Apple, Inc. - A Case Study in Successful Exploitation of Design and Innovation

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Some of the world’s strongest consumer products companies have achieved this success by harmoniously integrating technical innovation and distinctive product design. Worldwide brands such as Bang & OlufsenTM are built on consistently offering highly innovative consumer products incorporating unique, memorable design elements. It can be debated as to which is more innovative: the technical performance of the Bang & OlufsenTM products or the awe-inspiring design that captures the imagination of the consumer.

Apple, Inc. is another example of a strong consumer products company whose most recent product successes result from the successful integration of innovative technology with design innovation. This article will review recent examples of products and IPR registration strategies in which integrated technological innovation and innovative design are intertwined and then exploited to generate product sales and market power.

I would submit that one of the most transformative consumer products of the past 15 years is the Apple, Inc. iPodTM. The product was launched at retail in October 2001, and since then more than 300 million have been sold. The mere mention of the iPodTM brand likely instantly creates an image of the product in your mind, but a review of the product shows that the design is (apparently intentionally) incredibly simple and clean. As seen below in Figure 1, the product is a simple rectangular body having a rectangular display screen occupying the bulk of the top portion of the body and concentric circles forming the controls for the unit on the lower half of the body.

Originally published for the Design Protection Conference 2012.

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