iPhone: A Biography

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Minimalistic design conveys the message of simplicity, where less is more. It uses streamlined shapes, monochromatic colors and clean lines and has caused an evolution in fashion and technology.

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If minimalism and technology had a love child, they would name it the iPhone. It’s  bloodline is so evident that a genealogy company is not needed to know it’s makeup. Anyone can see that the iPhone gets its looks from minimalist design and its smarts from technology. But which of it’s attributes make each rendition extremely popular and an irresistible product? Let’s take a closer look.

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In June 2007 the innovative personal computer company first ventured in the smartphone market and the star was born. The product was met with much anticipation and caused many consumers to reevaluate the purpose of a mobile phone. The announcement and release of the first-generation iphone was similar baby Simba’s majestic introduction in the Lion King. But did it live up to all the hype?

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According to Anthony Karcz, a Forbes magazine contributor, “The iPhone was unlike anything that had come before it. It combined a mobile phone and a music player in an easy to use package, leveraging (some might say cannibalizing) the popularity of the iPod.”

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If minimalism is the grandmother of the iPhone, then Steve Jobs is undoubtedly the grandfather. Jobs, the CEO of Apple, not only unveiled the iPhone to the world but was also instrumental in it’s design. Walter Isaacson writes in the Smithsonian magazine that “Steve Jobs’ interest in design began with his love for his childhood home.” Job’s home was designed by Joseph Eichler an architect with a minimalistic aesthetic inspired by , Frank Lloyd Wright.

Jobs appreciated great design and simple features at an affordable cost. This inspired the incorporation of minimalistic design into technology which allowed the iPhone to be seen as an approachable and incredibly human device.

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In his article, “Extreme minimalism” - iPhone Design Philosophy in a word, Taehoon Kim explores the iPhone’s minimalistic design. He takes minimalism beyond just basic shapes and explains how it relaxes the brain and simplifies perception.

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In today’s society when information overload is constant, a simple design makes things easy to remember allowing the mind to quickly adapt to the product.

The three minimalist themes that Kim relates to the iPhone’s success, are basic shapes, symmetry, and structuring in terms of grouping. All the application icons are squares with soft edges and equal dimensions which fulfill the basic shape and symmetry aspects. The layout of the icons are four in a row and equally spaced the checks the grouping box component. There is a single menu button at the bottom center of the front, and the back is slick with the Apple logo in the middle. This recognizable interface eases the mind to focus on the varying pictures of the icons and the features themselves. Moreover, the simple function of a single touch of the icons is as simple as it gets; heavy scrolling, pressing, or double tapping are virtually eliminated. The ease of use allows the user to dig deep into the iPhone’s technology.

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It is a pointless exercise to try and figure out whether design or technology is behind the iPhone’s success. Without one, the other will surely fail. It can have a billion apps, but without a simple design, it is not usable. But without all the features all in one place, well, it’s just as a pretty paperweight.

The user-friendly features and functionality make the iPhone extremely popular, not just with our generation, but with all generations, from one to ninety-two.

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