What it is: One of Apple’s failures was the Cube design that didn’t offer expandability. Then Apple repeated the same mistake with the Mac Pro cylinder design.
There’s a saying that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Amazingly, major companies like Apple and Microsoft keep forgetting this basic rule. Microsoft made this mistake when they tried to cram the Windows 95 desktop interface into smartphones with Windows Mobile. When that didn’t work, Microsoft took the tile interface from Windows Phone and forced it into the desktop world of Windows 8.
Microsoft first took the user interface from desktops PCs and tried to cram it into mobile computers. Then they took the mobile computing interface and tried to cram it into desktop PCS. Now their latest folly is to take Windows 10 and force it into every device possible as a single user interface.
The problem is that people don’t want the same suer interface for everything or else we’d all be steering cars using rudders like boats, which is how early car designs once worked. With Microsoft perpetually confused about user interfaces, Apple is making the same mistakes with hardware.
Way back in 2000, Steve Jobs and Apple created the G4 Cube. The main focus of this computer was design, but they crammed it with a fast processor and RAM. The huge problem was that it wasn’t easily expandable. Essentially when you bought the G4 Cube, you had a fast computer that looked great, but wouldn’t be able to expand later. This made the G4 Cube an expensive piece of art that would become obsolete in no time.
Failing to learn from this mistake, Apple then announced in 2013 the Mac Pro cylinder, otherwise known as the trashcan design. Like the G4 Cube, the Mac Pro trashcan looked great, but lacked expandability that professional computer users require. As a result, the Mac Pro made the exact same mistakes as the G4 Cube in looking great but restricting expandability.
Hopefully Apple will learn from this mistake in putting aesthetics ahead of practicality because the company recently announced that they’re redesigning the Mac Pro to focus on expandability. That means the next Mac Pro won’t look like a piece of art that can’t be expanded in the future. Apple also announced that they plan to update the iMac design for professionals as well.
What Apple learned was that appearance is nice, but can never totally substitute for practicality. Apple needs to design for practicality first and then package that practicality into a design that looks good, not the other way around.
The next Mac Pro design won’t arrive until 2018 but the redesigned iMacs for professionals should arrive later this year. In case you wondered why Apple was taking so long to update their Macintosh lineup, it’s likely because they decided to redesign their products for the future and realized they had designed themselves into a dead end with pretty computers that ultimately weren’t that useful later.
Let’s hope that Apple will finally learn the lesson of the G4 Cube and stop making great-looking products that don’t meet the needs of real users. It’s okay to make mistakes because that’s a by-product of innovation, but it’s not okay to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.