Tag: Apple

Apple Pay Signals New Era at Cash Register

Timothy D. Cook, chief executive of Apple, unveiling Apple Pay at a news conference last month. Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Not a single purchase has been made with Apple’s new payment system, Apple Pay, which will allow people to pay for everyday goods with their smartphone.

But the service, expected in the coming weeks, already has the technology industry scrambling to profit from a future in which apps could regularly replace cash, checks and credit cards.

If doubts remained about the far-reaching implications of Apple’s entry into the market, they were almost surely cast aside on Tuesday. In a surprise announcement, the e-commerce giant eBay said it would spin off PayPal, long the dominant digital payment service — a move meant to make PayPal more nimble in a fast-changing market.

“The era of digital payments is upon us,” said John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay, announcing the split to investors.

It remains far from certain that Apple Pay, which uses the fingerprint reader on recent iPhones to confirm identities, will become a hit. The promise of convenient and secure mobile payments has long been hailed — by start-ups and powerful companies like Google and Verizon. That promise has remained largely unfulfilled.

But the swift reaction by companies in the three weeks since Apple Pay was unveiled makes clear that how we normally pay for goods and services is ripe for transformation.

Square, a prominent payment start-up, plans to allow merchants the ability to accept Apple Pay transactions in the future. Stripe, a payment processing start-up based in San Francisco, has agreed to work with Apple to help more small businesses accept Apple Pay.

EBay’s announcement, meanwhile, was an abrupt about-face. This year, facing calls by the activist investor Carl C. Icahn to split the company in two, eBay’s executives vehemently argued that eBay and PayPal were more valuable together. PayPal probably has the most to lose if Apple Pay becomes successful.

“It used to be the case that the Internet was kind of the Wild West,” said John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe. “Ten years ago, people were scared of checking out on random websites. Now, consumers are no longer unfamiliar with online commerce.”

Each previous form of mobile payment has run into one problem or another. Google Wallet, for example, was hamstrung by limitations on the types of phones and cellular networks with which it was compatible, leaving Google to focus its mobile commerce efforts elsewhere. Softcard, the product backed by major wireless carriers, has seen little enthusiasm for its mobile wallet for similar reasons.

As a result, cash and credit cards remain the norm in physical stores. So consumers have been unconvinced that paying with a phone at the register is any faster or safer than doing so with a credit card.

And online, only 11 percent of e-commerce spending happened on mobile devices in the second quarter, according to data from comScore, an Internet market research firm. The rest is made on desktop computers, largely because it is easier to enter payment information on a desktop than a smartphone.

“Apple Pay is good for everyone in the payments ecosystem because ultimately, it increases the amount of transactions that are happening on mobile,” Mr. Collison said.

With Apple Pay, which is expected to be available within a month, people can pay online or in person with their phone, using an iPhone’s fingerprint sensor to check out, an experience that Apple says will be faster and safer than offerings from its predecessors. Many major restaurant and retail chains, including McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Macy’s, have signed up to accept payments this way.

Part of the scramble among companies comes from Apple’s reputation for upending other industries. The iPod, for instance, revolutionized how consumers buy digital music. The iPhone has changed the way people use their cellphones in their daily life.

Companies large and small think Apple’s payments service could potentially have the same effect.

“Apple in particular has a reputation of harnessing and mobilizing an ecosystem,” said Denée Carrington, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Perhaps no company has more to lose from a new payment system than PayPal. Started in 1998 by a handful of entrepreneurs, PayPal quickly grew to become the dominant online payment company, widely recognized as a safe and easy way to send and receive money over the Internet.

In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion, and PayPal has continued to grow. It now has more than 150 million regular users, and last year, it had revenue of $6.6 billion.

“Everyone is gunning for PayPal,” Ms. Carrington said. “PayPal needs speed and flexibility to effectively defend and grow its business.”

Shortly after Apple unveiled its payment product in early September, PayPal took out a series of full-page print advertisements in several major newspapers, criticizing Apple for its perceived weaknesses in software security.

When a purchase is made, the iPhone wirelessly transmits a one-time code along with encrypted customer data, which the company says is more secure than swiping a traditional credit card.

“We the people want our money safer than our selfies,” the advertisement read, an apparent reference to a recent episode in which some celebrities had nude photographs stolen from their Apple online storage accounts.

Mr. Donahoe said multiple factors played into the decision to split eBay and PayPal, including the successful Wall Street debut of Alibaba, the huge Chinese e-commerce company. By being separate from eBay, Mr. Donahoe said, PayPal would have more agility, an attribute some analysts and tech insiders have said that PayPal has lacked for years.

“PayPal hasn’t innovated in the United States in a decade, and it shows,” said Keith Rabois, a partner at Khosla Ventures and a former PayPal executive. “You’ve seen the rise of companies like Braintree, Stripe and Square” — three fast-rising payment start-ups of the last few years — “and all of them happened right under PayPal’s nose.” PayPal bought Braintree last year.

And some people said PayPal, especially if standing alone, could benefit from Apple Pay’s introduction.

“For one, there is no equivalent yet of Apple Pay on Android devices,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird and Company, referring to devices that run Google’s operating system. Android smartphone users, he said, could flock to PayPal, which runs on both Apple and Google operating systems.

And other competitors to Apple — like Samsung or Microsoft, which manufacture millions of smartphones, or Alibaba, which has its own highly successful payment operation in China — could more heartily support PayPal in the future.

In an appearance on CNBC, Mr. Donahoe said: “The way technology’s evolving, the way mobile technology’s evolving, we think you’re going to continue to see profound changes in how consumers shop and how they pay.”


SHOTS FIRED: Samsung Just Tweeted A Brutal Jab At Apple’s Bendy iPhone 6 Plus

samsung2 Apple’s super-sized iPhone 6 Plus is having a hard time surviving skinny jeans. The company promised to replace any faulty models, but you knew “Bendghazi” couldn’t possibly end there. It was only a matter of time before Samsung tried to deliver a snarky knockout blow as their bitter rival wobbled.

This morning, they finally chimed in with a brilliantly concise tweet that doubled as a promotion for their GALAXY Note Edge, a “limited edition concept” with a curved edge that gives way to a slick side display. It burns. It burns so good.

Inside the building where Apple tortures the iPhone 6

This is where iPhones never want to go

By Josh Lowensohn, on September 25, 2014 06:20 pm

A few blocks away from Apple’s bustling campus in Cupertino is a rather nondescript building. Inside is absolutely the last place on earth you’d want to be if you were an iPhone. It’s here where Apple subjects its newest models to the kinds of things they might run into in the real world: drops, pressure, twisting, tapping. Basically all the things that could turn your shiny gadget into a small pile of metal and glass.

“We’ve designed the product to be incredibly reliable throughout all your real world use,” Phil Schiller told me. “And in designing that we then have to validate heavily, and see how does it live up to real world use, and what are the forces and pressures on it, and how do you measure and prove that you’ve delivered on a specification.”

In case you hadn’t guessed, Apple doesn’t often show this room to outsiders. The only reason I’m here today is because Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 6, bends. At least for some people. The real question up until now is just how many people that’s happening to, and whether that would happen during normal use in a human pocket.

Apple’s answer today, both in a statement and now in these testing facilities, is that the iPhone 6 is tough. It’s made with steel / titanium inserts designed to reinforce potential stress points, a special blend of aluminum Apple formulated itself, and ion-strengthened glass. But more important, Apple says, is that the iPhone 6 has been put through hundreds of tests, as well as tested in the pockets of thousands of Apple employees before consumers ever get their hands on it.

What’s the exact number of devices Apple went through before it was done? About 15,000, according to the company. “The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are the most tested,” Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, told us today. “As we add more and more features, we have to find out a way to break them before customers do.”

Some of the testing I saw today was what can be considered torture tests, but it also puts the phones through the regular stresses that they might undergo in the wild. That includes being sat on in pockets — and being bent. The idea is to give the phones a lifetime of testing, but without spending a lifetime doing it. Apple was mum on how much the new iPhones can actually take; it pointed only to 25 kilograms, the amount of weight it puts on top of the screen to test it for the bends. Next to a machine that does this thousands of times is a small set of weights: this isn’t actually the full amount of weight the phone can take Riccio says, just what it can handle while being capable of “bouncing back” to its original form. Even so, there are limits.

“The bottom line is that if you use enough force to bend an iPhone, or any phone, it’s going to deform,” Riccio says.

Along with that press test, there’s what’s known as a “sit test,” which simulates the stresses iPhones undergo while in pockets. And not just any pockets, either. There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface — at an angle.

One other test I was shown tested torsion, or when the phone is twisted (see the top image). Apple showed us an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with a MacBook Air that was being twisted from one end to the other. This will go on thousands of times, Riccio said, with the company keeping track for failure.

These are just a small portion of the facilities that Apple uses, Riccio says. The company does some here, but also at a much larger scale in China where its products go through some of the last steps before entering full-scale production.

The last time Apple let the media this deep into the fold was in 2010 for the iPhone 4. Shortly after its release, users discovered that gripping it tightly reduced the signal strength. After holding a press conference, Apple took a small group of press to visit the “black lab” where it tests its cell phone radios in anechoic chambers.

This time around, there are no free cases for people, or even a press conference. Apple’s just telling people with a phone that’s bent to take it into one of its stores to have it looked at.

“As we expected, it’s extremely rare to happen in real world use,” Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller told us. “In this case, as in many things, we tell customers that if you think something’s occurred that shouldn’t have with your device, go to AppleCare, go to The Genius Bar, and let them take a look at it. And we’ll see if your product is having an experience it shouldn’t have, and is covered under warranty.”

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Will Apple’s ‘iWatch’ Rattle Luxury Watchmakers?

Apple’s much-anticipated wearable device, which will reportedly debut this fall, may not pose a direct threat to luxury watchmakers. But it does signal opportunity.

Apple iWatch concept by Martin Hajek and Adam Banks | Source: http://www.martinhajek.com

NEW YORK, United States — Ben Clymer, editor of wristwatch news site Hodinkee, spends his days reviewing and reporting on high-end watches. His recent stories have featured Montblanc’s Villeret 1858 Vintage Pulsographe — an “under the radar” style featuring a chronograph complication that costs over $40,000 — and Rolex’s “Paul Newman” Daytona family of watches. But amidst the Audemars Piguets and Girard-Perregauxs, Clymer has begun to acknowledge the arrival of another wrist-worn contraption: the smartwatch.

In recent months, he’s even reviewed a couple of smartwatches, including the Swiss-made Withings Activité, which has embedded digital technology but is designed to look like a mechanical watch. “There is a peripheral interest in smartwatches amongst our readers, in that it’s something that goes on the wrist,” he said. “They are innately interested in anything that goes there.” But Clymer also believes that, so far, smartwatch makers have yet to design something compelling enough to really hold the attention of watch-lovers. “They’ve been pretty lackluster to be honest,” he said. “Everyone is waiting for the iWatch.”

Indeed, they are. According to numerous market reports, the highly secretive Apple is set to launch a wearable device for the wrist, often dubbed the ‘iWatch,’ which may arrive in stores as early as this fall. In moves thought to be linked to the new product launch, Apple is thought to have collected hours of feedback from watch industry insiders. It has evenrecruited executives from several fashion and luxury brands, including watchmaker Tag Heuer’s former vice president of sales, Patrick Pruniaux, who is thought to be working on the project.

So will the new device pose a threat to luxury watch makers?

Despite the fact that traditional watches (whose primary practical function is telling the time) have been rendered virtually pointless by the ubiquity of mobile phones with clocks, the watch market is still growing at every price point. Sales of watches reached $61.7 billion in 2013, up 9.6 percent from 2011, according to Euromonitor International. Low-priced watches generated $16.5 billion, up 6.4 percent, while mid-priced watches reached $20.9 billion, up 9 percent. High-end watches saw the biggest jump to $24.3 billion, up 12.4 percent from two years before. And while a lot of that growth comes from developing countries, particularly in Asia, many mature markets also saw an uptick. In the US, overall watch sales reached $8.3 billion, up 17.6 percent from $7 billion in 2011.

That said, some expect large parts of the market to be swallowed up by smart, Internet-enabled devices. “In 2020, we expect 60 percent of all watches sold in the world to be connected with the Internet,” said Pascal Koenig, managing director at Zurich-based Smartwatch Group, an independent research company. He predicts that $2.5 billion worth of smartwatches will be sold globally in 2014. “The term ‘smartwatch’ will be lost — customers are starting to expect that watches can do more than indicate time.” And while there are hundreds of smartwatches currently on the market, Apple’s product will be a game-changer. “Apple will integrate many of the functionalities that are already out there and make them simple and intuitive to use. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is,” he said. “Today’s smartwatches are cumbersome to use. Compared to Android Wear, Apple has the big advantage of a closed ecosystem. And the improved design will significantly increase the target segment from male tech-nerds to the broad consumer market.”

While this prospect is likely to affect the lower-end of the market, it may not significantly impact the market for luxury watches, which, like all luxury goods, derive their value less from their functional attributes than their ability to send social signals, indicating belonging within certain social tribes and differentiation from others. This is largely rooted in the relative inaccessibility of their pricing. And while Apple produces personal tech devices with luxury-like appeal, the Cupertino, California-based company’s ‘iWatch’ will most definitely not be priced like a luxury watch; watches made by luxury brands like Montblanc and Vacheron Constantin (both owned by Swiss luxury goods conglomerate Richemont) can hit the five, six and seven-figure mark. In contrast, Apple’s device is expected to be priced in the hundreds of dollars.

Indeed, according to a recent report by Mario Ortelli, senior research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, only one percent of watches produced by Richemont brands will overlap, in terms of pricing, with the iWatch market. Ortelli warned, however, that Swatch, which owns a number of high-end watchmakers as well as its famous lower-end namesake brand, could be exposed to revenue losses of as much as 3 percent if smartwatches capture 20 percent of the market.

Large luxury conglomerates like Richemont, Kering and LVMH should not ignore the iWatch, however, stressed Ortelli — and not just because Apple keeps poaching their executives. “It’s an opportunity,” he said. “I’m not sure if [the iWatch] will be a success. But if it is, it could get the younger generation used to wearing a watch.” What’s more, it’s highly possible that luxury customers could be interested in snapping up the iWatch in addition to their $40,000 Swiss-engineered timepieces. “It wouldn’t be surprising if watch collectors do buy the iWatch,” said Clymer. “It’s going to change things.”

Snow White, Steve Jobs and Apple’s Awakening as a Global Design Leader

By Hartmut Esslinger – September 10, 2013

In October 2013 frog founder Hartmut Esslinger will publish his new book Keep It Simple – The Early Design Years of Apple, an insider’s account of the origins of Apple’s iconic products and brand. “Keep It Simple” is the story of Steve Jobs’ quest in the early 1980s to bring a radically new design language to the historically desert-dry sensory experience of computer technology. This process started with the so-called “Snow White” project, a design competition won by frog. Eventually, Snow White would change the trajectory of the company’s future, and redefine the way we think about consumer electronics and technology today. We invite you to read an abridged chapter from Hartmut Esslinger’s new book.


The Snow White project briefing was thorough and well-written but I knew that the process and setup it proposed would prove inadequate to the task of meeting Steve Jobs’ goal of creating designs that were “the best in the world.” I was determined to help him achieve that goal.

It became very clear to me that we were competing for an opportunity to help Steve Jobs create much more than a visual design language. Apple needed a cutting-edge system that would enable Steve to translate his vision into marketable products, and frog was in the process of helping him build it. We were involved in a real revolution – one that would extend well beyond the changes our work would bring to Apple. The work we were doing both in our Black Forest studio in Germany and in that small office in Cupertino would go on to reshape the way design was seen throughout America and the world.

Setting Goals for Apple’s Design Language and Visual Brand DNA

In the most simple terms, a design language is a visual system made up of defining signature and shape elements, materials, colors, patterns and textures, which provides a line-up of products with a unique but consistent look and feel. A design language isn’t about a specific product or style; it’s about forming a visual brand DNA that expresses a company’s true potential, as well as the founders’ unique values and (hopefully) visionary goals.

For high-tech-industrial companies, any design language must be both special and simple, because the lifecycles of strategy, design, production, usage and recycling attached to these products are extremely long. And, because the products’ precious technology has to be enclosed in some form of housing, the design language expresses its semantics through the character of the product shapes and human/machine interface. Designers in this arena are faced with the challenge of synchronizing the lifecycles of the products with that of their design. Technology changes at a fast and furious pace, but human change is very slow. Through some very hard lessons, I’ve learned one key principle for dealing with this lack of synchronicity: technologies come and go, but brands have to live on. Put simply, culture always wins.

I saw the historic opportunity Apple offered in 1982: only three or four product lines and a dynamic startup with an ambitious, visionary founder who wanted design to carry Apple’s products to international prominence. But, I also saw Apple’s organization-wide lack of design and supply-chain savvy. Steve and I were looking to each other to fulfill our most pressing needs; together, we had to innovate a means for bringing the expression of “the invisible” to the realm of design. We wanted Apple’s design language to go beyond its products’ functional and aesthetic aspects; we also wanted it to express the new spirit of computers as “thinking machines,” by both rooting them in history and projecting them as extensions of the user’s psyche.

Moreover we wanted Apple’s design language to converge physical and virtual statements into a holistic experience, which posed challenges of incredible complexity. Steve’s passion for closed (versus open) systems was based on his understanding that such complex functionality can be humanized only by controlling all aspects of technology, including hardware, software and content.

As a result of that passion, I believe it’s accurate to say that we set a benchmark for human-driven, high-touch design for the entire digital consumer industry. I take some personal pride in the fact, that when Steve returned to Apple in 1997, Jonathan Ive—Steve’s choice for Executive Vice President of Industrial Design—picked up where we had left the company’s design language in 1985 and continued the basic “Keep it Simple” rule that Steve and I had established. The process of formulating and following that goal involved multiple phases, a lot of frustration, but—ultimately—many victories.

Phase One: Developing Options

Each design project starts with research to discover what’s out there, and to explore the possibilities of what could be out there, but isn’t. When we launched the Snow White project, my intuition told me that the possibilities for improving the design and manufacture of personal computers were almost limitless. At the time, computers offered little in the way of design capabilities, but the technology was advancing rapidly.  Computer performance was growing, physical sizes were shrinking, and—thanks to “professional” pricing vs. “consumer” pricing —the industry’s profit margins were still healthy. Personal computers were in their infancy, and Apple had an edge in that arena with its use of Xerox Parc’s bit map user interface that would appeal to everybody.

At the time, most of Apple’s products were primitive in their mechanical design, and their manufacturing costs were absurd: the Apple IIe’s housing alone cost more than $100 net, and the Apple III’s cost even more. I knew we could do better in both quality and cost. By leveraging the advanced production methods of electronics in Germany or Japan, I projected that Apple could lower its housing costs by 70 to 80 percent. So we decided to use the same technically radical design approach for Apple’s products that we used for Sony’s. In fact, we could make the designs even better and more ecologically sound by avoiding metallic paint, which had become the standard for consumer electronic products.

Essentially, we had to create a new paradigm for computers as the first mass-produced, industrial form of artificial intelligence. As I explored ideas for designing the “face” of this new product paradigm, I looked at history, in particular Native American mythology, because I thought that Apple’s design should be rooted in the West Coast’s past. I discovered the geometric sand paintings of the Navajo, and then the art of the Aztecs, whose anthropomorphic reliefs often resembled astronauts. Those images inspired us to design Apple’s computers to look like little people, and to transform the display screen into a face. We were taking our first steps forward.

After talking to Steve and other executives at Apple, frog identified three concepts that we would explore for further development. One of these three would represent frog in the Snow White competition.

  • Concept 1 reflected “what Sony would do if it built computers.” I didn’t really like this me-too idea, but in 1982 Sony set the standard for producing high-tech consumer products that were smarter, smaller, and more portable, and Steve felt that their cool, sleek design language offered a good benchmark. One interesting feature we developed while working on Concept 1 was the modularity of cabinet elements, which enabled identical housing parts to be used on multiple products. This feature made the tools for the injection molding process more economical, but it also required longer assembly times, which raised production costs.
  • Concept 2 was to express “Americana” by reconnecting high-tech design with classical American design statements, from (naturally) the Coke bottle to Raymond Loewy’s streamlined designs for office products and Studebaker and the Electrolux line of household appliances. This concept was most in-line with Apple’s thinking back then, but the asymmetrical monitor and otherwise somehow stylish shapes that we developed for this concept would have aged too quickly. At the beginning, though, this design was the most popular within Apple’s team.
  • Concept 3 was left to me. It had to be as radical as possible—and that was a cool challenge.

The breakthrough moment in the development of Concept 3 actually came to me one day when Steve Jobs called to check in on my progress. I hadn’t been making much progress on the concept and so, having no idea what to say, I scribbled some designs on paper while Steve talked. Suddenly, I thought about “lines”—lines of printed text, lines of code, always of equal length—that could be used like a grid. The lines created a geometric form, so I sketched a Mac with an integrated monitor in the shape of a “T”, with the upper bar being the front of the monitor. I completed the sketch within seconds, and when I described it to Steve, he said “great! I want to see it.” Glancing at my rough sketch, which was all I had to show for Concept 3 at the moment, I asked when he would be coming back, feeling very grateful for the distance that separated my Black Forest studio and Steve’s California offices. That feeling vanished when Steve replied: “I just checked the flight schedule here in London, and I can be in Stuttgart later this afternoon…why don’t you pick me up.” Now, I had a problem.

I made some quick technical drawings based upon a modified layout of the computer and monitor; the lines and stepped slabs actually worked really well on paper. With our model-makers hard at work on a couple of quick foam models in three variations, I set out on the hour-long drive to the Stuttgart Airport. When I returned with Steve on his first visit to the frog studio in Altensteig, our model-makers had worked a miracle: three nicely shaped and painted models were on the table, along with some rough-cut sketch models they had used to test the variations (I had left them measurements for the variations, but no drawings). Steve loved the models. Then he looked around our model shop and right away insisted that I bring the same set-up to California, near Apple headquarters.

We’d done it. Steve was excited and, with his input, we obviously had a direction worth pursuing. As a nice side effect, the stepped slots in the line-based design for Concept 3 enabled us to reduce the wall thickness of the case by nearly 40% and place well-hidden ventilation openings in any location where they were needed. Ventilation had been the focus of many of our discussions with Apple’s engineers, because the hardware would generate heat in so many places. Steve was so happy with the lines-and-slates approach, that he insisted we also apply the design to a new Macintosh (a decision later dropped due to internal opposition). While some might rightfully point out that a few hours of frantic work under stress cannot be called “strategic,” I contend that the stress of that day brought weeks of work into a clear focus, and our process remains a great example of the genesis of a creative design strategy.

I was happy that we could continue developing our best design idea. Concepts 1 and 2 had been well–founded, proven design statements, but Concept 3 was our ticket for a voyage toward a mysterious destination. It also would become the DNA for the Snow White design strategy and visual language.

Phase 2: Defining Concepts and Strategy

We shipped the first set of models to California, and after discussions with all of Apple’s teams, we agreed that Concept 3—lines, slates, no angles (except for transitions), and white (or as nearly white as possible)—was the way to go. The next phase was about getting feedback and input from Apple’s key people. Steve wanted us to look years ahead in our design process, so it was important that we hear as many ideas as possible, no matter how crazy or off-the-wall they might seem. Programmers like Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson spoke about software almost poetically, though their screens showed only lines of abstract looking code—the very lines that had supplied one of the initial inspirations for Concept 3.

I was also inspired by Bill’s prediction that the computer’s bulky, physical technology of monitors and CPU boxes would eventually give way to elegant “slates” or “pads.” Almost twenty years later Apple would introduce these innovations in form with its iPhone and iPad.

The visual DNA for Concept 3 was a good start. But, after I’d had multiple discussions about the technology and possible trends with Apple’s managers and engineers, Bill Atkinson challenged me to take my designs further. He encouraged me to focus more on projections for future developments, such as flat screens, touch interfaces and devices that merged telephones with computers. Back in Germany, frog went to work again, responding to this challenge with

conceptualizations of a wireless-mobile flip-phone, a touch pad computer—labeled Mac Slate—and a laptop computer that had a large screen the same width as a standard QUERTY keyboard and a touch interface—a design we labeled the “Mac Book”

Once again, we went to California loaded down with models, sketches and presentation materials. When Steve presented the Mac Book model to the Mac team as “the next Macintosh we will build,” a product he assured them was created just for journalists, they gasped in disbelief. But, I knew this work was extremely important. After more than a decade in electronic design, I had seen many technologies and tech companies come and go, and I was sure that Steve was moving Apple in a necessary direction—toward a design strategy that went beyond computer boxes, keyboards, mice, and monitors—that would bring the company success, not just survival. Steve loved the progress we were making although I had gone too far for some of Apple’s designers and their engineering bosses.

Phase 3: Final Design

Now we went into the final stage of the competition. We created a complete list of the product lines that would carry the Snow White design language by adding product categories such as connectors, ergonomic workstations with integrated phones, and innovations for portable computers and touch-tablets. Once again, we fine-tuned the designs and built myriads of foam models that were perfectly accurate in both scale and appearance. After shooting photos of our work, we packed up all of the materials for our final presentation to Steve and Apple’s board of directors. We put our logistics in place, also making sure that no glue, paint or filler would bubble or dissolve in the belly of a cargo airplane, and that we had an extra window of time for our materials to pass through customs. The models still arrived at Apple just two days before the Board meeting in March.

Our final presentation consisted of more than 40 hard models, a slick, professionally photographed slide presentation, and full-scale technical drawings. To showcase the presentation, we turned a room at Apple’s Mariani Building into a show room; even by today’s high standards, it was one of the best presentations I can remember. Steve was really excited and so was Apple’s Board. An hour later, we learned that we had won the competition. Although I had never doubted the outcome, it was a very exciting moment.

To make our success complete, Steve and I negotiated a sound process for implementing the Snow White design language. We agreed that frog would provide full design services under his direct report, and that Apple’s designers would be integrated into one group, reporting directly to me. We also defined design’s relationships with Apple’s engineering and marketing teams as collaborations. We knew these fundamental changes would provoke some resistance within the company, but Steve and I agreed that we had to move forward with them. I also created an economic plan for the work ahead. Steve stood by his word: Apple awarded frog an annual $2 million contract (close to $5 million in 2013 dollars) and put us in charge of all designs at the company. Even though, legally, I remained a consultant, I was named Corporate Manager of Design. Now, the real work would begin.

Steve Jobs had acquired a new look and direction for his company, but he had also advanced his understanding of his products and their effects in the marketplace. He had embraced a new way of design management and the new concept of simple, additive shapes, standing boldly in white, with no added color. For Steve, everything was black or white. That kind of direct, take no-prisoners mentality, combined with his unique ability to listen to new ideas and eventually change direction when confronted with a better way, made him an ideal partner for progress.

With our guidelines in place, we were ready to begin our work at Apple. Snow White had been kissed awake—not by a prince but by a frog.


Original Sketches, made during meetings with Steve Jobs

Original Sketch, made during meetings with Steve Jobs

Original Sketch, made during meetings with Steve Jobs

Original meeting notes, made during meetings with Steve Jobs

Original meeting notes, made during meetings with Steve Jobs

Apple FlipPhone 1984

Apple FlipPhone 1984

Apple Minimal Phone 1984

Apple Minimal Phone 1984

Apple Wrist & Ear Phone 1985

Apple Wrist & Ear Phone 1985

Apple //c Studies 1983-84

Apple //c Studies 1983-84

MacSlate Touchscreen 1984-85

MacSlate Touchscreen 1984-85

MacSlate Touchscreen 1984-85

MacSlate Touchscreen 1984-85