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In Defense of Color and Round Edges

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have been lurking for quite a while on these boards, and I have to say that the majority of posters are intelligent and interesting. However, my impression from reading many of the threads regarding the upcoming iMac redesign is that anything with color in it is either passe' or something not worth implementing. I have to strongly disagree. I think color is important in Apple's product design, and if it is thrown out altogether in favor of white and chrome as the consistent (but only) look, I think this will hurt the company in terms of consumer perception... and sales.

I am a lime iMac DV owner, and a Windows expatriate. After years of struggling with the rigidity of Windows, 98SE was the final straw. I couldn't take it anymore. I'm not a "pro" user, but use my computer primarily for writing and surfing the Web. Although I can pull the guts out of a IBM-compatible machine and replace parts all by myself, my preferred idea of upgrading is buying a new computer. The iMac caught my attention when it first came out, but it wasn't until it was available in a variety of colors (along with color-coordinated peripherals) that I decided to purchase one. Yes, I'm serious. The reinvigorated Apple line was enticing, the specs were solid, the all-in-one form factor was a real plus, and the DVD player was icing on the cake, BUT it was the color that finally hooked me. The same held true for my iBook purchase. I own a Tangerine model, and am eventually looking to replace it with a Key Lime. IMHO, I think that version of the iBook was the perfect combination of solid ergonomic design and computing power, the specs of the IceBook notwithstanding.

Something about working on a colorful computer added to the sense of fun involved in the purchase and use of my iMac. After two years, I can say that my computer is still Really Fun. As we know, the Windows experience, and the often boring boxes they run on, are definitely Not Fun. So, why go back to the boring days of beige boxes, where all Macs looked the same? I can't possibly be the only "consumer line" Mac user that feels this way. (I would guess that most "pro users" wouldn't care one way or the other--they're more interested in performance than style.)

Now, I will agree that the color aspect of Apple's industrial design has been a double-edged sword. While attracting computer users like me who appreciate stylistic flourish, the fruit flavors did create the impression that the iMac (and later the iBook) was a toy and not a real computer, although those of us that used them knew otherwise. So, I can understand why a wild color palette may not be the way to go at the present time. Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian were certainly the result of a few too many bong hits.

Still, if the iMac doesn't have a range of color choices, as well as superb "touch me, feel me" industrial design, then how will it stand out from the pack of competitors? I'm not convinced it will, despite (hopefully) strong specs. A variety of colors, perhaps more subdued, *should* be part and parcel of the design of the new iMac. The ice/metal combo might appeal to pro users, but how many of them would even consider using an iMac as their primary computer? Not many. However, consumer users like myself *are* vitally interested in an all-in-one machine, but if it turns out to be an iPod on steriods, I'll be very disappointed. More importantly, I'll be much less interested in feeling the need to upgrade. I can hear the pro users now: "don't you care about specs? Specs, Specs, SPECS!!!" Um, yeah, I do, but because the need for speed isn't as important to me, the computer's look figures into the equation in a much greater way. And... I happen to like color.

Are there others out there that feel this way, or am I a voice in the wilderness here?

[ 12-14-2001: Message edited by: Gandalf the Semi-Coherent ]</p>
post #2 of 22
the trouble is that the original iMac colours were really meant IMO to grab peoples attention and let them know that Apple was still around, and get as much coverage as possible. It could be that Apple will settle on a more professional look now that iMac has been pretty successful, and we won't see any striking design colours until Apple is desperate again?
Then again an LCD imac might be just the thing to whack some bright colours on to get the media in a frenzy and then as the range becomes established, refine the look into a more subdued professional look.

[ 12-14-2001: Message edited by: MarcUK ]</p>
post #3 of 22
I agree that the colors certainly make the computer more interesting, but I think given the trends in style, that Apple knows that color is becoming slightly passé. At least, big, bright colors are.

Even though the icebook doesn't have any color (except the glowing apple?), you can't say that it's not damn sexy and something that made you want one when you saw it. I think that Apple wouldn't completely ditch the color thing, because having a variety of colors makes people feel more "unique" when they buy their computer (though I don't know how many people wanted to feel unique enough to go for the god-awful flower power and dalmation designs).

In my opinion, the new iMacs will use color, but the tones will be very subdued and used perhaps like the trim on a house; only used to add a hint of color rather than being plastered all over the same thing. What looks better: a white house with green trim, or a house painted entirely in that same green?
post #4 of 22
I liked the colors too. I had a Tangerine iMac and loved it, especially the color. I just think that right now the colors, flavors, or whatever you wanna call them are played out. Everyone copied Apple with the colors and it just got old after a couple of years. The iMac needs a change, and part of that change should be getting rid of the colors like the iBook did.
post #5 of 22
My wife, who is a very smart, rational scientist, was blindly devoted to her tangerine imac, and only could be convinced to upgrade when I found a great deal on ....yup, a flower-power imac.

So, certainly some people (perhaps a minority) are happy about colors.

Fish
post #6 of 22
I'm expecting color choices to continue with the next iMac; they just won't be near-neon, that's all.


Cheers,

Mark.
post #7 of 22
come on people....where are the picutures? :confused: <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
post #8 of 22
I think the colors have come to an end.

Look at the iBook, the iPod, the Airport, the PowerMac, and the PowerBook.

The "colors" was just another stage in Apple history. Today, Apple uses metal, and totally clear plastic. Six years ago, Apple used beige plastic, and then began using "frosted" clear plastic, which has been used in all the iMacs.

Trends come and go, but I think that it is clear from the look Apple is setting forth, clear and brushed metal is the way to go. Anyone agree?

Oh yeah, and white too!

[ 12-15-2001: Message edited by: erbium ]</p>
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post #9 of 22
Originally posted by Gandalf the Semi-Coherent:
[quote]]However, my impression from reading many of the threads regarding the upcoming iMac redesign is that anything with color in it is either passe' or something not worth implementing. I have to strongly disagree.<hr></blockquote>

Finally! I did no longer hope someone besides me would say it.
Yes, I was a fan of the colors. The "smurf" G3, the keylime-iBook and the blue dalmation iMac are the best-looking computers I have ever seen. Unfortunately I never had the money to buy one of those.

I am writing this on my Powerbook G4 Titanium which is a nice machine, no doubt but looks dull and boring as hell. Same for the mud-colored (quicksilver, my ass) G4 minitowers. The Icebook looks ok but underwhelming still.

The colors were a bold statement, that boldness is gone, Apple is back to daily business - and it shows.
post #10 of 22
I too agree that the neon-like "flavors" would not be the way to go any longer (though I do own and enjoy a lime iMac DV), but I really liked the second wave of colors (sage, indigo, ruby). I saw a mockup somewhere on these boards of the new iBook in those colors and they actually looked very nice. I think dark, subdued colors in that vein would be a nice touch on any new iMac, as well (though I doubt it'll happen) as on the IceBooks (which, I suppose it wouldn't be any more). Just MHO.
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post #11 of 22
[quote]Originally posted by SledgeHammer:
<strong>I too agree that the neon-like "flavors" would not be the way to go any longer (though I do own and enjoy a lime iMac DV), but I really liked the second wave of colors (sage, indigo, ruby). I saw a mockup somewhere on these boards of the new iBook in those colors and they actually looked very nice. I think dark, subdued colors in that vein would be a nice touch on any new iMac, as well (though I doubt it'll happen) as on the IceBooks (which, I suppose it wouldn't be any more). Just MHO.</strong><hr></blockquote>


Yeah, Sage, Inidigo, and Ruby were far and away the best colors - subtle, hip, and (dare I say it) elegant. I'm one of those people who's not sold on the "Snow, the new Beige" school of design. I can see Apple having a compromise - an LCD iMac with a mainly Snow casing and Sage/Ruby/Indigo accents, maybe? Keep everything minimalist, just splashes of color to remind everyone that this is still an iMac.

A completely different option: About a year and a half ago, before he was cancelled, Mac the Knife had a mockup of a Black & Red iMac - looked distinctly badass. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Maybe that's something Apple could try - fewer rounded corners, but a palette of edgy colors. We all know how much SJ loves black...
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post #12 of 22
Ruby, Sage, Indigo are the best colors ever. They are elegant and they make the computer look really nice. This white everything is no better than beige. At least keep indigo and graphite for the next iMac. If it is only snow, it will just look like a white computer. iMacs were meant to stand out and be different. An all white LCD iMac (maybe with some silver) would look nice but with a tough of indigo, it would capture the spirit of the original iMac and would grab peoples attention.
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post #13 of 22
It seems to me that Apple's color schemes do come in waves.

The current fashion for Apple's products is metal and clear plastic. The only Apple product currently shipping with colors other than metal and none is the low-end iMac. It's a reaonable prediction that the next complete product reivision which will hopefully come in Jauary will include only these subdues tones. If Apple releases a G5, I predict that it will be polished metal, just barely smooth enough to see yourself in but not clear enough to see the zit on your face, covered in clear plastic.

The iMac I hope to be a new LCD model in Snow and Metal colors.

The iBook should keep its factor and color, andebenfit from nothing more than a processor upgrade.

The PowerBook will continue being its wonderful titanium self.
post #14 of 22
I think the new style of Apple design is classy but cold. The TiBook and iceBook practically scream "I am a serious computer!" The old iBook and iMac color designs were much more approachable "touch me, feel me!" (sometimes looking like a toy isn't all bad). I have a soft spot for Sage especially and none of the colors were intolerable (except maybe Key Lime).

It would be a disappointment of the first order if the new iMac was as soulless, cold, and uninviting as the new 'books.
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post #15 of 22
I always thought a cool approach would be instead of having huge colors on the machine itself, which I think is a bit tired and played-out, if the actual Apple logos themselves on the machine (well, this new iMac, anyway) came in colors.

Inside the box where your keyboard, mouse, software, warranty, etc. reside sits a little pouch or box with a snap-on Apple logo in every iColor that's ever existed, while the rest of the machine is white/clear/silver.

Bondi, blueberry, tangerine, grape, strawberry, lime, graphite, indigo, ruby, sage, snow (maybe this is the "default" Apple logo, already on the computer?), key lime and yes, even flower power and blue dalmation.



Did I forget any? Don't think so...

That would be nice. A nice tie to the past in a 1" or so area, and the customer isn't locked in to one. He can change it whenever he wants a change, like many of us do with our desktops, icons, etc.

Or maybe, just maybe (okay, THIS is a cool idea):

New iMac comes in white, with the logo, CD/DVD slot ring and speaker grille all removable and designed to be replaced with snap-on colored versions.

Looking at my iMac right now, from the front, it would be cool to have the ability to change the grille, slot ring and logo (on top) whenever I wanted.

Lots of people would collect all of them, or certainly more than one or two, so it would be a little income generator too.

Just a bit of splash of color, nothing overwhelming or gaudy, but just enough to still satisfy the color crowd. Everyone else can just leave those components white.

They could be sold in a little box at CompUSA or wherever, AND the actual Apple retail stores and through their online store.

Yeah, I know...isn't economically feasible and all. "But all those colors...lots of them might never get used and then you're back to the whole color thing again, Paul!".



I know. Spare me, okay? Just an idea...

[ 12-15-2001: Message edited by: pscates ]</p>
post #16 of 22
you should change your name to Gandalf the VERY-Coherent .

Nice post!

I agree with you, I loved the colors and had the iBook SE came in Tangerine I would have chosen that over the graphite (I didn't like the Lime however) but I am still happy with the graphite. I would love to see the new iMac in colors, but I must add my voice to those who say colors are more or less dead at Apple. I am sure that most of us will be pleased with the new iMac regardless of the color not just becasue we are Mac fantaics, but becasue they will be very appealing to anyone except those hard core PC users who could not be PAID to use a Mac (and since coming back to Mac after a short stint with a Compaq, I do not think I could go back to Windows and beige boxes if I was paid. (unless it was enough for a Ti book, then I could live with it for a few days :eek: )
post #17 of 22
I got to thinking about the whole color/design thing going on with the mac. I looked around the web at some prototypes/fantasy mock-ups etc. And I thought about another favorite design family of mine, concept cars. I've always liked concept cars for the way they use materials. Some are horrid, but a lot of the time you see textures/colors and materials used in fresh and exciting ways.

What if the new iMacs were not so much colored, but textured! My idea was to have a shell with consistent -- silvery/clear/icy/chrome/brushed metal -- cues around the screen, speakers, vents, back of the machine, buttons, and ports. Then the rest of the plastic is produced in a way that it can be layered with another material in places, and simultaneously in others layer over said material. In some places a material might be exposed to the touch, and in others it would appear beneath a clear shield.

Imagine a TAM style design with its nice volume of plastic below the screen. On the TAM's all plastic design it's just grey plastic/steel. If the iMac took that and colored it, it still doesn't either make that surface much more interesting, or otherwise minimize it for the sake of sleekness.

So? We take our TAM style shell, and use adhesives to layer its, at places coverable and at other's enclosing, case with textured materials. I thought a rusty brown leather or tan suede; the black crinkle finish of old Nikon cameras; and, a dimpled white golfball surface, would all make interesting visual and tactile surfaces, against the metallic imac frame. The iMac itself is a kind of easle/frame for the material. The shape layout and materials of the screen, speakers, buttons, slots, vents and ports, and the icy back are all the same on each machine. But the plasticy area on the front and wrapping around the sides is something very different to see and touch on each machine.

Whaddaya think?

[ 12-16-2001: Message edited by: Matsu ]

[ 12-16-2001: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
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post #18 of 22
I had texture and surfaces inspired by these from theapplecollection in mind.

<a href="http://www.theapplecollection.com/design/pcproto/Picnic.html" target="_blank">pic/nic</a>

<a href="http://www.theapplecollection.com/design/macproto/macathena.html" target="_blank">athena</a>

Apple could also use some funky rubbery soft brightly colored neoprene for the kids. A bright red, and a bright blue. There, that's five new flavors.

[ 12-16-2001: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
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post #19 of 22
Then I shall purchase an iBook, come January 7. Or if they mangle that one too, perhaps a Dell.

post #20 of 22
Please Apple, no more tuti-fruiti colors schemes.
I work in one of the world's largest semiconducter companies and I could not imagine walking into a meeting with a lime green or bright orange powerbook. In my opinion, anybody who recommends Apple decorate their computers with these tacky color schemes probably works for Dell or microsoft.

The TiBook is the most high-tech, coolest looking notebook around. The new hardware styling should also be somewhat high-tech and cool.

- Mark
post #21 of 22
I agree with you--the pro line should not be colorful--titanium/grey, black, or a very dark blue would look good, but stick to the business look.
I still like color for the consumer line, but they should offer a pro color as well like they did w/ graphite.
post #22 of 22
Well, at UT whenever I see a tangerine iMac is just [i]fits in[/it] so much better than all the other colors. It must be something about everybody being obsessed with orange and white, but it looked plain better. And when my old HS got a lab full of Ruby iMacs, it just looked sweet. Much better than our beige labs.
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