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Jony Ive Apple iPhone sketch designs

Brown’s Bytes – So Long And Thanks For All The… Apples!

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

28th June 2019

I felt this week that it was absolutely necessary to touch on the news that Sir Jony Ive is leaving Apple.

Events like this will always be a cause for reflection on the work done. In Sir Jonathan’s case, I felt that his legacy was worthy of discussion. So, my thoughts on a few of Jony Ive’s milestone designs, and why it mattered for the Enterprise.

The iMac

In the late 1990s, the computer market was very grey/beige and boxy. At that time, Apple also made beige boxes and were increasingly irrelevant in the market. Consumers didn’t buy Macs – they bought PCs. Much has been made of how Steve Jobs turned it around, but it was specifically the design of the iMac that changed everything.

Underneath it wasn’t particularly revolutionary, but the way it was designed and marketed changed consumer computing. Suddenly, there was a computer that was fully integrated and attractive – it actually looked good in your living room. 

People wanted one. It was a consumer hit and laid the foundations for Apple’s future success – Consumer-focused technology.

iMac - Jony Ive design
Apple's first iPod - Jony Ive
The iPod

The device that laid the groundwork for what comes later in many ways. Underneath the skin, the first-generation iPod wasn’t particularly innovative. Portable MP3 players already existed, but let’s face it, they were for geeks.  Mainstream consumers were still using MiniDisc or Portable CD players at this point. The genius was again to make the product good-looking and simple to use. The lack of buttons compared to traditional electronics design was immediately notable.

And again – it was desirable… more than that – it was cool! Another consumer hit.

Crucially it moved the Apple brand away from being a computer company. They now made cool mobile devices.

The iPhone

The fact that we now moan about every phone today looking like the same rectangular glass slab is down to the fact that this device nailed it, first time.

It is now hard to believe just how much the Enterprise market let out a collective shrug at it. We all had our BlackBerry devices – the iPhone was seen as an overpriced irrelevance.

But the design of both the hardware and the touch interface were basically perfect first time. Pretty much everything done since in smartphone land is arguably an iteration from this genesis moment. I firmly believe that if you had access to a time machine, you could give any modern smartphone to a 2007 iPhone user and they would be able to instinctively pick it up and drive it. That’s how much they nailed the design. 

iPhone 1

But there was something else that the Enterprise market missed. This really was a cool phone! iPhone owners loved their devices… they felt they had seen the future – on reflection you can now say that was because they had!

Noise started building in the Enterprise to make these devices work….

Apple's iPad 1
The iPad

At the time the iPad was announced, I remember stating that it was just a giant iPod Touch. What was the point??

And then I got my hands on the first-gen device (imported, because the UK got them late). I didn’t put it down… the ability to sit on the sofa browsing the web and reading the news was simply brilliant. The more you looked, the more it could do.

Consumers started buying them instead of computers.

And now the demands to make them work in the Enterprise reached a tipping point. There was no option – senior leaders insisted on it.

By focusing on making devices that were desirable and simple to use, Consumers flocked, and the Enterprise had to follow…

Cue Mobliciti – we’ve partially built our business on helping Enterprises securely adopt Apple technology.

So, a massive thank you Sir Jony Ive.

Next week we’ll focus on iOS13 and how this is probably the most “Enterprise” iOS release yet.