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Book details Apple's 'packaging room,' Steve Jobs's interest in advanced cameras

post #1 of 29
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Apple has a secret room devoted solely to designing product packaging and what users experience when opening a new product, a new book reveals. It also gives details on Steve Jobs's interest in a startup camera company before he died late last year.

Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky's goes on sale Wednesday, Jan. 25, and an advance copy was provided to AppleInsider. One of the key themes of the book is the company's "obsessive" focus on its products, all the way down to the packaging of them.

Apple's packaging room is located in a walled-off section of the company's main marketing building, Lashinsky's new book reveals. It's said to be "so secure that those with access to it need to badge in and out."

In the room, employees perform "the most mundane of tasks -- opening boxes." It is said that one packaging designer spent months in the room doing just that, opening hundreds of iPod box prototypes trying to get the experience just right.

"How a customer opens a box must be one of the last things a typical product designer would consider," Lashinsky wrote. "Yet for Apple, the inexpensive box merits as much attention as the high-margin electronic device inside."

He goes on to note that showing attention to detail at even the smallest level communicates to customers that "the manufacturer cares about them." Customers then feel a bond with the company, something that transcends price points.

"Inside Apple" also reveals that only months before his death, Jobs met with the CEO of Lytro, the maker of a new "light field camera" that creates "living" pictures. Lytro's technology gained considerable attention last October, at All Things D's AsiaD Conference, for its camera that lets users focus a picture after it has been captured.

But well before Lytro was on the public's radar, Jobs requested to meet with the company's CEO, Ren Ng, in June of 2011. Ng met Jobs in Palo Alto and gave an in-person demonstration of Lytro's technology to Jobs.



In its current form, Lytro's relatively large, tube-shaped camera is not a candidate for use in an iPhone or most of Apple's other thin products. But Jobs did reveal to biographer Walter Isaacson that photography was one industry he hoped to reinvent, along with televisions and textbooks. Apple unveiled its new digital textbook initiative last week, and rumors continue to persist that the company is working on a full-fledged television set.

A deal was never struck between Lytro and Apple, but Jobs did request that Ng send him an e-mail outlining three things he wanted Lytro to do with Apple. The young 32-year-old CEO complied.

"What struck me the most was how clear his communication was," Ng said, according to the book. "His eyes were just so brilliant. His glasses kind of levitated off his nose. I told him we drew a lot of inspiration from the iPad. He really smiled. It was clear it resonated."

Earlier glimpses at the new book detailed Apple's "cultish secrecy," as well as the fact that there are no free lunches provided to employees on the company's corporate headquarters after first-day orientation. Lashinsky's book include claims that Apple's iOS chief, Scott Forstall, is viewed as the company's "CEO-in-waiting, while the head of Internet software, Eddy Cue, is portrayed as a "dealmaker" crucial to the company's negotiations with outside partners like content providers and wireless carriers.

"Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired -- and Secretive -- Company Really Works" is available to order from Amazon , as well as a digital and an unabridged . "Inside Apple" can also be read on iOS devices by purchasing the title through Apple's iBooks.
post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Inside Apple" also reveals that only months before his death, Jobs met with the CEO of Lytro, the maker of a new "light field camera" that creates "living" pictures.

That'll make Tallest Skill happy. Others too, as it is truly a fascinating technology, where TS can be right in stating: "it's the future"
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post #3 of 29
I wondered if the book contained any images or is it just text?

The modern dilemma; Digital .v. Physical (followed by Kindle .v. iPad)
post #4 of 29
Can they make the cover more bland and amateurish?

Also, AI, you know there's an easy way to write an em dash on Apple's keyboard layout, right?
post #5 of 29
Oh, good. I figured AI would write their own article about this, and JUST after I posted a link to the 9to5 one, too.

So happy when I saw that there. Not just Apple, but STEVE was actively aware of these guys. Hopefully we'll see them bought up or at least have a massive licensing tie-in like Nuance.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #6 of 29
Okay, I think this is one area where apple failed, really I such a pain to locate the edge of the clear plastic protector they put on their various products to protect it from scratches while it ships in the cardboard. It usually worse on the wall adapters.

Maybe Steve was looking for the Neiman Marcus kind experience when opening the box itself, but the rest fell short since it a complete frustration getting the product out of the plastic.
post #7 of 29
This is the first I've heard of Lytro. Amazing technology. I hope they get bought up and pocket big bucks. Someone like RED ought to buy them and produce one-chip 3D movie cameras. In 10 years kids will be saying, "Why can't you change the focal point and DoF on that old JPG picture?"

- Jasen.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Okay, I think this is one area where apple failed, really I such a pain to locate the edge of the clear plastic protector they put on their various products to protect it from scratches while it ships in the cardboard. It usually worse on the wall adapters.

Maybe Steve was looking for the Neiman Marcus kind experience when opening the box itself, but the rest fell short since it a complete frustration getting the product out of the plastic.

Maybe check your close-vision at the optometrist, train your fingers to register fine touch details, and concentrate a bit on your patience. The last two require conscious effort, but it's not hard. All mechanics, watchmakers, crafts people have it. Should be part of living, like listening to music, IMO.

In other words, I didn't have a problem with my last unwrap of an iPhone, but I did notice the clear wrap was tabbed. Subtle = satisfying to solve.
post #9 of 29
I think every company does have packaging department, I really did not find anything special about the iDevices packaging.. I did not feel anything other than my purse feeling a little bit lighter (Actually my credit card bill was a little heavier) when I bought them .

Jokes apart I did read some where else that they made the packaging more eco friendly by using just enough material to encase their products and recyclable, which also mentioned that Apple is one of the most eco friendly electronics companies which strive to use less of hazardous materials. Thats aces in my book.

Secondly.. this was not mentioned in the Stev Jobs bio.. Looks like Walter lazed out on the book lol.. Maybe a sequel is in the offing..
post #10 of 29
It's not an irregular thing to have to badge in and out of a room on any Apple campus. You have to badge in and out of almost everywhere in their buildings, including the room where you play video games on your break and the room where they have all the products on display to test out and play with. So, saying that it's so secure that you have to badge in and out of the room isn't really a big deal.
post #11 of 29
All these are baseless theories about the world most successful and controversial technology company.

If you can't do anything useful to become rich, throw some dirt at the famous....you can definitely fool some people into buying your theories.

I pity each and every person who buys this idiots book by his/her hard earned money......they have just been fooled LOL
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nishanth View Post


Secondly.. this was not mentioned in the Stev Jobs bio.. Looks like Walter lazed out on the book lol.. Maybe a sequel is in the offing..

It is mentioned. Not the room itself I believe but Apples obsession over packaging is.
post #13 of 29
I knew it!
Steve Jobs was "The Man Who Fell To Earth". (I just hope he made back to his home planet ok).
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaurav_1711 View Post

All these are baseless theories about the world most successful and controversial technology company.

If you can't do anything useful to become rich, throw some dirt at the famous....you can definitely fool some people into buying your theories.

I pity each and every person who buys this idiots book by his/her hard earned money......they have just been fooled LOL

They say ignorance is bliss, but in your case it is the opposite.. Well read people are never idiots, they are at-most knowledgeable about some thing. I guess you will never worry about it. Good luck in life.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForceQuit View Post

It is mentioned. Not the room itself I believe but Apples obsession over packaging is.

It is touched upon but not much in detail. Maybe I will go over it again. I just wanted to say that I really did not notice much about the packaging. I was more interested in the device inside. Maybe that was their goal maybe not.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In the room, employees perform "the most mundane of tasks -- opening boxes." It is said that one packaging designer spent months in the room doing just that, opening hundreds of iPod box prototypes trying to get the experience just right.

"How a customer opens a box must be one of the last things a typical product designer would consider," Lashinsky wrote. "Yet for Apple, the inexpensive box merits as much attention as the high-margin electronic device inside."

He goes on to note that showing attention to detail at even the smallest level communicates to customers that "the manufacturer cares about them." Customers then feel a bond with the company, something that transcends price points.

Too bad Apple does not spend at least the same amount of time having their hardware designers completely take apart hardware like iMacs and Mac Minis so they can understand the frustrations of what Mac repair technicians have to deal with. For home users who wish to comment: Inserting a stick of memory does not count.
post #17 of 29
Check out the Lytro employee list; 2 from Apple (pdf):
Vanita Wells, VP of Customer Operations (Apple, Handspring)
Adam Fineberg, VP of Engineering (Apple, IBM, Palm)
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post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Too bad Apple does not spend at least the same amount of time having their hardware designers completely take apart hardware like iMacs and Mac Minis so they can understand the frustrations of what Mac repair technicians have to deal with.

They do. It's specifically designed to be difficult to open.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"How a customer opens a box must be one of the last things a typical product designer would consider," Lashinsky wrote. "Yet for Apple, the inexpensive box merits as much attention as the high-margin electronic device inside."

I fully believe it. When I bought my iPhone I was amazed as the box slowly fell away from the lid. You could feel the suction as the fit between the two was so perfect. And it's still a favourite party trick to place the lid on top of the box, and watch it pneumatically slowly come down to the closed position under its own weight.

Others may laugh, but for me such experiences are legendary.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncletone View Post

I fully believe it. When I bought my iPhone I was amazed as the box slowly fell away from the lid. You could feel the suction as the fit between the two was so perfect. And it's still a favourite party trick to place the lid on top of the box, and watch it pneumatically slowly come down to the closed position under its own weight.

Others may laugh, but for me such experiences are legendary.

I am not laughing, because I am in agreement. And you 'get it', just like Apple 'gets it'. All because of Steve's father telling him to make the paintwork on the backside of the fence just as beautiful as the front, even though no one would notice.
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post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncletone View Post

I fully believe it. When I bought my iPhone I was amazed as the box slowly fell away from the lid. You could feel the suction as the fit between the two was so perfect. And it's still a favourite party trick to place the lid on top of the box, and watch it pneumatically slowly come down to the closed position under its own weight.

It hadn't occurred to me how cleverly designed this was until you mentioned it. I did notice how nicely the lid separated from the box, but now that I think about it, imagine the terrible alternatives.

Imagine if the lid were just slightly too big, and the box would just drop out and plunk your brand new iPhone on the table with a thud. Or the lid might be so tight that you'd need something to pry it away from the box.

The details really do show how passionate Apple is about getting things right.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Too bad Apple does not spend at least the same amount of time having their hardware designers completely take apart hardware like iMacs and Mac Minis so they can understand the frustrations of what Mac repair technicians have to deal with. For home users who wish to comment: Inserting a stick of memory does not count.

We are the 1%. Nobody listens to our woes. Why won't they listen?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Okay, I think this is one area where apple failed, really I such a pain to locate the edge of the clear plastic protector they put on their various products to protect it from scratches while it ships in the cardboard. It usually worse on the wall adapters.

Maybe Steve was looking for the Neiman Marcus kind experience when opening the box itself, but the rest fell short since it a complete frustration getting the product out of the plastic.

It's actually a kind of IQ test
Just make a Genius Bar appointment. They can help.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #24 of 29
Products ordered online are packaged differently than those you buy at the stores. On one hand, it's understandable (padding needed for shipping, etc.). On the other hand, it makes you wonder if Apple too needs to cut corners where possible.
post #25 of 29
What's great is after reading this article I bought a magic mouse which despite having really simple packaging, is actually really annoying to open.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

Can they make the cover more bland and amateurish?

Also, AI, you know there's an easy way to write an em dash on Apple's keyboard layout, right?


What is it with the peanut gallery around here? How about commenting on the article, some information, or shut the heck up?

There's a comment about typos, about Daniel Eran Dilger's lack of video skills (he's an awesome writer -- cut him some slack), and YES I know how to make an em dash, but it often gets messed up on the web did it work? Who cares?

Negativity about anything you think can be done better is just not the way to gain instant cool. We should criticize people who abuse power, but if we don't like a FREE article we are reading, or a blogger who went to the trouble of getting us some information -- constructive criticism should be polite.

Or just go somewhere and PAY for your content and then you can kvetch.

.... I'm just fed up after the hundredth smart ass comment on this website.
post #27 of 29
Amazing tech. I don't even understand how this is possible. This tech must somehow just put an adjustable blur over whatever it is you do not want in focus? Same tech as a PS magnifying glass which you can move around? What if everything in the photo is supposed to be in focus? I'm assuming these new digital files must contain a lot more data therefore substantially larger in size?
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

This tech must somehow just put an adjustable blur over whatever it is you do not want in focus?

No, it just saves the original 'blur' from taking the image.

Quote:
What if everything in the photo is supposed to be in focus?

Then it composites all of the properly focused elements together.

Quote:
I'm assuming these new digital files must contain a lot more data therefore substantially larger in size?

I think they're comparable to RAW files, but I'm not sure.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #29 of 29
Quote:
It is said that one packaging designer spent months in the room doing just that, opening hundreds of iPod box prototypes trying to get the experience just right



I actually think this would be a pretty cool job. If it pays well and you compare it to some of the other crappy jobs you can get, opening boxes would come pretty high on my list of cushy jobs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncletone View Post

I fully believe it. When I bought my iPhone I was amazed as the box slowly fell away from the lid. You could feel the suction as the fit between the two was so perfect. And it's still a favourite party trick to place the lid on top of the box, and watch it pneumatically slowly come down to the closed position under its own weight.

Others may laugh, but for me such experiences are legendary.

I don't like it particularly as it's not efficient. They also seem to have downgraded since the first one. The first one had foam at the top of the box but no more - not even a sim tool or cloth:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpQ3SWEHKZ8

The holders for the phone, cables and phone are very flimsy plastic and card. Cut out foam would be nicer, although might not be as environmentally friendly. The headphones are also very poor - I guess that may be on purpose though to ensure there's a market for 3rd parties.

The iPad box has quite a bit of empty space due to the power adapter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_aQPG-1nc

It's also hard to take out of the box as there's little separation between the device and the box edges.

I think a good example is the Mac Mini:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_el466u24k

Slides out quickly, very efficient use of space inside the box and when you put everything back in the box, it goes in exactly as you took it out.
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