Journal article

The nature of design practice and implications for interaction design research

Owen C, Thomke S, Feinberg B, Dalsgaard P, Stolterman E ...see all

International Journal of Design, vol. 609-066, issue 1 (2008) pp. 55-65

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Apple’s products, from its first computer, which debuted in 1978, to whatever is unveiled at the
next Macworld, tend to sport similar descriptions: they are elegant, they embody simplicity, and they
are “cool.” Moreover, anyone who used the Apple II in 1978 and then picked up an iPhone three
decades later would find it a familiar object. Somehow it’s the same thing: different, but the same.
This note, at a very broad level, considers that achievement—creating the same/different thing over
time—and the ingredients that, at Apple, have enabled it, including a continual embracing of new
technologies and materials, and new ways of working. Innovation is in some sense conservative at
this company.
“Design Thinking” is the leadoff issue and in fact threads through the note. We’ll also touch on
operational matters and how they’ve become far more systematized over the years. And we finally
consider that for all the apparent consistency, Apple has gone in seemingly unexpected and often
derided directions, bucking the trends and redefining “common wisdom.”

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  • Charles L Owen

  • Stefan Thomke

  • Barbara Feinberg

  • Peter Dalsgaard

  • E Stolterman

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