December 2009 Archives

Apple and Beautiful Packaging

In the past I've most always favored function over form.   Perhaps it's the practical engineer within me.   Aesthetics?  An added bonus only if it is on top of superior performance.

But, I think Apple has gotten to me.  Make no doubt, I like Apple products, current backlash non-withstanding.  I'm no fan boi but there's something about Apple's design aesthetic.  Granted, the products are pretty good (but there have been bombs along the way too -- Mighty Mouse I, Time Capsule, Newton...) but I truly appreciate the aesthetic.  The products are beautiful.  However, beyond the products themselves, the packaging in its own right has an aesthetic and beauty that is unmatched.   It's a joy getting and opening a package from Apple.

This is the box my MacBook came in:


It speaks to me and I can't wait to open it.  It screams Fun.  Sexy.  Cool.

Compare this to:


From a utilitarian perspective, this is a great product.  A terabyte disk for less than $130!  (Moore's law and increasing disk densities -- that's a blog post for another day).  It clearly says (in a boring kind of way), "Here's that big disk that you wanted."  But it doesn't generate the excitement of the joy of opening that box of the MacBook.

And this:


This is the Roku device that let's me play movies from Netflix on my TV from the Internet.  It's wireless (and wired) and makes on-demand movie viewing at home easy, fun, and awesome.  It's $100.  It's truly an amazing device! And, yet, when it showed up on my doorstep, I was nonplussed, disappointed and bored.  The aesthetic of the packaging (never mind any potential coolness is hidden behind the FedEx labeling) is a huge yawn.  For such a great device and awesome experience it will be, initial disappointment is not the first impression Roku should want to create.

The Apple experience is end-to-end.  From the announcement at MacWorld (potentially preceded by leaked rumors), the branding and advertising, the in-store experience, and the packaging,  a frenzy of excitement is created.  It's like Christmas morning as a  kid every time you get something new from Apple.  The packaging is a huge differentiator.

Never mind if the product is any good.


This goes beyond product.  Check out how an Apple offer letter is packaged.  I hope the job is just as good.

And, here's how Microsoft might approach packaging:

Finally, I can't wait for the the Tablet, iState, or whatever is being rumored.