the PC side of personal technology to grasp what Apple has known ever since it released that first iMac desktop encased in see-through candy colors.

If it's cool, people will pay

Customers seem delighted to pay more for gear if it is pleasing to the eyes and gorgeous enough to spawn envy in onlookers. This is hardly news to the folks at Armani, Porsche and Rolex, but the titans of technology needed to be taught by a maverick like Jobs.

If you doubt Jobs' machinemaking mojo, find your way to a place like the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue and stand in line to put a Nano in your hands. It is like the first time a Cub Scout holds a pocketknife with a fold-out spoon, a miracle of miniaturization and a wonder to behold.

Nanos come in black or pearly gates white and mimic the well-known iPod with a distinctive touch-sensitive control wheel below the small display screen. In fact, the Nano's color screen is just like the screens on newer iPods. Think of Nano as the iPod in Alice's pocket when she drank the smallness potion.

That color screen can display photographs along with information about what tunes are available, what is playing and how loud it plays. Once again Apple pushes the engineering envelope by coming up with circuitry that can link a color screen to the minuscule flash memory chips that provide the storage for hundreds of tunes.

Apple promises fixes

There are reports that some buyers encountered troubles with these bleeding-edge color screens, and Apple promised to make it right with those clunkers.

Maybe the color screen will prove to be Nano's Achilles' heel, but it's worth noting that the company easily got past a flap over battery life when the first iPods were shipped.

My son and daughter-in-law took one look at a Nano and had to have one because the stereo in their Ford includes an iPod dock that makes the 20-disc CD player a white elephant.

The Nano with 2 gigabytes of storage holds 500 tunes and costs $199 while the 4 gb model handles 1,000 tracks and costs $249. The Coates kids didn't miss a beat deciding they need 1,000 tunes on tap instead of a mere 500.

That's the kind of Mephistophelian merchandising magic that the mavens at Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo (IBM) finally are trying to match.
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mduser63
Oct 2, 2005, 03:50 PM
A couple of glaring mistakes really make the article seem dumb. PowerBooks are not (and never have been) made of Tungsten. Also, Steve Jobs didn't "[rush] back from retirement," he was at NeXT when they were bought by Apple. AFAIK, Steve Jobs has never been retired.

plinden
Oct 2, 2005, 04:15 PM
Ack, so this is cutting edge industrial design competing with Apple's (Dell's new XPS line). Well, at least they're no longer using the same-old same-old charcoal cases that they have for at least four years)

http://img.dell.com/images/us/segments/dhs/prodviews/xps600_free_19_fp_131x145.jpg
http://img.dell.com/images/us/segments/dhs/prodviews/xps400_free_19_fp_131x145.jpg
http://img.dell.com/images/us/segments/dhs/prodviews/xps200_free_19_fp_131x145.jpg

winmacguy
Oct 2, 2005, 04:29 PM
i know i know bugmenot but can someone post the artical?
Thats strange, I went straight in and read the article no problem at all :confused:

kiwi-in-uk
Oct 2, 2005, 08:11 PM
He did say laptop. I can only assume he meant this (http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsnb_m170?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs) which is 1.67 inches thick, has a choice of 16 colours for the XPS lettering, a ribbed case cut from a Citroen 2CV, and - bless them - some stylish black packaging.

gregnacu
Oct 2, 2005, 09:36 PM
Ug. That's their new laptop? It's chunky, still doesn't have a slot loading drive, has ports on all sides, and a crappy monitor hinge. But what they really still can't figure out is the naming convention. What exactly is this machine called? Is it an inspiron, or an XPS, or an M170? And what the heck do any of those names mean anyway? With Apple, they made an iBook, and then the next iBook was called an iBook and so was the next. With the exception of adding the "G4" subtitle all of their consumer notebooks are called iBooks. And even the title "book" implies that it is a notebook. Apple's product naming convention is as simple and easy to understand as the hardware itself. I think that's important.

He did say laptop. I can only assume he meant this (http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsnb_m170?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs) which is 1.67 inches thick, has a choice of 16 colours for the XPS lettering, a ribbed case cut from a Citroen 2CV, and - bless them - some stylish black packaging.