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dxavier's avatar

Apple makes more beautiful computers, why?

Asked by dxavier (35points) May 18th, 2013
28 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

I’m researching the emotional connection between good design, user interaction. If a more attractive design creates a better user experience, what the benefits of this are, and what it is that makes a user react positively to a design.

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JLeslie's avatar

My guess is a certain percentage of the population likes to look at pretty things. Whether it be people, computers, house decor, mountains, you name it. Pretty has value. I think it is notnjust abut the interaction, but wanting to possess the pretty thing. The more elite looking thing. With apple it is also the branding, somewhat of a cultlike following. People will wait in line for the launch of a new product, I think that is ridiculous. They also will pay what I consider to be overpriced for the product. They give all their bargaining power away as a consumer by being obsessed with banging down the doors to get the new thing.

Sunny2's avatar

There’s no reason that utilitarian objects can’t be created with good design in mind. Apple successfully takes that into consideration.

pleiades's avatar

Apple simply unspammed their computers with 3rd party logos, subtracted the sharp edges to cut the “bulk” of a laptop and ordinary computer screen. The result is a sleek, gracious, modern look and feel.

Add slight curves to almost anything and we can’t help but feel the “elegance” of what we’re seeing.

Blackberry's avatar

Apple is for the common person that doesn’t know much about computers. It’s an idiot proof UI.

Buttonstc's avatar



I’m in the middle of reading Jobs biography and there are some fascinating aspects of his unique persona discussed in more depth.

A lot can be attributed to the fact that after Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College, he stuck around and was free to audit classes in things that really interested him as opposed to required courses.

One of those was a Calligraphy class which he realized later influenced him tremendously in thinking about technology from an artistic point of view as well as the scientific.

He made reference to this in a much quoted commencement speech he gave at Stanford.

This Calligraphy course immersed him in an entire design ethos with deep and long roots throughout the history of numerous ancient cultures.

It’s a fascinating little side note which explains a lot about everything from proportional fonts to rounded edges.

It’s also interesting to remember back to the days at Apple following his departure. Under the leadership of Scully, et al, Macs were just like most other beige boxes of that era, basically rather unremarkable.

Then Jobs returns and then came the “fruit colored” iMacs with their distinctive build as well as color, followed shortly by the iPod and eventually iPhone. There was nothing else like them on the market.

“Think different” indeed

Buttonstc's avatar


Regarding overpriced: due to the willingness of carriers to heavily subsidize the cost of all phones, this has eliminated the price differential for the iPhone.

It’s priced the same as other smartphones with similar capability ($100–200).

If only the Apple fanboys had been purchasing them, that would hardly account for the huge success.

So, in this case at least, the Apple product costs no more than others.

jerv's avatar

$20 says I get flamed for being honest…

They do? Since when?

Now, it depends on what you consider “beautiful”, but I buy things to perform a function. I don’t entirely disregard looks (which is why I prefer the old Nook Color over the newer Nook HD, and both of them over the mini iPad) but I do not value eye candy enough to give up function.

Those who need less functionality can bear a more Minimalist design, but people like me value things that let me accomplish my tasks efficiently, and if we look good while doing it, that is merely a bonus. Sure, be as pretty as you want, but the instance you frustrate me by lack of functionality, you lost my repeat business.

What makes a better user experience is not just form or function, but how well you do both. Apple succeeds in the consumer market because many people require minimal functionality and are willing to give even that up for the sake of form. If that weren’t true, then explain the existence of high heeled shoes!. Linux succeeds in other markets that require performance (supercomputers), reliability (ISP servers and other mission-critical systems), and/or security (many government systems) because, like me, they value eye candy less and the quality of their user experience is based on functionality.

@Blackberry Entirely correct, and exactly why I stopped using Apple over 20 years ago (back in the System 7 days).

@Sunny2 Commercial success and successfully merging form and function are two different things. Of course, that also depends on which market you are after and what they consider “beautiful” or “functional”.
While some prefer the sleek lines of the all-in-one iMac, I prefer the beautiful graphics and high framerates of a full-on desktop GPU (as opposed to a laptop GPU that most iMacs have) as what is displayed on the screen is more beautiful that it would be at lower resolutions and/or framerates.

@Buttonstc Yes, the iPhone is cost-competitive, and the Mac Pro is as well. It’s the iMacs and Macbooks that tend to be accused of being overpriced.

filmfann's avatar

Another reason: Apple kept 3rd parties from producing product for their computers. This kept everything in house, and bug free. You didn’t need to worry about conflicts between software.

XOIIO's avatar

What @Blackberry said. apple makes computers for the simple, less computer smart part of the population, focusing on looks and making things easy to look at and easy to find. The downside to this is that the computers are pretty closed up, upgrading them is limited, and they aren’t as goof for business, or very intensive programs.

Windows is for two types of people, the somewhat computer savvy, it is more suited to business applications, and very intensive things like 3d modeling and rendering, as well as high quality video rendering.

Windows is also much better for gaming, because you can constantly upgrade a windows machine, almost regardless of the original manufacturer, and due to this and being able to put whatever you like you will never get near the gaming/graphics quality and performance on an apple machine that you can on windows.

Windows is also good for the programmer/general hacker/tweaker, since you can modify a crapload of stuff relating to the OS and program other applications to be very connected to it’s processes.

Linux is for either the person that doesn’t want to spend money on an OS, or more likely the people that like to be able to modify or rebuild the OS from the ground up, you don’t get as much game support as you do even on apple PCs, drivers for high performance video cards are sometimes non-existent, and it has a simpler UI. Basically it’s stripped down windows, but with entirely different programming. It makes your machine much more customizable, but stick an average user on a Linux machine and they are lost.

jerv's avatar

@XOIIO And that is how attractive design can detract from user experience. Sure, that slimline case unblemished by screws, vents, and access panels may look pretty, but systems that underperform, overheat, or lack the ability to be repaired/upgraded inexpensively and, preferably, by the end-user can be so frustrating that the product will earn bad reviews from some.
Since gamers, graphics designers, and businesses make up a non-trivial portion of the computer market, that means that there are more than a few people who have strong negative reactions to Apple’s “superior” design; the “beauty” will lead to a bad user experience for enough people that pretty much every design decision has to keep in mind that it will likely lose a certain portion of the market, and hope that more people love it than hate it.

BTW, Linux can be pretty. How is this Linux UI? Or this one?

XOIIO's avatar

@jerv lol someone made one look like mac, heh

It’s not all linux Oses that look bad, but I’m speaking generally, like from a fresh install, quite often linux is at the bottom of the pack but it can look good too.

And yes, I agree, many people do have a bad attitude to apple, I have a bit of one but only because a lot of people that argue that apple is the best are ignorant, at least the ones I’ve ran into. The argument made most often is that they are safe from viruses, that is true-ish, some more are are being made for apple pcs, but really they don’t interest the people who are making them, they don’t have the market and aren’t used for business like windows is, so there is less chance of them getting info like bank accounts or credit cards.

Another thing is that since people assume apple is virus free they don’t use an antivirus, which makes them perfect carriers.

jerv's avatar

@XOIIO…which reinforces my point about about “attractive” being highly subjective, and what many people consider “attractive design” can cause others to have a bad user experience.

johnpowell's avatar

Yes, only idiots use Macs. We know nothing about computers. It couldn’t be because I spend most of my day using SSH to log into servers and OS X has a real command line. No need for Putty!. Ruby and Python and Apache out of the box!

But I am fucking stupid.

Oh, I can write iOS apps in a relatively decent IDE that is free.. GCC, we have that too. Homebrew, I think we only have that.

But I am fucking stupid.

Oh, and we have Photoshop.. Really GIMP does suck. And while not great for games we do have them. A lot more then Linux. And we also have Office.

The the OS is pretty top notch. I’m not really sure why you would want complicated and consider that something to brag about.

Oh, the Apple tax. Comparable computers in the Windows world (Ultrabooks) cost just about the same. Sure, you can’t get a POS 400 dollar Apple laptop. They don’t want to make them or support them.

Don’t forget about support. A friend of mine bought a Lenevo/Toshiba (I forget which) about 8 months ago. It started randomly shutting down and the optical drive would randomly slide open. The charged her 25 bucks for a box that was mailed to her house so she could send it back to them in the box.

I sent my iPod in for repair to Apple. On their website I filled out a form and they gave me a number and fedex place closest to my house to drop it off. They said to not box it up. I went in and gave them the number And they boxed it up for me and sent it off. I got it back in three days.

And XOIIO, if Macs are so easy why are you so consistently wrong when answering questions about them?

XOIIO's avatar

@johnpowell Ah yes, because one person represents the generic user base.

And really, how often do I answer questions about apple computers? All I do is try and offer insight, because perhaps that will help. I don’t provide exact solutions because I don’t use apple computers.

Oh yeah by the way, for the amount you spend on an apple computer you can get a windows/linux machine that is orders of magnitude better, and if something breaks you don’t need to pay for their custom made overpriced parts.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc We just have been looking at new cell phones and we were quotes $700 for the new Iphone if I remember correctly.

ragingloli's avatar

Style over substance.

Crumpet's avatar

The fact that my MacBook looks good comes as an added bonus for me.
I bought it because I use my laptop for editing and organising photos, a bit of graphic design, email, surfing the web, and watching media on.
It is the perfect laptop for all of the above.
It’s simple and uncluttered, is made of good quality materials, has a great screen and works fast.

A lot of people are attracted to those qualities, and I am one of them.

If I was a gamer and into programming and things like that, I would probably use a windows machine.
But I prefer things simpler, and easy.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc “No need for Putty!. Ruby and Python and Apache out of the box!”
That is why you see more servers running Linux than OS X. Some people consider including those things by default to be “good design”. Others consider the ability to customize endlessly to be better design than something more restrictive. At the end of the day, “good design” depends on the needs of the user, and since those needs vary, so too will opinions on what is considered “good design”.
The “Apple tax” may be for their undeniably excellent customer service, but Apple is merely average in reliability. (Last I checked, Asus and Toshiba ranked higher in reliability.) There are some that would rather have a computer that doesn’t need support than one that comes with great support that is needed more often. Again, it’s all about what the user wants.
You aren’t stupid; you just have very different wants/needs than @XOIIO and I.

Pachy's avatar

Minimalism, the hallmark of Apple products thanks to Steve Jobs, is a beautiful thing.

WMFlight's avatar

I do like pleasing colours and for computers to be tactile. I love anything with gel and love touching my gel screen. Childish I know. At the end though I would rather it be powerful for the cash I can afford even if it looks like a brick. After all you look at a computer’s screen not at its casing that much.
The laptop I have at the moment is just plain, satin black but its very good at it’s job so I’m a happy bunny.

Buttonstc's avatar


I think you missed the main point of what I said about subsidies.

There are relatively few people who just up and buy an unlocked iPhone for full retail price. Your situation is definitely not typical for most consumers.

The vast MAJORITY of people let the phone carriers do the heavy lifting and get it through them.

As a matter of fact, I recently researched buying my iPhone at retail so I could choose any carrier I wished.

Interestingly enough, doing so really wouldn’t save me any money. The two year contract really wasn’t that onerous, all things considered, after running the numbers.

But, if you really want to pay full retail for an iPhone (or any other brand) I’m sure they’ll be happy to sell it to you :)

Buttonstc's avatar


I’m fairly certain that your last post was not addressed to me :)

I’m assuming you just clicked on the wrong name and its too late to edit.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc What I leanred recently, unless I am being duped, is the two year contracts basically pay off the phones. We heard the schpiel from T-mobile the other day, and their deal is they have no contract, but you agree to in the end pay for the phone. They only require a partial payment down if you have great credit and then pay the phone over time on your monthly service payments, but at the end of 2 years if your phone is still good and you just want to keep it, your monthly service charge drops because you have paid off the phone, but with a carrier like Sprint, even if you still have your old phone for more than 2 years the monthly charge stays the same. Although, I think the penalty for cancelling mid contract with Sprint is only $150 (only, what a laugh) so I guess if you cancel early in the contract maybe Sprint loses? I currently have Sprint, I have for over 15 years, but am considering changing.

Still, the obsession with Apple that people will pay much higher prices, wait on line, and can only use accessories made by apple half the time is annoying. I have an ipad, I like it, but it has somemof the same frustrations I had when I was forced to use and apple computer years ago at a job. Like no delete capabilities, just backspace.

pleiades's avatar

I switched from Windows to Mac and I haven’t looked back ever since. I have several other friends who have done this. I have several friends who use Mac OS X on their PC’s. People try to hate on Apple but the truth is they make extremely simple and functional software, and you can get help from Apple directly. Yup that’s right, no waiting on a telephone line in India trying to fix your third party piece of junk Acer Laptop or get waived off in the Philippines when you’re trying to figure out why your stolen access code/key isn’t working for your latest update on Micro Soft Word that was illegally downloaded (I know how you PC people work, you steal all programs, anime shows, etc off the internet via torrents, or direct dl don’t you :P)

When you buy a Mac, you’re buying into a company that is support friendly and dedicates a huge amount of time into updating it’s OS. I remember being on PC and crashing at least once every other day. Since I’ve bought a MacBook then MacBook Pro 7 years ago I can honestly say I’ve crashed at a maximum maybe 20 times? (And these are freezeups from running StarCraft on like 4gb RAM)

Also the OS depends on what you want to do with your computer. I deal a lot with video editing, photo manipulation, and audio engineering. For video I use a mixture of iMovie (Apple) and Final Cut Pro X (Also Apple, very smooth interface and readable) For photo manipulation I use the Creative Suit (Also available on PC) for audio engineering and recording I use GarageBand (Apple) and Logic Pro (Apple). I’ve used Fruity Loops on Windows and it pretty much has the best drum machine in it’s DAW ever! [Apple has yet to make anything remotely “good” when it comes to drum machine]

You gotta remember Apple buys out a lot of software to call their own. But, just like Genghis Khan kept the sacred scripts from his enemies, Apple, keeps key engineers from former companies to spear head the conversion from post software to Apple.

Parts wise, PC is cheaper, but remember that saying you get what you pay for, and you’ll be updating your parts every so often if not properly taken care of (same goes for Apple users)

Also I second @crumpets

Going back to Apple support, here are some notes I took while having my first experience at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.

Everyone was friendly. They were even friendly to the sob mothers bringing in their kids MacBooks from 2006 trying to get some parts replaced. They even replaced a dudes charger/adapter even though warranty was expired, no questions asked. They even told the guy, it’s no longer under warranty. I, like a dumbass erased my whole HD because my RAM was shot (3rd party unsuggested RAM!) they tested my HD for me, which I knew worked because I could drag items in and out of it but my RAM was shot so I had to replace them, then I went back the next day and they re-installed the software and lost programs.

While there I heard a girl say she lost her “Pages” app (the equivalent to Word) and they just reinstalled it for her. And its quite obvious if someone hasnt actually purchased the app because every app is documented through App Store nowadays but you can still claim, “No, I paid a friend of mine to install his left over CD Key onto my machine” while that still lasts.

It’s just a convenience to get some physical help and not be sent to a phone number or website run in India from some third party product.

jerv's avatar

@pleiades My Apple experience has differed greatly from yours; it seems that I ask questions that either they cannot answer, or run into an inherent limitation of their OS/hardware. I’ve never needed support for PC hardware, and Linux has better support than you’d think, even if it’s more Bohemian than corporate. Why pay for something I either don’t need or can get legally for free? Of course, if you’re of the mindset that either PC=Windows or that Linux is junk, then I can see how you’d have different opinions on Apple than I do. As for Windows, I think I’ve crashed about as often as you have; maybe I’m just lucky.

Buttonstc's avatar


Maybe you’re just lucky? Ha ha. Don’t be so modest. You’re just flat out damn good with computers and tech stuff in general.

But some of the rest of us don’t have the mad skills that you do and having a company with well trained and competent FREE tech support in English both on phone and in-store is priceless.

I’m not surprised when you say that Apple didn’t meet your needs and you don’t like being hampered by their limitations. That makes perfect sense for someone who really knows what they’re doing at even advanced levels.

But after experiencing two different Android tablets I can honestly say that there just isn’t a whole lot of stuff I could do on either that I can’t get done on my iPhone (with the one notable exception of Flash videos) so I don’t feel hampered by it at all.

And trying to deal with that Acer Iconia tab was a thoroughly miserable and frustrating experience (plus no helpful tech support that was worth a damn). The Galaxy tab I switched to is a lot better in that regard since Samsung apparently does have a USA based phone support center.

But I really don’t need to spend every waking moment customizing Android to the nth degree with every bell and whistle known to mankind. There are usually several free apps available for whatever needs I may have in that regard.

Overall, I’m still glad that I opted for an Android tablet rather than iPad. But if I could only have one, it would be an iPhone or iPad. For my needs, Android really doesn’t offer much for me that IOS doesn’t.

But if I were a tech genius like you, I might feel differently. And I’m sure that if I had the time and the will to devote to it I could be much more comp. competent but since there’s a company who designs their systems with simpletons like me in mind, it seems pretty foolish not to take advantage of it.

And since an Android or an iPhone end up costing me the same $2–300 (depending upon model) anyway, it just strikes me as ridiculous to not get the simplest and most reliable option (iPhone) FOR ME.

Obviously your needs are different.

And I keep reading all these complaints about defective Android phones from various companies (even Samsung) which gets pretty expensive and everybody neglects to mention.

My 4 yr. old iPhone 3G (soon to go on Craigslist) is still going strong, never had a problem with it.

But, I sure as hell didn’t stand on a stupid line the first day it was available either. That’s just nuts ! Yes, I like Apple products, but I’m not insane :)

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc Differing needs are not insanity, nor is needing tech support a sign of stupidity. Insisting that Apple or Android is best for everybody and elevating your OS of choice to a level beyond religion though….

I’ve read more than my fair share of defective iPhone stories, and had enough issues with various pieces of Apple hardware to consider quality and reliability a tie, at least for reputable non-Apple manufacturers (Samsung, Motorola, Toshiba…). And I still have a hard time trusting iOS after it crashed more times in the average week than my Droid X, Nook Color (with CyanogenMod), and Razr HD combined have in 3 years. If you have had better luck with Apple than I have, and/or value their customer service, it’s your money; buy what makes you happy.

Oddly my wife (a very non-techy person) found iOS to be more confusing than Android, and whenever I redo our computer to test whether Linux distro caught my eye any particular week, she’s been able to adjust within minutes despite not knowing sound chip from a potato chip, so I don’t think it’s a matter of uber-l33+ skills. My thoughts are that if she can handle Android and Linux just fine, they really cannot be all that difficult for the average person who has not spent >30 years in computing.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@johnpowell I agree that PuTTY is crap. When forced to use Windows I generally install Cygwin. That gives you a real OpenSSH implementaton plus local bash.

When I have my choice, I use Linux pretty much exclusively. I’ve used MacOS and iOS, and I find the latter annoying to use, albeit shiny. I would have preferred more effort and thought in the design of user interactions than in graphic design of icons, but I guess that’s just me.

I wouldn’t own an iPhone or Mac anyway, due to privacy and freedom issues. Yes, I’m one of “those people.”

I don’t find the iPhone design especially attractive. It’s a brick with rounded corners. The Razr HD is a much prettier device IMO.

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