The iPhone is the Concept Car


Ever wonder why auto makers don’t release concept cars as production cars? (Wow. I sound like Andy Rooney.)

Well, I have. I’m not really a car guy and sometimes I do end up at car shows and see the most amazing cars but rarely do they end up in the showroom. Some recent examples are:

As far as I understand it, the car industry creates those cars to showcase their potential design direction for that car or a potential model. The issue is that when you see one of these online or in a magazine you want it. Case in point, when the Cadillac 16 there were a myriad of NBA players that wanted the vehicle and offered top dollar for it. And Cadillac did nothing.

I asked a friend of mine, Andy, the closest thing to a car nut that I know and he told me the following.

. . .there are also practical constraints.  Most concept cars don’t even have engines, and hardly any would pass crash tests.  There are rules about bumper and headlight heights, etc that are often violated in concept designs.  So the short answer is, concepts aren’t subject to the constraints of the real world.

In the end what you end up with is a bunch of users excited about buying a car that will never be for sale.

Apple understands that quality design is what sells. They also understand that excellent design is polarizing and that you’ve succeeded if half love your product and the other half hate it; Apple’s mouse is a perfect example. (Indifference is the killer.) As with all apple products (except the mouse and a few others) the iPhone is something a designer would buy. When you’re designing your site, your home, your iPhone app . . . anything; make sure that quality is the main focus and take a stand. (Yes. I know that every company can’t design like Apple. And there is a lot of room for improvement.)  Design is viral and unless your product is of quality; it is not recommendable. And that my friends, is the kiss of death in today’s online ecosystem.

1 comment

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  • I agree, a good design denotes quality in a product. We as consumers don’t always know why that is and it can be seen as shallow or consumerist, just to want something because it looks nice. But what it stems from is the fact that companies that can afford to make quality products can also afford to have them quality designed and built. A large part of what we see as good design is quality design planning and execution.

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.