Monday, October 22, 2012
Smart Design is a Half Success
We all tend to think “excellent design” when we talk about apple, but it is not always the case. Apple had designed some failure products as well. For example, the Apple Puck Mouse in 1998 and the Newton in 1993. Picture 1 illustrated the revolution of Apple’s mouse, and among them, the fourth one is Apple Puck Mouse. Compare with the previous Apple Mouses, the Puck Mouse has a unique round shape which results in the main failure of this product. It is uncomfortable for holding it in hand, and customers also found difficulties in finding the single mouse button. Although the simplicity of this product may have decreased logistic costs, the complete product is a failure and had been killed in January 2000.
Another example is the Newton which was meant to be an intelligent "personal digital assistant" which would decipher handwriting and carry contact details and in essence be the first Apple iPhone – but years before the iPhone.  However because of the high cost of the product and the handwriting recognition problem, the Newton was killed soon. From the picture, we can see how clumsy the Newton looks like compare with the iPhone. The design of Newton was not logistic friendly enough too. It is not as streamline as iPhone, and the projecting part on the top of it will contain extra space during delivery which induces extra costs.
Nowadays, more and more companies have realized the importance of product design based on the objective of logistics efficiency. An effective product design can enable logistical efficiency, an inefficient design can cripple it. [And the relationship is particularly crucial in a global logistics environment where all inefficiencies are magnified in importance.  And here are some good suggestions for improving the performance of product design:
1. be aware of the linage between product design and global logistics efficiency
2. Give logistics a "seat at the table" during the design process
3. not only focus on squeezing cost of supply chain, but also aware the truth that design is also a main cost driver. 
Then what's the tipping point of choosing a more logistic friendly design instead of a more attractive product?