I think that’s sum sit up for me too. They put out a product we all expected, so no real surprise. Engineering point of view it’s fascinating and great; design point of view, as expected so a little boring.
Is this an insult or a compliment?
X box: Had another look. I think all of the little detail faults just come from manufacturing compromise. MS is using off-the-shelf components, so the designers are forced to deal with certain unmodifiable hard points. Basically, the same problem that 95% of consumer design faces.
Mac Mini: I’m going to switch sides a bit here. Sure, Apple has slowly evolved their aesthetic concept, but their products are leaps and bounds better now than 10 years ago. Hold a 1st gen iPod up to anything in their line today. The old iPod looks and feels like a cheaply made knock-off. That’s pretty amazing when you think of it!
Hmmm…I have to disagree here. I’m a survey of one, but I recently had to replace my 2nd Gen with the latest gen Nano. The build quality of the latest has gone down significantly. Fit and finish, especially with nav wheel, is poor. The materials have been thinned out significantly (typically for cost savings). I never had a gen 1 of the iPod, I was a late bloomer
Exactly, Apple has more latitude when it comes to this because they over-design and are more involved in the design and layout of the internals. So in a way the Xbox is design by committee if you consider that they had to design the case around modular components based on some industry standards. If they took Apple’s approach you’re talking about a gaming console that would cost about as much as a gaming PC, losing the console market’s price competitive edge vs. PC gaming. Console manufacturers practically give the machine away as it is with tight margins and then make up the difference (and then some) by licensing titles.
So, which is the more ambitious design challenge? Designing around an existing hardware platform with tight budget constraints and a narrow target market? Or designing a shell around a hardware platform that you can manipulate using an established and accepted design aesthetic that has broad appeal? How would Apple’s designers approach Microsoft’s challenge? Oh wait, they don’t do icky gaming unless it’s on an iSomething, my bad.
You could argue that Apple has done it right because they’ve made it easier for themselves, but things that are easy to do have a tendency to be repeated, when things repeat they get boring, I would like to see them do something different at this point too.
Maker’s Mark just introduced a new Bourbon after 50 years of making one product, kudos for them.
Design by committee has little to do with the components selected. Design has worked with OTS components for eons, but still is capable of creating a product that wasn’t designed in a board room. Everything from “the stealth look” to the high gloss paint with little to no material/texture transitions…they all make me believe that the Designers don’t control their process at Microsoft.
It’s really tough for a group of design professionals to sit and pick apart the Xbox when 90% of us don’t fall into their target market. Not saying that all criticism from everyone here isn’t on point (especially you’re pinpoint accurate post RK), but maybe we need to step back for a second and think about the user here. The last time I checked, any one buying the latest Xbox, PS3, Wii, etc, didn’t care what it looked like, they cared what it had to offer. Can it connect quickly online? How fast do my games load? What titles are available? What kind of interaction can I have? Etc, etc.
I’m positive the target Xbox user spends HIS night watching Spike TV and Sportscenter, while tracking his Facebook posts on an Asus Netbook, downloading the latest Transformers movie on his home built PC.
I love the xbox in terms of it’s gaming ability and have have never really liked the way it looked, but I never really cared because it wasn’t what I was after.
The target Mac Mini user, definitely doesn’t have cable, they have nice furniture, other Apple products, and probably have 3 copies of Dwell on their glass and stainless steel coffee table.
Just a guess
If they don’t care what it looked like, wouldn’t the perfect design be something like the mac mini with “no” design? Just a box?
Yes, that’s a good point. And you’re probably correct. I guess the point I was making is that fans of the Xbox aren’t going to let the look of it decide if they’re going to buy it or not. They’re going to buy it anyway because it’s the latest gaming system and they want to stay up to date.
Now, to add to your point above. If you were to take the xbox, have Apple design it (yeah, right) and keep it the same price as the current Xbox, you’d really be on to something. But, would it sell more units just because it looks like a Mac? If it were between that and the new Xbox, I’d say probably. If it were in place of the new Xbox, I’d say no.
With that said, ha, I’m pretty interested in the gestural media control via Kinect. My wife will love that if it works as well as the demos depict.
Then design it to disappear! Seriously, technology is at a point where consoles should be starting to go away, not become MORE of an attempt to have you notice it.
Yes, I completely agree with you. I’m just saying that the consumer doesn’t care (as much) in this instance, with this particular product. But, Microsoft probably thinks they do care.
Apple is amazing, again. ALthough I like both design, apples sfits into the trademark image, takes it to an even more minimalist level. As for the Xbox, its a product that you play all sorts of high tech games on and this is what is communicate by the product.
I just typed “American living room” into google. Would a Mac Mini disappear in here? I don’t think so. I would stand out just as much as an X Box, just for a different reason.
The briefs are completely different for completely different markets, so I think we should judge these from those perspectives. If the X Box could cost 20% more, it could be more like a Mac Mini, but it’s not. I believe, the MS designers designed something to stand out and bash people over the head. Sure it has weird odd ball details, but that’s what’s drawing our attention.
I’m not making a moral judgement here…I’m making a market-based judgement.
Designer of the new XBox: Scott Wilson of Minimal (http://www.mnml.com/)
Source: FastCompany (Xbox 360 Slim Designer Scott Wilson Is Also Making Conference Tables M) unrelated article, but says casually he designed the new XBox.
ip: I can see what you’re saying, but the response to the new xbox from the market has been amazing (in a good way. Pre-orders sold out in a day, read comments on any gaming forum/blog, etc). I think the new box has a pretty sexy look and is meant to be displayed/noticed, not disappeared.
I don’t think the consumers don’t care what it looks like. They do care. The new design made thousands of people WANT one. And that’s important. I think another thing to take into consideration is that this is not a new product, but an update. If it were a brand new console they’re pushing, then I think it’d be different. However, they already have a large customer base, and I think this new design fits very well.
That being said, I still prefer the old one.
The Mac Mini is awesome. What Yo said.
The new Xbox is a cool idea, but they didn’t really extrapolate the concept far enough. They kept some of the round edges and it doesn’t really go with the new faceted surfacing.
I find it interesting that as Microsoft releases their offering for more casual gamers, they introduce a more polarizing design. Typically, the edgy tacky stuff is for the hardcore Xbox/PC demographic (18-35). Astro’s original Xbox 360 was surprisingly friendly, feminine, and more universal. Definitely shows how amazing Apple is with their consistency.
P.S. I prefer the original Xbox japanese controller. I’ve never had a better controller in my hands ever. The handle surfaces on the new one feel more arbitrary.
Everybody remember the (old) New X-box discussion, was that really 2005? I feel old.
good stuff, even has some nice kernels from SW in there
Wow, thanks for that. A great read (I’m halfway through all 8 pages now). Funny how the tone in the old core forums were so much more venomous and heated.
PS. Maybe just itching to get sketching lately, but again, new XBOX concepts would be a great 1HDC, and likely perhaps get some good blog coverage from the tech blogs given the timely nature of the topic…