ipod cases: why?

ipod case

Do you own an ipod? Do you have a case protecting it? If so, is it one of the hundreds of incredibly ugly cases out there? Now, my question to you is, why? Why buy a beautiful ipod and dress it up with an ugly case 24/7 ? Now I understand the idea of protecting it, but what I don’t understand is if you are so proud of how beautiful it looks, why make it look even uglier with an ugly case at all times? Sure you can pull it out and be proud there’s not a scratch on it, but how often do you actually do that? What happens if you just let your ipod get scratched up? Will it somehow get a nostalgic appearance? Will it get scratched up beyond usability? Or will you keep buying the new one that comes out each year. Do you buy covers for your cell phone, jewelry, camera, car, watch, shoes, laptop, etc? Sure for some, but the ipods created a phenomenon about protecting it. Sure it easily scratches..perhaps Apple did this on purpose so you’d buy the new ipod each year. Perhaps it’s about value, but jewelry, cell phones, cameras, watches, cost $$. Take for example shoe($100+). The function is to protect your feet,(ipods to play music) but you also buy it for style, but your not going to wrap a plastic bag around it. Shoes wear, get dirty, get wet, get scratched, and you buy a new one eventually. I’m not saying you don’t need a case, I’m just curious why else. Anyhow, just food for thought…

6 Responses to “ipod cases: why?”

  1. jasono Says:

    My initial thought is that it has something to due with the iPod surpassing traditional human|product interaction — Using a product to achieve a particular goal. With the iPod it is different. People form emotional bonds with these devices, much like they do with cars. They give their cars and iPods names/engravings, buy them clothing (car covers & iSocks!!), and take great pride in this relationship (show them off/talk about them). It’s probably some combination of exceptional product design (other mp3 players aren’t as successful here), the feelings it evokes during interaction, and perhaps an extension of how you treat yourself or what you view your personality to be. It is fascinating to witness and exhibit (I’m included) this behavior, though.

  2. tango! Says:

    Jason,
    thanks for the note…
    Another question I might pose here would be, if the design of the ipod is so emotionally beautiful, how or why is it? It’s a rounded brick. and now a round flat brick. How is it different than othermp3 players?

    I’m not saying it’s not beautiful, i just ask how is it beautiful. When I ask people, what do you think of the ipod there responses are: its’ simple, beautiful, nice, sexy…
    Now when I ask then HOW it is those, they have no response, no reason, besides, steve jobs saying it.

    In short, I believe the reason the ipods been considered so jewel like is because of their amazing marketing team, and steve jobs pitching it as sexy, simple, amazing everywhere you hear the word ipod.
    Is it really that simple…have you ever tried to turn off the shuffle feature, or turn off the backlighting, or simple other features such as these. The ipod is simple becuase it lacks capability, but seems simple becuase of the instant access to well, play, stop, fast forward, and backwards. Other mp3 do this, but the other ones also have quick buttons to other features.
    take for instance a piano, 88 keys… If i made the keybopard 5 buttons, is it more simple? take the keyboard you are typing on. Perhaps alll the f1-f12, alt, ctrl, brackets buttons are rarely used, so, lets take them away..sure its beautiful that i dont see them, but when I want or need to use them for that brief moment, it’s hard to get there.
    Anyhow, i could rant on and on about this and have no final opinion. I love the ipod, as many do, but I kind of question “capability vs usability” or is it the same thing. It’s kind of the same question about a mac vs pc. …I’ll stop my rant here.

  3. jasono Says:

    Hey, this is a good question.

    Yep, their marketing campaign is pretty memorable and unique. We are social creatures and if enough of us buy these, then pretty soon we’ll all want one. Historically we can probably find numerous products with similar attention. However, if you ask about the beauty of a product most people will probably only consider the exterior and not the interaction with the interface. They are separate things to most anyway. You’d have to ask them about how easy it is for them to do some of the tasks you describe above. Additionally, most people blame themselves when they have usability problems. Compare this with folks complaining about these issues aloud. They probably understand it’s not their fault and blame the designers and developers. I would also guess that most people who do have problems not only blame themselves, but they keep it to themselves because the marketing campaign and everyone else raves about its simplicity. Or maybe the simplicity of the iPod design masks these potential problems with the interaction so that it’s less intimidating, unlike some of the other mp3 players with more buttons.

    I would imagine most people can’t explain why they like something because they simply haven’t thought about it enough, or they don’t know how to verbalize it – It is difficult. Their responses are almost always going to be what is said in the commercials, or another iPod owner, or from Jobs mouth because that’s where they’ve heard it. Plus, it is easier to just regurgitate than create.

    Speaking to the design of the iPod exterior, the attention to detail (glass-like texture, the button/screen placement, close fitting seam, rounded edges, simple color, and shiny back) raise my confidence and trust in its ability to perform because just looks quick and able to perform its primary function. The simple appearance on the outside also makes it feel a little more organic or naturally forged. The smooth edges and exterior are comfortable in my hand (except 1st Gen iPods!) and give it a less intimidating appearance that begs for me to pick it up. These qualities make me want to take care of it. I’ve invested time and a good chunk of change.

    I think for a lot of people exterior beauty outweighs the interaction issues. That is until something just as simple comes along that handles those problems. People also judge a book by its cover. For example, I know there are phones that serve as mp3 players, photo & video cameras, and planners, but the complexity of their exterior design just tells me I’m going to have an even harder time figuring out the software. I’m not interested investing my time in them. That is until something simpler comes around or enough people buy this new device. 😉

  4. tango! Says:

    hmm. good points.
    As for people not looking into interface designs, this whole story loops again to macs vs pcs. It’s funny how many mac ppl explain how macs are better because of their exterior design and interface. Is the interface really that much better… Some things are much easier, but much like the ipod, some things are just so complex. Yes, 1 button is simple, but on a mac, now I have to press the apple button and a mouse button to get the options, thats 2 buttons, and on a 3 button mouse, you just press 1 other button.
    haha, this is a great topic to dive into.

    Perhaps I’ll make an ipod cover that give it 10 other buttons, and somehow hack it to make those buttons really work. Reminds me of those camera that have “normal”(hides 70% of stuff) and advanced” (shows all) interface options… unitl then, I’m still ipods less because of the proprietary software…i like drag and drop like mobiblue has…no software to bug with, just plays everything and doesnt convert the music to some apple format.

    As a designer, I have tons of friends that use macs, but my friends never give me good enough reasons to switch, besides I look better.
    I’ve given them the ipod, oxs vs windows, and several other examples, but its come down to, if apple is that much better, why do they only have 4% market share…haha.. and I know they just want to say ppl are stupid but they cant, cause it’s not fashionable apple to say that.

  5. jasono Says:

    I’m a designer, too. I use a PC by day and head home to Mac I guess ultimately I just like the Macintosh because I can appreciate the design and I don’t have any issues performing tasks that I might otherwise do on a PC. Besides, I just get personal satisfaction (that sounds bad) when I work on it. That could be due to me spending long hours on a PC daily where I’m more likely to run into problems. Obviously both have their own type of problems, but Macs seem easier to fix to me.

    Anyway, I’m particularly interested in the development of Boot Camp because I don’t think people should necessarily be tied to several machines if one can do it.

    Keep up the interesting posts. I’m enjoying your blog.

  6. tango! Says:

    j,
    Yeah, bootcamp should do wonders.. I was playing with a macbookPro for sometime this week. Great feel and design, though it gets absurdly hot.
    I’d prpbably use a mac if I were pure 2d, but I do 3d work, and frankly, macs only have a few progs for that.
    PC or mac…its really depends on which one you started with and learn first.

    Thanks for reading my posts…This is a new blog, please share it with yoru friends, and keep posting comments, or send me any goodies you find.
    _t

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