Great Design Goes Deep

Justin French, March 2012

You’ve probably already seen this quote from Chris Moseleym (Samsung’s AV Product Manager), discussing the threat of an Apple branded television:

TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but let’s face it that’s a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.

This is exactly what’s wrong with nearly every consumer electronics company. It’s why Apple’s loyal customers, incredibly successful product launches and awesome profit margins are the envy of the entire industry.

I purchased a new TV about five years ago, and I haven’t thought about picture quality once since we plugged it in. What do I think about every day? How frustrating this TV is to own and use.

The manufacturer won the battle on the showroom floor, but they absolutely lost the war. I don’t love their product, I feel no loyalty to their brand, and I’ll be wary of their products in the future. The next showroom battle will be much more difficult for them, and it should have been easier. We want to fall in love with your products and we want to feel great about our purchases.

If you can sell me one great product, then you will likely sell me many great products over the coming years. I’ll bond with you. I’ll sell your products to friends and family for you. I might even do something crazy like pre-order your stuff the day you announce it, sight unseen.

I don’t know what a great TV looks like yet, but I’m certain it won’t compete on picture quality or any other technical specification that seems to matter right now. The battle ground will shift from the showroom to the lounge room. Facts to emotions. A great TV will change the rules, reframe the problem and show us what’s important.

The solution (and indeed the problem) will be so clear and obvious in hindsight. This is great design, and it goes deep. It’s been done before in nearly every market from $650 phones to $20 project management software. What are you working on?