Apple design and a broken record

I’m a Apple fan. 1530 is run entirely on macs and we couldn’t be happier. Even after all of the Apple successes over last few years, I still find is amazing that people haven’t zeroed in on why they so successful. Take this quote from Aaron Swartz:

The UI demo Steve Jobs did — calling two people and then merging the calls — is the exact same demo I’d given to all my friends to show off the incredible UI polish and attention to detail by the Sidekick developers. Sure, there were some differences — most notably that Apple’s artists had prettied up the iPhone UI as compared to the 8-bit basement wackos who drew up the Sidekick’s — but it was clear that this was an evolutionary change, not the revolutionary leap everyone made it out to be. ( emphasis added )

Aaron is lamenting the fact that amid all of the iPhone and Android  ( and Storm I guess ) hoopla, people have forgotten about the T-Mobile sidekick. Of course he thinks the sidekick is a superior to the iPhone, just with a uglier UI. After all, the sidekick can do everything the iPhone can and it did it first, so it must be better right? Features are what sell devices, right?

Wrong.

People wanting to actually use it without smashing it to pieces is what sells devices. Joachim Bondo recently released his chess program for the iPhone called Deep Green. Daring Fireball has a great quote from Bondo regarding why it took so long to release his app:

When I compare the various iPhone chess apps (I bought them all), Deep Green offers pretty much the same functionality as the rest, and sometimes more, but with a fraction of the UI. Achieving this is why I’m 4 months later than the rest.

Polishing a UI to make it usable takes more work than people think or like to admit. Engineers, developers, etc… like to believe that the heavy lifting in product development is the functionality. They’ll build something then hand it off the graphics to “pretty it up” when they should be taking usability into account from the very beginning.

People can continue to mock Apple as simply being better than others at visual design and Apple will keep on doing what they do, all the way to the bank.