Flat design: How Apple fell in the trap!

Hervé Collignon Blog

Well! am a big fan of Apple in general and those who know me might be surprised by this cynical article about Apple. But when you are Apple, you just can't position yourself as a follower. Apple is famous for setting the future of technology and more importantly, its unprecedent capability to make technology approchable, intuitive and reveal the artist which is in everyone.  So what is the point of what has just been released? Is the last 2 years battle around flat or skeuomorphism design a big mistake into which Apple has been trapped? 

One thing among others striked me while working for IBM. Lou Gerstner was the CEO of IBM and we were at the beginning of the Internet era. Was the browser the future of internet ? Was it the machine itself (Apple might have say yes at that time)? Was it the Operating System? Probably none of them. At least at that time, it was not. What did Lou Gerstner do? He did what Napoleon did right before Austerlitz. He choosed the battlefield where he invited his enemies to fight against. Because he had a good knowledge of the specificities of this battlefield. Similarly, Lou Gertsner invited all his competitors to fight where he envisioned internet would be about. Internet would become a commodity like water or electricity. It was the birth of a new era and internet would be as essential as access to water or electricity. Internet would transform the world, and almost 20 years after, I think we can all agree he was right. The guy was smart (and probably the army of consultant he was surrounded with  as well) and he named this new era "e-business". At that time we even created a logo to identify this new battlefield. Because at the end, the whole concept was to name a battlefield where Lou Gerstner wanted to invite IBM's main competitor to fight with. As you might expect, Netscape (who remember them today?), Microsoft and many others followed IBM on this battlefield, and lost the battle 

Today Apple has just been trapped, and Jonathan Ive as well. I can't tell if it is due to a lack of vision from Apple or if there has been quite a lot of pressure from marketing to make sure Apple's interface would stick to what Microsoft has initiated, but one thing seems obvious to me: if you copy your main competitor, you set yourself as a follower. And that's not good for Apple, nor for its reputation and its brand equity. Wrong message!


I think Apple has the ability and the legitimacy to innovate, to invent new ways to do things. What should they have been doing? Everything but flat design. When you have been the most famous company in the world relaunching your brand using iconic people and 2 words: "Think Different", you just cannot do what the others do… you reinvent yourself.

With all the respect I have for you Jonathan, please get back to your drawing board. Go Johnny, GO!