This is what I wrote while watching the iPhone 5 announcement. I was anticipating negative reactions:
All growth increases complexity. This is true for organisms and organizations. And products. The bigger something gets, the more complex it becomes. Take Microsoft Word (…please).
What Apple does is so rare that it seems “magical”. Or absurd. They resist complexity, even as they become the biggest thing ever. In fact, they move the other direction. They stick with designs, they kill products and features, they work very hard to make their beautiful, intuitive products even more beautiful and intuitive. They can now put everything they make on a single table.
Maybe the reason they don’t change their designs much is because they really liked them to begin with. Maybe they have confidence in their products because they spent a staggering, unequalled amount of time creating them. For example, we know that Apple originally went with the 3.5″ screen not by accident, or “just because”, or in an arbitrary response to the size of another phone, but because they tested and tested every possible size and ratio, secretly, in house.
“Design is about making decisions.”
Apple not only makes different products than anyone else, they operate different than anyone else. No one, in any industry, has as much discipline as Apple. They have clear, mostly-secret principles (eg: Apple University) that govern their action. One can look at any aspect of Apple (finances, products, advertising, packaging, that all product announcements come with shipping dates and prices) for evidence of their comprehensive discipline.
Not everyone can (or wants to) see the heart—the discipline of principles—that these externals reveal. That’s OK. Apple doesn’t care if you don’t understand how and why they function. Indeed, Apple University is completely secret. Apple keeps doing their highly-refined and intentional thing, and you get to do yours.
Like whatcha like.
(Although, a nerd not liking Apple is like a basketball fan hating on Bill Russell. It happens; it just doesn’t make sense.)