Battle of the Titans
There are a ton of tantalizing tidbits leaking out of the technology “trial of the century” pitting Apple against Samsung. In pre-trial briefs and in testimony that is now unfolding, the world is getting a rare peek inside the world’s most famously secret company.
Ian Sherr at the Wall Street Journal provides a nice summary and with pointers to more detail if you really want to wade through the legalese. The Week wraps up the rapid-fire tweeting to date here as well.
For me, it’s striking how many of the tools and techniques Apple uses to “think different” aren’t really that different after all.
In testimony, Scott Forstall, an Apple senior vice president for mobile software, described how Apple chose and sequestered the design team for the iPhone—at that point called “Project Purple”—on one heavily guarded floor of an Apple building. Keeping the team together allowed them to be efficient and creative. The benefits Apple reaped have been shown elsewhere to be directly related to co-location.
Sherr also summarizes the testimony of Chris Stringer, an Apple designer who walked the court through design prototypes outlined in a brief filed earlier. In it, a number of early industrial designs were shown, along with details of how Apple’s industrial designers created multiple options and iterated on the most promising ones. These aspects of design thinking—experimentation and iteration—are also well established and followed.
Perhaps most shockingly, Apple reveals that, contrary to Steve Jobs’ famous quote about not listening to customers, Apple employed customer surveys and focus groups, and even took clues from the competition on what to build—such as the widely rumored 7-inch iPad. Most people already suspected that Apple employed such environmental sensing techniques, but it’s interesting to see the details emerging.
There’s more detail to come, and the full story isn’t yet told. But it seems to me like Apple’s secret sauce isn’t so much in using fundamentally different ideation or design techniques, but in applying them all together with an admirable and rarely seen discipline. And that can be a valuable execution lesson for all of us.