If it is one thing Apple is known for, above all else, it is the design of Apple products. From the very beginning Apple has shown a different level of attention to design detail than many of its competitors, and throughout its history, the company has been a constant source of design innovation.
With that in mind, its very difficult to rank the Top 10 Apple designs of all time, and there is certainly no way to make everyone reading the list happy…BUT…that’s never stopped us before, and this time I have had a little help with feedback from Twitter followers…so let’s just get straight to it…
The Top 10 Apple Designs of All Time
10. Power Mac G4 Cube
The 8x8x8 Power Mac G4 Cube was only around for a short time, but while it was here, it was a beautiful sight to behold.
09. Powerbook 100
Sometimes its the little things that count – and with the Powerbook 100, Apple introduced a small design innovation that completely changed notebook computers from that point forward. By pushing the keyboard up toward the screen and leaving the lower part of the laptop for the user to rest his/her palms, Apple changed the way notebook computers were designed. The nice, dark case, and innovative trackball brought the design to completion, making a stunning package for its time.
The first Macintosh deserves a spot on the list not only for its simple, sleek design, but also for the fact that this machine ushered in a little something we call “desktop publishing”. Not only did it have great looks on the outside, but the innovation on the inside brought a whole new way of designing to the world.
The look and feel of OSX has evolved over 5 generations of the software, but some of the amazing innovations in the look and feel of how one uses a computer are still being “borrowed” by Microsoft in their latest version of Windows. OSX is an elegant, easy to use operating system that has a sleek and sexy look at this unmatched to this day, which earns it a spot on our list.
06. Powerbook G4/Macbook
Sleek, straight lines. The Powerbook G4 debuted with a beautiful look that was simple and elegant. The design has remained with Apple’s Pro notebooks all the way up to the current model for a reason. This design gets it right. No bulky curves or obtrusive design elements. This is THE notebook computer design, and it will be very hard to top.
05. Mac Mini
At the time it was unveiled Apple touted the Mac Mini as the size of 6 CD cases stacked together. It was, and still is, a great way to get an idea of just how compact the Mini is. The design of the machine hasn’t changed since its debut (with the exception of the addition and subtraction of a few ports) and it remains Apple’s cheapest entry into the world of Mac – and a darn nice looking one ta boot.
04. Macbook Air
Sure its light as a feather. Sure its forward thinking in its approach to the wireless world. Sure its…um…not as fast as other Macs…BUT…just look at it. That’s a slick piece of hardware. The design of the Macbook Air has captured the hearts of many users, forcing them to plunk down money on a machine with minimal storage, no optical drive, and less than stellar bench marking…now THAT’S design magic if I ever heard it!
03. iMac Line
Every single addition to the iMac line belongs on this list. If they had all be ranked they would have taken up 4 spots out of the ten, so I decided it was best to group them all right here. They are simply the best computer designs Apple has ever produced.
The original iMac blew the lid off of computer design. At the time no one had seen anything like it, and it quickly became an iconic look – making its way into music videos, movies, and even Peggy Hill’s closet office on “King of the Hill”. The second major design revision, however, took it a step further, creating a piece of art – that happened to be a Mac. Sadly, its life was short lived because Apple wanted an iMac that looked like it came from the creators of iPod – and that’s exactly what they got in the 3rd major revision of the line, creating a monitor that was literally the entire computer…just like the original iMac…but now, it was a flat panel monitor. The current iMac design looks very much like what you would expect to see from the makers of the iPhone, and it continues to get thinner and thinner with almost every revision. Engineering genius – and amazing design.
One would be insane not to include the iPod at or near the top of an Apple design list. The iPod has defined music for the new millenium (can you believe they were only introduced in 2001?), and has forever changed the way we listen to music and interact with entertainment. While some would say the classic iPod design is on the way out, it will forever be one of the most influential designs of the first part of the 21st century.
01. iPhone/iPod Touch
The iPhone has introduced us to mobile computing in a way that seemed like a sci-fi fantasy dream only a little over a year ago. The sleek and simple design of the device’s exterior, along with the revolutionary multi-touch technology that makes it an intuitive interactive device have created a product that is the envy of every other phone manufacturer on the planet. Its influence into modern mobile phone design is already rampant, with major companies doing their best to knock off the amazing look and features of the iPhone.
Apple is forever changing and innovating its product line, and it is safe to say that this list will look very different when someone writes an updated version in 10 years. I’m sure their will be at least a little debate on the order of things here, and as always, I welcome you to make your own list in the comments below.