The locus of the infantilist aesthetic seemed to be Steve Jobs himself, if his pronouncements at keynote presentations were an accurate representation. The default book in iBooks? Winnie the Pooh. The trailers he used to demonstrate the video capabilities of the device? Pixar movies. The music choices? Resolutely mainstream, conservative and sentimental. At his recent memorial service on the Apple campus, Coldplay and Norah Jones played. Can you imagine these artists playing at a Dieter Rams memorial?
Of course Apple products need to appeal to the mainstream, no matter how much the company pretends that they are somehow different from the competition, so the use of mainstream popular culture is understandable. My theory is that this is much more than a carefully considered marketing strategy though. The addiction to skeumorphism seems to say that it’s a deeply held aesthetic position.
My question is: why does this approach not extend to the devices themselves? Why not make a wooden case for the iMac, like those hideous Sony TVs from my childhood? Or why not a case that makes the computer look like a typewriter? And why, when we have these beautiful, clean, efficient devices, do we put up with this horrific, dishonest and childish crap?
Via Gruber. Rather overstated, but in essence right. The difference in core design aesthetic between (all of) Apple’s hardware and (much of) its software is, for me, extremely discordant. My chief reason for not switching from Google’s cloud services to Apple’s iCloud is that I couldn’t bear to look daily at iCal and Address Book (either the desktop apps or the web versions). I’m genuinely afraid that they’ll extend this tackiness to Mail or Safari or even the Finder.
If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would come to prefer Google Calendar to iCal for aesthetic reasons I wouldn’t have believed you, but it’s true. Google’s software products are getting better looking; Apple’s are getting worse.