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The Intersection of Ideals with a Product Development Strategy

Apple's keynote less than 48 hours ago lit the Internet ablaze with renewed talk of the time honored (no pun intended) wristwatch.

The Apple Watch is a stunning product with a high-tech take on a historically classical instrument. It looks to have been designed with astrology, horology, and watchmaking front and center. The keynote showcased feature upon feature, advertising dozens of ways it would simplify life and deepen interpersonal connections.

Through the lights and magic however, Apple could not (perhaps did not) hide their pride... Pride in the most intense focus on the intersection of design and craftsmanship in any product to date. 

What is Product Design?

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Internally, the Apple Watch hardware design is extraordinarily thoughtful. Externally its craftsmanship is gorgeous. The software stack that interacts with this hardware is no less remarkable, allowing nearly infinite possibilities through an ecosystem of custom applications.

"Design" for Apple has always been front and center, yet it has never shone better than with this new device.

In a wired article, Inside the Shop of the Last Great American Watchmaker, the mechanical watchmaker Roland G. Murphy Watch Company discusses the work of his team in Pennsylvania, one of few remaining watchmaking companies that create timepieces exclusively by hand.

I was both fascinated and floored by the thought of hand-making something as small, complicated, and precise as a wristwatch, but It was the last paragraph that made me stop and think:

Murphy doesn't build watches for himself or his buyer. He builds for an ideal: that things should always be better than what’s necessary. “We don't design on the limit,” Murphy says. “Think about the Brooklyn Bridge. How much weight do you think it had to bear when they built it? Some horse carriages? Some pedestrians? Today there are giant semi trucks going over it all day, and it supports that weight because it wasn't designed to the limit. That’s something we take pride in.” And it’s something you won't find anywhere else in America.

Regardless of how successful the Apple Watch becomes, regardless of whether their device is outpaced by new technology in two years, Apple has shown us what it means to be proud of their new products' design and craftsmanship. 

They appear to have designed to the same ideals as Murphy. They have once again simplified the what could have been an extraordinarily complex product. For the first time, they've melded the classical with the high-tech. And, for the time being, it seems they've crafted a product that is better than what is necessary. 

Product Development Companies

Precise design, simplification, and outstanding craftsmanship are all ideals that guide Murphy. They are ideals that made Apple wildly successful. And though we may not all be product designers, inventors, painters, or craftsman, one thing is certain: We can never be sure where or for how long our work will be used in this world. 

Keeping these shared ideals in mind while developing our products could be just the touch of genius that makes a difference.