Is Attempting To Manufacture Products Like Apple A Fruitless Endeavor?

Why do so many companies aspire to be like Apple and what’s stopping them from doing so?

Among the biggest brands in the world, Apple has revolutionized the way people interact with personal tech and the way many professionals aspire to create products, innovate their business, and build brand-and-consumer relationships. The design and functionality of their products remains a driving force for Apple’s popularity.

Inspiration Vs. Imitation
When a new computer, phone, tablet, and now smart watch, is unveiled by the company, it’s unmistakably recognizable as an Apple product before it’s even turned on. Naturally, many other manufacturers have aspired to apply Apple’s approach to product design and development into their own goods.

While there are many entrepreneurs and business leaders that are clearly inspired by Apple, there are so few that have been able to make the same approach work for them. Certainly, you can only go so far with imitation when you’re striving for innovation, but the reason why it’s so hard to approach Apple, or other super brand of product, may be much simpler than that. It may really just boil down to capability and resources, and when it comes to prototyping and production, aspiring to reach a superior level of quality, creativity, and a constant focus on the end user, is never a futile approach.

Design Innovation And Production Capabilities
As Apple continues to develop and release products, they’re providing the rest us with new insights into the design and production processes. If you followed the development of the Mac Pro, you may remember a video that Apple released showing how the computer was manufactured: taking a basic aluminum form, and running it through a number of production methods, from impact extrusion to, precision CNC milling, to robotic polishing.

The Mac Pro enclosure is back in a CNC center where the IO slot is cut out This is likely the same machineoperation where Apple cuts the trademark chamfer on the top of the cylinder Point of Interest notice the end mill and holder are being reflected off of the freshly polished MacPro surface yet the pocket profile has already been cut from the protective film My best guess is that the original plan was to simply machine through the protective film but the cutting action of the end mill wound up tearing the films edges dinging up the surfaces slightly The solution was to add a step where the film was removed from the areas to be machined Details like this multiplied a thousand times across the Apple manufacturing empire are why Apple products are the vanguard for high-volume AND high-precision

A Powerful And Exclusive Combination
Needless to say, there are a number of steps involving the development and integration of Apple’s computer processing components, but the real capabilities worth considering are the sophisticated machining and prototyping technology that Apple maintains as part of its local capabilities. Also needless to say is that virtually no other product manufacturer has the combination of focus, established brand recognition and loyalty, and near limitless resources to produce a high level of product in ample quantities.

Hope For The Rest Of Us
So what’s the real takeaway? Don’t try to be like Apple, because you can’t? That’s not a bad conclusion to make, but instead of abandoning all high ideas and hopes to revolutionize and produce on Apple’s level, focus on the drive to innovate rather than imitate.

Here we see a batch of enclosures racked for anodizing In typical anodizing an acid etching step takes place to throughly clean the part With such high surface finish standards though Im betting Apple either very lightly etches or used very gentle etching compounds to maintain the mirror-like qualities they spend so much time producing

Equipment, Materials, Automation That Drives Better Design
The average manufacturer can still find value in Apple’s model by focusing on their own ability to make better and better prototypes close to home, whether it’s through CNC capabilities, additive manufacturing, and other advanced production equipment. Exploring use of new and better materials is just as important in revolutionizing a familiar product and draw consumers in a new way. Regularly examine your production processes for new ways to automate. When you free up time for production, that leaves you with more freedom to consider the design and development of your products, which is something innovators are always thinking about—obviously long before they had the resources to buy 10,000 CNC milling machines.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, have you looked at Apple’s production capabilities and wondered how you could apply that type of innovation to your own products?

Article Sources:
http://www.core77.com
http://www.core77.com
http://atomicdelights.com
https://medium.com

James Spader
 

Comes from a long line of American manufacturers and small business owners. His passions have always been journalism and World War II history. When not working, he enjoys cooking and competing in amateur chess tournaments.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Sara

I didn’t realize that other manufacturing companies (not necessarily those that are competitors of Apple) had been learning lessons about the design and manufacturing process from Apple. I suppose you can take lessons (i.e. philosophical or procedural, ect.) from any process that is similar in nature. For instance, if you are a small advertising agency, you can study what the large ad firms are doing and learn about trends or styles of design and writing.

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Donna

Apple stands at the pinnacle of the smartphone food chain, even though its crown has been taken by Samsung, which now sells more devices. The reason? No manufacturer has the fame and status that Apple has earned through the years. One thing others can learn from Apple is the importance of good design. Apple has always been about design. Their phones are always sleek and made of premium materials, offering a certain level of elegance that can’t quite be replicated. Their phones have gone as far as becoming a status symbol, of sorts.

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