The Myth of Apple’s Great Design

I am almost certainly in the minority here, especially among my designer peers, but I have been off the Apple bandwagon for years now and have never felt more free.

I was reluctant, at first, to leave the comfortable embrace of the cult of Jobs. But it was, at the core of it, a financial decision. I needed a new computer, and I would have loved to have gotten a new Macbook, but I simply could not afford it – not even a pre-owned one. At the time, I was working at a company who had hired a designer on a contract basis to help out with some website design. He used an HP laptop running Windows to not only design and code, but to run his whole (very successful) business. It dawned on me that there was another way.

True, Windows might not be as intuitive or easy to use as MacOS, but I am no novice. I had no trouble figuring it out, and actually have come to embrace some of complexity of Microsoft’s OS. Because that complexity usually equals power – power to do things your way, rather than Apple’s way.

Actually, I would say that I am an operating system agnostic, rather than a Windows convert. I spend 90-plus percent of my time in InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, which are exactly the same no matter which OS you are using. So why pay more?

“Better design,” Apple acolytes will answer. “You pay for Apple’s superior design. It makes your life better, isn’t it worth more?” Well, I say ‘no, it isn’t’, and so does Ian Bogost, in a recent piece in The Atlantic, entitled “The Myth of Apple’s Great Design”.

Bogost gives a rundown of what he sees as Apple’s design failures, explains why the myth of their great design has endured, and why it should not be believed. He sometimes seems to me as if he has an axe to grind, but that doesn’t bother me, as it’s the same axe as mine. A sampling:

Steve Jobs’s design philosophy was fascist more than it was exacting. The man was a not a demigod of design, but its dictator. He made things get made the way he wanted them made, and his users appreciated his definitiveness and lack of compromise. They mistook those conceits for virtues in the objects themselves.

Read “The Myth of Apple’s Great Design” at The Atlantic.

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