Apple's design conundrum - to refine or redesign

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by sparkie7, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. sparkie7 macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Since the launch of the 'new' designs it seems Apple was under pressure for years to 'update' its all aluminum designs. Which to my mind are a design classic now. Timeless. Lasting for 5 yrs, longer than any other Apple notebook design, it still looks modern and contemporary (at least to my eyes). So imagine the designers thinking.. how can we improve on this design..

    So maybe this pressure for a 'redesign' came at cross-purposes. One for Apple to go more for the iMac look and target the masses. And at the same time to present some new bling. I think its a mistake to blur the mass and pro levels. From a manufacturing point of view there are huge savings and less headaches of course.

    I for one feel that the new design has gone backwards design wise. The original thin bezel, all alu keys, matte screens, couldn't be improved on. Some say the new black keys are better, but why not allow a custom option for an alu coloured key set?

    The MacBook Air was done exceptionally well, save for the chicklet black keyboard and fat bezel, but loved the tapered design.. which was what I was expecting of the new 15 and 17 MBP designs. That would have been enough of a design 'update' for me. Oh plus a full numeric keypad on the 17's - which I believe there is enough space. The price we pay for these machines should mean we get custom design for each size of laptop. Don't you think? Not just another reason to cut production costs so one keyboard fits all laptop sizes

    How much can a wheel be improved on, unless we are talking something all together technologically radical and different, like a screen that can be rolled up like paper or a holographic screen.

    Anyways, just my thoughts. A bit of a catch 22 when one already has a good piece of industrial design that has stood the test of time and maybe will continue to do so in some shape or form.

    Your perspective?
  2. ftbps macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2008

    I agree. Apple should just keep the old design and not bother updating their lineup unless something exceptional comes up. New MBPs are disaster
  3. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    I think it's been proved over and over that the opinions on discussion boards like this run counter to commercial success.

    The old design was tired and needed to be replaced. I don't see it as classic at all. I much preferred the previous PowerBook G4 Titanium design to the aluminum designs that followed. I think the new unibody is vastly better than the previous.
  4. itcomic macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    to be honest, I never have interest to get a macbook until I see this unibody design, I totally fall in love with it. It is so much more sturdy, solid and thinner than last gen. The design looks so clean and refresh. The ONLY thing they need to improve is the sharp edge close to the touchpad and increase the battery life without scraifice weight or if possible, gives more USB ports and make it even thinner then what we have now.
  5. r88my macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2007
    Manchester UK
    Other than the black bezel around the screen, I think the redesign is better.
  6. the mac geek macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2008
    I personally like the black bezel. Compared to my old MBP and my 30" ACD, the black bezel is much less intrusive than an aluminum colored bezel. I find that overall, the black is less distracting when working on photos and designing as opposed to the aluminum color of my ACD.

    I think the new MBP is exceptional and what they have done warranted an update. I also don't think my laptop is a disaster.

    On the topic of this thread, Apple will always be in this situation, to leave their machines the way they are, touch them up a bit, or completely redesign. Apple knows when to do each one, I don' t think they let the pressure of the consumers who want change for the sake of change get to them. It is clear even from this update that consumer pressure was not the driving factor, instead their unibody enclosure was the driving factor.

    Apple has done a great thing with these new machines. I have been enjoying mine and will continue to for quite some time. Eventually, this machines will look dated and the cycle will repeat.
  7. powderblue17 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2007
    I think this redesign was great as the new laptop just looks so much better at least to me. It has no plastic ring around it and no mechanical latch which were my biggest complaints about the old one. The new one is seamless and much more sturdy. The only complaint people have is the black keyboard and border but even that makes the old one look boring now to me. The only Macs I truly miss are the Cube and iMac G4. Those were just great designs which I wish were never abandoned.
  8. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    You can always add spinners. :D

    Personally I would have been pissed if I bought a MBP and it looked like my 5yp Powerbook.

    I prefer the new look to the old one and the black keys definitely help the backlit keyboard, which is a major feature for me. The glass is fine and the black bezel helps the screen pop even more. The plastic case separators always felt like the equivalent of sticking a folded-up coaster under the leg of a table to stop it form wobbling.

    But lets be honest, if it doesn't look like a Pismo it sucks. :D
  9. minijon macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2008
    St. Louis, MO
    It will be like the iPod nano's. One year fat, the next year back to tall. The MBP will eventually go back to a aluminum colored keyboard, and an aluminum bezel. "New for the sake of New"
  10. TheMonarch macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2005
    Bay Area
    I have the new MBP and I don't mind the 'chicklet' keys, although I do wish they were a different color.

    The black keys remind me of what Honda used to do to their Accord/Civic LX, making the side body moldings plain black unless you got the fancier version.
  11. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Sure, just like they went back to the two-tone cases of the TiBooks. Based on past experience, you are going to have to wait.

    The OldBook Pro's design lasted 5 years from when it was a Powerbook.
  12. mcruzader macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2008
    This is how the wheel can be improved on...

    Anyways, I personally love the new Macbooks, they are just breathtaking. Their curves, aluminum build, glass, etc.. :apple: should have done this a while back.
  13. 173080 macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2003
    I agree that the previous design was a timeless classic. I'm not happy at all about the dramatic change, it would have been awesome if they had just upgraded the classic design to unibody. There are some things Apple could have improved on besides making it unibody, like making the aluminum bezel thinner at least like it used to be on the PBG4.

    Design-wise I saw the classic MBP as a Bentley Arnage or Jaguar XJ. Timeless elegance. It should have been updated as such, perfecting it continously.
  14. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    I also think the unibody element of the new design is fantastic. It just about the only strong improvement externally speaking.

    It would have been awesome if the redesigns consisted of the unibody + alu keys + super-thin alu bezel + even the tapered MBA feature!

    Thinner, lighter, faster = Heaven :D
  15. MickdyMickdyMAC macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2008
    I too would love to have seen the classic upgraded to unibody. Unfortunately, without incorporating the chiclet keyboard the key benefits of the unibody may not have been fully realized. IMO, it was a compromise where the design of the chiclet keyboard was secondary to several other factors, and it helps that enough people seem to like the chiclet keyboard.

    The days of the aluminum bezel (or any bezel for that matter) around the screen are long gone. This seamless glass enclosure display is now looking to be a huge part of brand identity. Surely, the Air will eventually be updated to look the part. But this new seamless glass enclosure also is certainly not without its compromises and I think issues (company/brand direction, etc...) beyond design eventually played a larger part in the go-ahead decision.

    Long post short, in the case of MBP I like refine instead of redesign.
  16. DGaio macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2008
    Look, we can agree that the, now old design, will become a classic, just like many of apple products in the past they have something remarkable in terms of industrial design that sets them apart from the rest.

    Now, the tricky part is how to involved without getting off track? This question won't be answered now or even in the next few years. A redesign was needed, not only because the product line was diverging in terms of coeeance, but in a fast society like ours "demand" a state of novelty in consumer products. And of course brand image is the key to commercial success in todays economy, meaning form over function will have greater impact in decision making.

    My personal take on the redesign:

    >With the recent iMacs they introduced a new image (black on aluminum), there for the product line seemed a bit divided, even if it wasn't so drastic.

    > Form took over: The build quality improved greatly compared with the last generation, with the introduction of the unibody and the glass frame. They now have very slim lines across the product and the chances of breaking because of many little parts is reduced greatly, indeed beacuse the product is more of a solid piece then the sum of alot of breakable pieces. That is a plus in my opinion. Now days trend is to build products that even thought they look/appear to be very solid, they have a very dubious quality in the end.
    A disadvantage is cost. It will be expensive in the beginning, don't kid yourself, as far as I know this process in products like notebooks is a first (and this is why, in my belief, Apple didn't cut the prices), it will be expensive in the beginning and costs will lower as time goes by eventually.

    > Function: This is going to be a tricky concept to understand in the beginning but the main reason we see the removal of features is because of product differentiation (and this is bound to be very controversial): between Macbook and Macbook Pro that is. I assume the cheaper way to achieve this was to maintain the build quality equal between both products (instead of having different materials: as in cheaper for Macbook and expensive for Macbook Pro) and remove features from them:

    - Because of the upcoming OSX Snow Leopard, GPGPU will have a big weight in terms of how performance against the corrent version will improve, so there was a necessity to introduce a better GPU on the product line, since the Intel solutions wasn't going to cut it eventually. This narrowed the gap between the two products so they had to differentiate it in some way, by removing firewire from the lesser product (by the reaction, even if negative, I presume it was exactly expected). Unfortunately this is how the market works: the Macbook is now more then ever targeted to casual consumers (and switchers) and the Macbook Pro to professionals (or so they say - personal rant -;)).

    - The black bezel and glass frame (as well the keyboard) were introduced to streamline the product line of the Mac computers (the Mac Pro, eventually the last one, we'll see if that happens in January). Regarding the Glass frame for Macbook Pro as the only option screen option is the only aspect that still confuses me, and that is all I'm going to say.

    - Performance improvement is in line with the other revisions, nothing extraordinary, even with the introduction of new technology (dual GPU and DDR3 - which probably is another reason why we don't see a price cut), but it remains future proof still.

    Other questions?

    Why no Macbook Pro 17"? My take on this is (not counting with the fact the in early product launch, the 17" was left out): They did not intent to release the new line this early. Economy as you know isn't in great shape, and before people start holding back on their consumerism (and maybe to estimulate Appel's shares), Apple decided to release it now instead of later, and so not having enough time to refine the 17" part. I personally thought it was kind of a rushed launch just to maintain market demand on the apple products, but that is just my opinion.

    Many of the decisions will not please everyone (that's a given by the reactions we've been seeing) especially for people waiting with high expectations. We need to realize that Apple is here to make money, as any other big company and although many of the decisions do not go with our expectations, this what the market dictates unfortunately. And we will see if this decisions won't change rapidly like as happened before.

    Take care ;)
  17. UMHurricanes34 macrumors 65816


    Sep 13, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    You want thinner, faster, etc but you aren't taking into account any of the design challenges that come along with your wants and desires.

    Thinner bezel? The MBP and PB bezels were about as thin as they come, and about as thin as they can go without sacrificing structural integrity. Want another fat lid laptop? The new MB and MBPs have extremely thin displays thanks to LED technology and the *GASP* seamless glass housing. The glass provides the structure to make the damn thing even possible. An open faced LCD with a bezel, such as the pre-Glass notebooks, have displays that are not only thicker, but are also less solid and robust.

    If you want the old keys, then say goodbye to the magnetic latch. The chiclet keys allow the keys to be located in a small crater in the case, thus keeping them out of the way of the display when it is being closed. The old keys take up more vertical space and would not only leave a mark on that super thin bezeled, matte display of yours, but it'd also prevent the magnetic latch from doing it's job.

    The new designs are a HUGE step in the right direction. Everything was done for a reason and I think it's a damn-near perfect design. Sure, I wasn't a fan of the glass when I first saw the new design, but now I am. And not only that, it all MAKES SENSE.

    In conclusion, you can want the PB/MBP design Mark II for as long as you want, just don't include logistics or engineering in your dream. Apple provided a reason for everything they did with this redesign (disregarding port selections, unless you count Steve's blunt message) and every single thing makes sense.

    So no, it wasn't just change for changes sake. It was change for the sake of having a better idea, and a better way of accomplishing things.
  18. Atomic Ed macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2007
    Good post I agree totally.
  19. firstjudge macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2008
    The old design is extremely dated looking. I've never been particularly impressed with the previous models...they were very boxy looking and really flat in terms of color. If you saw the comparison pics the new version is just much more streamlined and sleek. The silver keys on the old one screamed 80's to me. Everything about the new macbook pro looks beautiful except imo the glossy screen w/black bezel. Apple could have been more imaginative when it came to the design of it instead of just copying PC laptop displays.
  20. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Yeh, well.. Apple's strapline used to be "Think Different"

    Maybe it should now be "Think PC"

    Because the new MBPs look like PC Laptops and have Intel chips inside

    Instead of calling them MacBook Pro's, maybe they should be named MacBook PC's

    Jokes aside, differentiation is key and Apple should be more innovative and stay at the cutting edge, which they have done in the past and currently. Just these new MBPs are a big let down
  21. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Funny, but it's mainly on this forum I see the new design being called a let down. I don't see this in the reviews.
  22. vkt macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2008
    Portland, OR
    That's because all the people who happily own a new macbook or macbook pro are actually enjoying using them. Look around...there is just a bunch of trolls who sit on macrumors forum bitching about every little thing. This group generally tends to consist of people who either a) bought the laptop and had an issue (sorry, you chose to be a 1st gen adopter) or b) people who want one deep down but don't have the means to get it, so they hate.

    Bottom line, the new design is brilliant. People are so quick to jump on and off the Apple bandwagon. If you have so little faith in the company's ability to progress the hardware design in the proper direction then go buy a PC. The new macbook pro design is not radically different at all. It's different, but isn't that the companies slogan? Think Different? Seriously...I thought Apple users prided themselves in supporting a line of products which represent progression and the perfect balance of aesthetic and functionality. Just because you happened to like the old style of MBP doesn't mean the new one isn't great - it's just different. Way too much bitching on this forum. My .02

    Edit: I have used the "old" style macbook pro for over 2 years professionally and I am personally stoked about all the updates. Maybe it's the graphic designer in me, but I can clearly see why they updated what they did. I'm honestly curious to hear a GOOD reason why any aspect of the new design is not desirable.
  23. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Let me put one thing straight. I'm no troll. I've been a loyal Mac user, fan and owner since 1988. ie. the last 20 Years. My first mac was a Mac Plus with a Hyperdrive FX 40 HD!, I have owned about 6+ machines over this period. And I do have the means to buy a 'New' 'Top spec' MBP15, but decided to opt for the latest update on the 17MBP with CTO SSD, Anti-glare screen + 2.6GHz instead for reasons stated in my original post

    How can the new design be "Great" as you so state if there are so many posts about quality, build and design issues? c'mon. get a grip. Open your eyes

    I've been using Apple Macs professionally for the last 16 years. There are so many features which are poorly designed and executed in the New MBPs. Heres just one:

    Why are there no ports on the right side? The CD/DVD should have been left at the front to allow even distribution of ports for left and right hand users.

    There are lots of other 'undesirable' or backward 'innovations' which are in the numerous posts here which I'll not waste server space repeating.

    Over to you.
  24. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Agreed. Intel Inside, and now Intel outside too!
  25. sparkie7 thread starter macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    The Apple vs PC ads will have little relevance soon as the lines will soon be blurred. The only difference will be the Mac OS

Share This Page