The shift in big and small

The shift from modernistic to post-modern, physical to mental, basic to added value can be seen in big and small. What’s interesting is how this shift of focus is scattered around all possible areas, taking place at different times. Many areas are still in the modernistic, physical, basic stage, and will still be for some time ahead. Other areas, like fashion, have come very far in their ”from physical to experience” development.

Somewhere along the path it seems like most areas cross this line at a specific point of no return. Let’s take a very small and concrete example, two USB plugs. One of them is just a plug, the other is ”something more”.

The lower plug is a generic white USB plug which obviously has been designed to be a good plug among other plugs. It seems that some consideration has been made to its shape, it’s fairly harmonic and fairly easy to grip. But it is not branded, it does not promise any additional qualities (like gold-plated contacts) and apart from being clear white it is as ordinary and generic as a plug can be. I would say it’s a industrialistic plug. And as a marketing person would say, a non differentiated plug.

The plug on top is, of course, an Apple plug. It has a strong modernistic expression of straight lines and radii, but it is actually harder to grip than the generic one. But it is definitely a part of Apple’s brand, both in terms of quality (the glossy sleek plug feels a lot more ”expensive” than the generic one) and modernistic aesthetics. It does not accept only to be a plug: it embodies Apple’s questioning of what things should be like, and takes active part in building the overall Apple experience. Even the cord, which is equal to the one of the generic plug, feels nicer, because of the context that this plug provides! A very postmodern plug! With a unique position among plugs!

Apple has always had a very high quality on their various connectors and cords. But somewhere along the way they took the step from just making ordinary plugs and adding experience value. Plugs and cords that tell the brand story in a way that you can even enjoy. The power adapter for laptops has been consciously designed with a strong expression since the transparent flying saucer design that came at the end of the last century. Cords and connectors have been one of the ways, communication channels even, for Apple to show and execute its values.

Still one wonders, how was the decision taken, to add experience value to simple connectors and cords? What was that meeting like?

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