Despite Apple’s recent Bendgate scandal, the brand isn’t being impeached anytime soon. They’ll lose a few votes for the moment, but in the end they’ll maintain the same monarchical dominance they’ve enjoyed for the past two decades.
Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, they’ve earned this brand loyalty through consistent innovation, establishing themselves as the standard against which all laptops and smart phones and tablets are judged. This is only a blip on the Apple radar, the frequency of which will continue to broadcast Walt Whitman messages of San Francisco’s Different Thinking around the world. How do we know? Because Bendgate isn’t their first product design scandal.
In his brief time as Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller stated in an interview that Apple doesn’t rely on conventional market research to create its products. This unfettered process of geeky ingenuity, which isn’t compromised by the pedestrian reactions of consumers who are too behind the curve to realize what they even want, has clearly paid off, however it has also led to a few seemingly obvious mistakes in product development along the way.
Exhibit A: The Samurai Laptop
If you don’t have a sharp knife in the house, but you have a 2013 Macbook Pro, simply open the laptop and slice your tomato or carve your turkey, with one of the edges of the base of your $2,000 machine. It’s sharp, really sharp. I know because I have one, the edge of which was so uncomfortable when my wrists leaned against it that I filed it down, just like this guy:
While Apple never offered a public response to this issue that I’m aware of, they were happy to explain, in their online forums, that there was actually no problem with the ergonomic design at all, and if you simply observed proper typing posture, your wrists should never touch the edge to begin with.
Exhibit B: The iPod Concert
In addition to being doomed from a marketing perspective, the iPod Hi-Fi was poorly designed. The iPod sat precariously atop its giant machine in a way that made it very susceptible to falling and damage, and the remote for the device could only control a few of the iPods basic functions.
Exhibit C: The Righty-Only iPhone
The iPhone 4’s industrial design was by all accounts a homerun. However, roughly ten percent of the people who purchased it – those who were left-handed – felt like they were left on the sidelines. Because Apple built the antennae into the metal rim of the phone, when it was held in a certain position, usually by lefties, reception dropped significantly. Additionally, the beautiful glass that covered the front and the back of the phone wasn’t quite fall-proof, and the dreams of many Apple devotees were quickly shattered.
Everyone remembers that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, however, few of us immediately recall that it took him a thousand attempts to do so. While Apple hasn’t suffered anything close to 1,000 public failures, there have been more than the three listed above, and there will surely be more in the future.
In a few years, though, the Bendate scandal will be history – it’ll be the last thing on the minds of those waiting in line for the iPhone 9, just as the cracked screens of the iPhone 4 were the furthest thing from the minds of those who recently waited for hours to purchase the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.