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Archive for the ‘Product Design’ Category

What we’ve learnt about Apple from their new iPhone 6 launch

Posted Friday, September 26th, 2014

Apple claim to have shifted approximately 10 million iPhone 6 and 6plus combined. That’s a huge number in it’s first week and has been accompanied by the media sensation and long queues that we’ve come to expect

But what has the recent launch shown us about design, marketing and technology?

Design:
Apple’s phones have been designed consistently thinner since their original release and for the first time they’re big. Jobs famously said that consumers didn’t want large screens but the recent releases seem to suggest that Cook disagrees as a result of the demand from their customer’s demands. When I recently spoke to an assistant in the Vodafone shop 6 months ago she claimed people were selecting their phone devices on size so it has been no surprise that apple have responded accordingly.

Marketing:
Apple’s keynote is a major tech event which generates its own hype but interestingly problems have come since the event. The keynote was dogged by poor viewing, the servers were struggling to stream the event and for the first 20 minutes it was dubbed in Mandarin. Since then people have criticised the forced download of U2’s album, the bendy iPhone 6 plus and bugs with iOS8. Frankly, these issues won’t effect sales and nor have they deterred me in any way to order the iPhone 6 but it shows that life is never silky smooth even for the world’s coolest brand, voted by cool brands.com

Technology:
Each new iPhone release has major upgrades which improve the running and functionality of the phone but if you ask a consumer what the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, I bet all they will say is size! Interestingly, iOS8 and the iPhone 6 are according to Apple the most significant upgrades since their first phone. As someone who takes  a keen interest in the upgrades and how it will effect my startup BeBirbal I’ve noticed that users will find taking pictures and videos will offer more options and iOS8 makes it a much easier to search for websites and apps.

To be honest whatever Apple offered with a new phone it’d be snapped up but I do feel that recent upgrades are an improvement to the user and even developers. We know apple are cool even if they do make some major mistakes, such is the extent of their customer loyalty. They’ve delivered what was expected, a slickly designed device with some fantastic technology and a strong message which covers any cracks.


iPhone 5 ‘lacking wow factor’ receives mixed reaction from fans and experts

Posted Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Apple’s iPhone 5 has been criticised for not being ‘innovative enough’ and ‘lacking wow factor’ by some fans following the unveiling of the device at a press conference yesterday.

Following the announcement fans of the smartphone took to the internet to give their reactions to the much-anticipated gadget.

The technology giant revealed the smartphone at an event in San Francisco along with several new iPods.

The iPhone 5 is taller and slimmer than the 4S due to its 4” screen, which allows users to view videos in a near 16:9 aspect ratio.

Battery life is also increased and the smartphone will be available on 4G LTE when it is released in the UK on September 21st.

The company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller described it as an ‘absolute jewel’.

David McQueen, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, admitted the iPhone 5 offered few surprises but said the company was banking on its ability to create cool products.

‘While the new hardware may not quite stack up against other products expected in market, it is Apple’s ability to create stylish, desirable products attached to a rich set of services that it hopes can still set it apart to create differentiation,’ he said.

Paul Armstrong, head of social at media agency Mindshare UK, agreed with this, and added Apple had demonstrated ‘its commitment to technical and design excellence’.

What do you think of the iPhone 5- Apple rocks or Rotten Apple?


Phones 4 everyone!

Posted Monday, July 18th, 2011

While the explosion of mobile use is no new phenomenon, what continues to amaze is the appetite for smart phones and the onus on making them indispensible to the consumer. The smart phone was impressive alone, let alone the continued progression of technology that is making it the most modern form of communication far beyond texts and phone calls. In fact, in terms of social media use, it’s easier to use a smart phone that it is your desktop.

Currently, 25% of people in the UK own a smart phone but by 2014 this number will rise to 75%, a staggering increase in such a short time. Social media will play a key part in this growth, consumers want to access their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or watch YouTube videos where ever they are, at any time of the day. In the UK 50% of all mobile internet traffic is on Facebook the key platform driving mobile internet usage, followed by Google and YouTube.

What does this mean for your business? The key aspect is that your customers are constantly talking about your brand with more ease than ever before. A consumer having a coffee mentions where they’ve been and how good it was, a service they’ve used and their reflections on it. In many occasions it’s not even a conscious effort to name the brand and give their opinion; it’s just sharing information and updating the people in their community.

Businesses need to get smart. They need to be aware that in the past they discovered what their customers thought by handing out testimonial cards. That’s long gone. They’ve almost lost control of who says what and when, but as a result, businesses need to be at the top of their game every day. It’s no longer enough to produce a good dish when a restaurant reviewer visits; every customer is now the reviewer with an equal opinion. They need to embrace social media rather than continue to run from it.

Facebook, Twitter and no doubt Google+ have been developed with the mobile device in mind. Facebook’s places and Twitter’s geotagging are developments that use smart phones to give information beyond an update. The idea is for the micro-blogging sites to be immediate and convenient. It captures their thought at that moment which can then be shared with incredible ease. Experiences, good and bad are shared by consumers every minute of every day.

70% of people will buy products/services even if it has been recommended by a stranger and 90% buy after recommendations from friends. For businesses this means that with the spread of social media and the rise of smart phones they need to be at the top of the game and value every customer. Companies are being discussed, whether it be positive or negative feedback and they need to be on top of it. Social media isn’t going away, it’s only going to grow as smart phones make it easier to post and the consumer now gets their voice heard.

See also- How long until you’ll be buying your groceries with your phone?


How long until you’ll be buying your groceries with your phone?

Posted Friday, April 8th, 2011

In light of recent advances in technology– the mobile payment sector is fighting to be the next big thing.

While our friends in Asia and parts of Europe have already been making purchases with their phones, mobile payments in the UK haven’t really taken off.

The biggest problem with mobile payment and top of everyone’s greatest worry is security. When it comes to people’s payment processing, data is of the utmost importance. People are generally very reluctant to enter their payment details when very few sites offer any obvious security measures.

There are 3 important factors to think of when you’re making a payment:

• Make sure it’s only sent to the POS system, rather than passing through third-party services.
• Your payment details are stored carefully on your phone
• Make sure it is encrypted when it’s sent to the POS system

However, despite the security measures and concerns million os people use the POS terminals and systems which in actual fact aren’t that secure. Ironically, there is no evidence that mobile payment is any less secure.

Starbucks has recently started accepting mobile payments. They claimed 3 million people paid for their coffee using the company app.

How long will it be until we pay for our Sunday newspaper using your smartphone?


Model of Bloodhound supersonic car unveiled

Posted Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The British team hoping to drive a car faster than 1,000mph has unveiled a full-scale model of the vehicle.

The model is a star turn at this year’s Farnborough International Air Show.The team has announced that aerospace manufacturer Hampson Industries will begin building the rear of the real vehicle in the first quarter of 2011.

Another deal to construct the front end with a second company is very close.”We now have a route to manufacture for the whole car,” said chief engineer Mark Chapman.”We would hope to be able to shake down the vehicle on a runway in the UK either at the end of 2011 or at the beginning of 2012,” he told BBC News.

Assuming no major issues arise from those runway tests, Bloodhound will be shipped straight to a dried up lakebed known as Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa, to begin its assault on the world land speed record.

To claim the record, the vehicle will have to better the mark of 763mph (1,228km/h) set by the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997. But the team believes Bloodhound’s superior aerodynamic shape, allied to the immense power of its Falcon hybrid rocket and Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, will take the blue and orange car beyond 1,000mph (1,610km/h).

Three people who worked on Thrust are also engaged in the Bloodhound project. They are driver Wing Cdr Andy Green, project director Richard Noble and chief aerodynamicist Ron Ayres. The trio envisaged Bloodhound not just as another record bid but as a project that could inspire children to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. And the Bloodhound Education Programme has announced here at Farnborough that some 1.5 million school children are now using curriculum resource materials based on the supersonic car.

Key modifications
 
The model car is on display at the Farnborough air show this week. The real vehicle will weigh about six tonnes, but even the polystyrene and fibre-glass replica weighs 950kg.

Visitors will be able to see in the model the key aerodynamic advances made by the design team at the turn of the year which turned Bloodhound into a driveable car.

Before this point, the car was producing dangerous amounts of lift at high speed in the modelling. But by playing with the position and shape of key elements of the car’s rear end, the design team found a solution that will manage the shockwave passing around and under the vehicle when it goes supersonic.

The effort was assisted greatly by project sponsor Intel. It was able to bring colossal computing power to bear on the lift problem.

“It’s called configuration 10,” said Mr Chapman. “It’s very angular at the back; it’s got a very narrow rear-track.

Between November and March, we reduced 11 tonnes of lift to zero lift at Mach 1.3. At that point, we had the aerodynamic shape which you see in the show car. It’s very stable.”

Ron Ayres added: “We’re now working on things like the air brakes and engine-bay cooling – detail inside the car. There’s a lot of engineering to do. But as far as the outside of the car is concerned, we’re pretty much done. Some work still needs to be done on the wheel fairings, the fin, the shape and size of the winglets.”


Mobile App Market to Surge to $17.5 Billion by 2012

Posted Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Lithuanian-based GetJar, an independent mobile phone application store with more than 60,000 mobile applications for major mobile platforms such as Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile, commissioned a study that predicts a huge surge in the number of mobile app downloads and the overall size of the mobile app market.

Mashable, 17th March 2010

According to the study, created by Chetan Sharma Consulting, mobile app downloads should jump from 7 billion in 2009 to almost 50 billion in 2012. By this time, the market will be worth 17.5 billion dollars, the study predicts, despite the expected lower price of mobile apps, which should drop from the current average of 2 dollars per app to 1.5 dollars in 2012.

GetJar chief executive Ilja Laurs makes another bold prediction, echoing the one we’ve recently heard from a Google executive. “It is easy to see how mobile apps will eclipse the traditional desktop Internet. It makes perfect sense that mobile devices will kill the desktop,” he said.

He backs this up with more data from the study, citing that 17% of GetJar users spend more time on internet-linked smartphones than they do on desktops.

Be that as it may, the work you do on your desktop is still a lot different than the work you do on your smartphone. The mobile application market definitely has tremendous room to grow, especially with the coming of iPad, which takes the mobile app paradigm and slaps it onto a bigger, tablet device. But let’s wait and see how it performs on the market before we declare desktop dead or irrelevant.


Red Bull – Brand Promotion at its Best

Posted Friday, February 5th, 2010

Now the most popular energy drink on the market, Red Bull enjoys over 80% of the energy drinks market in the UK and many other European countries, and nearly 50% of the US market, but just how did Red Bull do it?

Gaining such a huge market share is no easy thing to do, particularly when you consider a rival drink, Lucozade, has been a household name for well over 50 years.

Red Bull is the brainchild of Dietrich Mateschitz, a 64 year old billionaire Austrian entrepreneur who was struck by a Thai energy drink that immediately cured his jet lag. Mateschitz approached the manufacturers of the Thai drink, named Krating Daeng – Thai for Red Bull, and teamed up with TC Pharmaceutical to transform the energy drink for the European market. The result, the Red Bull drink we enjoy today, was first sold in Hungary in 1992 and then in the USA in 1997. The drink has since dominated the energy drinks market, and this is down to some pretty nifty advertising and some very creative ideas.

Red Bull interestingly gained notoriety by not trying to directly compete in the normal way most brands would attempt to gain exposure through means like TV advertising, but became popular in youth culture by creative and targeted brand awareness. This was achieved by employing students and DJs to host parties where the drink was sold and the craze quickly caught on; the drink quickly became a popular mixer with vodka and a drug-free way to enjoy partying late into the night without loss of energy.

Always at the forefront of youth culture, Red Bull is also actively involved in some of the most exciting sporting events, from the Red Bull Air Race to the Red Bull Street Style 2008, an event held to find the world’s best freestyle soccer players, with events taking part world wide, leading up to the final which takes place in Sao Paulo in Brazil in November.

With its rise in popularity, the company has also started to sponsor mainstream sports events like Formula One. But to keep the brand edgy and youthful, its sports promotion stays with exciting, dangerous or extreme sports – you can’t exactly see Red Bull sponsoring Wimbledon, can you?

Red Bull has also turned negative publicity about the brand – mostly centered round health fears over drinking too much of the highly-caffeinated drink – into a good thing. When France and Norway both announced a ban on the drink citing health risks, the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity rang true, as the ban only served to boost the drink’s trendy ‘bad boy’ image among young consumers.

In focusing on exciting, dynamic event marketing and campaigns targeting consumers outside of the normal advertising model, Red Bull have created a worldwide brand that remains edgy, fresh and on the cutting edge.

Of course not every business has the startup marketing budget of a brand like Red Bull, but it’s often not that expensive to try a bit of non-traditional advertising.
You don’t have to spend loads of money on newspaper and magazine advertising to get your name about. Even with a fairly modest website, some clever SEO can really get its name out there and there’s other less technical ways to build brand awareness.


Perhaps the largest single design project conducted by Virgin Atlantic Airways in recent years is the design of the company’snew Upper Class Suite. Introduced in response to a direct competitor action (BA’s introduction of the first fully flat aircraft seat-bed), the Upper Class Suite was a totally new concept in aircraft interior design and was designed, engineered and brought into production in only 36 months

Posted Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Design Council

The original requirement for the Upper Class Suite was simple: Virgin Atlantic needed to introduce a flat bed into its upper class cabins. Joe Ferry, Head of Design and Service Design, and his team began by exploring a wide range of different configurations, including the use of seats with separate sleeping areas. Eventually they settled on the concept of a seat and a bed that were in the same space, but separate entities.

During the early concept phases Ferry and his team also spent considerable time with Virgin Atlantic‘s management discussing different seat design features and assigning relative priorities to each, so decisions could be made on what to include and what to remove from the final design.

As concepts developed, the team worked with Virgin Atlantic’s engineering function to understand whether particular concepts would be acceptable under safety and airworthiness regulations. It also brought in its first external support – in the form of Design Q, an automotive design consultancy used for its layout design and model making skills, which could help to produce 3D concept models to assist with evaluation.

At the end of this initial phase, Ferry and his team presented their concepts to the board, which gave the project the green light to move forward to the Design Development stage.

From concept to prototype
Once the overall concept was evolved, Virgin Atlantic began to involve more specialist outside design support, including a structural engineering firm to assist with the mechanical design of the new seat and to ensure compliance with the very stringent aircraft safety specifications. They also brought in furniture design specialist Pearson Lloyd, after briefing the agency to produce a hypothetical concept for a competitor product to understand its design language and style.

Ferry emphasises that the Upper Class Suite experience is a holistic approach covering much more than just the seat design, involving not just the cabin ambience but also associated service elements including limousine pick-up, in-flight massage and a range of dining options. The company brought in additional specialists during the design process to achieve this.

Another design agency, Softroom, was used to develop a concept for the whole interior ambiance and specialist lighting design consultancy DHA assisted with illumination concepts.

Pearson Lloyd used its own ergonomic experience to optimise the comfort of the seat concept and used ergonomic data that Virgin Atlantic Airways had commissioned from Qinetiq. Within 12 months the team had built a full-scale dynamic prototype seat for evaluation purposes.

The prototype Upper Class Suite business case was approved by Virgin Atlantic’s executive board and the seat design then underwent an extensive evaluation process. Members of cabin crew were seconded onto the design team to evaluate usability from a crew point of view and frequent flyers even came in to sleep in the test seat at Virgin Atlantic’s HQ. These extended test sessions were augmented by shorter review sessions in which the company’s top 50 passengers would come and assess the new design. Such user evaluation was important, says Ferry, but must be treated with caution as passenger feedback – which can be limited in so far as consumers are only able to react to what they have already experienced – won’t ‘take you to the next level.’

Manufacture
Once the board had approved the seat design, The Virgin Atlantic design team turned its attention to the manufacture of the seat. At this point in the process, input from external design consultants stopped: Virgin Atlantic and the consultants recorded the agreed design in a Detailed Design Specification Document and through it Ferry and his team became ‘guardians of the design’ throughout the engineering and manufacturing process. Here again, the availability of a working concept model was extremely useful, as without it, says Ferry, ‘the manufacturers would have said, “It can’t be done”.’ Manufacturing engineering took 24 months and at the same time the Virgin Atlantic design team conducted an extensive value engineering programme, looking for opportunities to reduce costs without affecting user perception of the product by, for example, ensuring that the leather seat cover designs make maximum possible utilisation of a single hide. The Upper Class Suite was delivered to aircraft in late 2003. Virgin Atlantic continues to use a similar process on other projects and is just completing a redesign of its Premium Economy class cabin.


How design can help your business perform more strongly

Posted Friday, August 7th, 2009

When times are tough and revenues are falling there may be a temptation for business to cut ‘discretionary’ budgets – money allocated to activities such as design, perhaps.

But design is a powerful tool in a downturn.

Design Council
Our research shows that more than half of the UK’s businesses:

  • …are looking to design their way out of downturn
    Over half (54%) of the firms in our survey thought design would contribute to a large or great extent in helping maintain their competitive edge in the current economic climate.
  • …think design is more important now
    Similarly, 53% thought that design had become more important in helping the firm to achieve its business objectives over the last three years.
  • …think design is integral to the economic performance of the UK
    The same number agreed or strongly agreed that design is integral to the country’s future economic performance.

Fortunes can change for any business – large or small – sending a once successful and thriving operation into decline. Shifts in the economy, in consumer sentiment or changes in the marketplace are just a few of the factors that might leave a company in trouble and unsure how to get back on track. Even mighty corporations such as McDonald’s or entire industries like the Swiss watch industry have fallen foul of changes in the market, but both responded through an investment in design and innovation which helped to turn their fortunes around.

What can design do?

There are many ways design can help your business perform more strongly, from improving your image (internally and externally), innovating your products or services, through to enhancing your overall efficiency and saving you money.

Companies of different sizes and from different sectors have worked with designers to improve their performance during challenging conditions.

Castle Rock Brewery
Competing in the competitive real ales market is tough. Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham brought in designers The Workroom to give its communications and graphics a more professional edge. Demand is now outstripping supply and the company’s barrel sales growth has doubled.

Thistle Hotels
The rise of value chains has meant that hotel groups in the traditional mid-market have suffered. Thistle Hotels is using an image overhaul by designers Navyblue to spearhead a multimillion-pound refurbishment and service improvement programme, and visitor numbers are already rising.

McCain’s
Frozen food company McCain suffered badly following a backlash against poor diets and rising obesity, so it worked with designers Elmwood to rethink the way its packaging speaks to shoppers in supermarkets, promoting the product’s natural ingredients and low fat. Sales have since blossomed to record levels.

HMV
High street music specialist HMV has had to react to massive changes in the way its customers buy music and video titles since the arrival of digital files and the internet. It used design to create a next generation store and whole new brand proposition. Sales at a trial store jumped by 25 per cent.

Ian Macleod Distillers
Scotch whisky drinking is in decline. So family company Ian Macleod Distillers employed designers to create packaging for its new Smokehead whisky aimed at bringing younger consumers to the whisky market. Sales have doubled since launch in 2006.

Design beats the blues

During hard times investment in design can give a business a competitive edge over rivals who are reining in their design and innovation budgets in order to save money. As American Express chief executive Ken Chenault told Fortune Magazine: ‘A difficult economic environment argues for the need to innovate more, not to pull back.’ Similarly, in September 2008 following a crisis in the global financial markets and in the face of an impending worldwide recession, Intel‘s chairman Craig Barrett told Reuters that investment in the company’s products and innovation remained very much on track. ‘We’ve always had the attitude that you have to make that investment in good times and bad,’ he is quoted as saying.

While American Express and Intel are global businesses, with dedicated R&D and marketing functions, the same wisdom applies to a business of any size: when times are tough it is change, dynamism and vitality – not hunkering down quietly – which are the keys to success. And this is exactly where design can help.

As you can see in the case studies above, companies big and small are rising to the challenge of hard times through a conscious investment in design. Their decision to innovate – to rethink and regenerate their products, operations and image – can be taken by a company of any size and in any area. Design and brand strategy can help elevate a firm or its products from the ordinary, the tired or the predictable, demonstrating that the business is alive, dynamic and responsive. And in a declining market that just might make the difference between growth and collapse.

Famed for precision timekeeping since the late 16th century, Switzerland’s watch industry nevertheless ran into crisis during the mid-1970s when Asian companies began to take over the market with quartz crystal technologies. Battling recession at the same time, Swatch (then known as SSIH) became insolvent, forcing its creditor banks to take control. Eventually, in the mid-1980s, CEO Nicolas Hayek took the company private and started a design revolution which was to save the business and put Switzerland back in the vanguard of watch manufacturing.

Design was instrumental in this reinvention. A combination of product aesthetics and reengineering (which reduced costs) gave Swatch the edge, leading it to become the largest watch company in the world, rescued from the jaws of collapse. Launched in 1983, the first Swatch wristwatch was a slim model using only 51 components (versus a typical 91 or more) and was marketed at an affordable price with contemporary design and styling. According to Swatch, the product has gone on to become the most successful wristwatch of all time.

Swatch‘s gross sales reached approximately £3 billion in 2007, but Hayek also claims that the design strategies he developed for Swatch in the early 1980s led to the rebirth of the entire Swiss watch industry, regaining its leading position worldwide since 1984. Data bear this out, with Swiss watch exports growing from around £2 billion in 1986 to £7 billion in 2006, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

While the creation of luxury power boats for a global market may represent design for a wealthy minority, Sunseeker International’s success results from a dedication to design from the smallest beginnings, undertaken in the face of the decline of British shipbuilding.

Formed in the 1960s by brothers Robert and John Braithwaite in a single industrial unit in Poole Harbour, Sunseeker was initially a distributor of Scandinavian boats. But Robert Braithwaite believed there was a potential UK market and so designed and built his first boat. From that start, the company has doggedly maintained a priority focus on design, design management, technology innovation and bespoke building. This combination has helped Sunseeker grow from its single unit to encompass seven sites and a million square feet of production space.

Believing that design is a vitally important part of this success, Sunseeker employs exterior and interior designers to work alongside engineering design, yacht styling and production teams, as well as with customers. It reinvests around 6 per cent of turnover in research and development. This has led to truly global success from a UK base: designed and manufactured in Poole, around 99 per cent of Sunseeker’s boats are now sold to the export market.


 
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