Ok, everyone’s seen that fantastic video parody of how Microsoft would have ruined the iPod packaging. I’ve also seen numerous comments how this video “perfectly captures how clueless Microsoft is”. This kind of “they suck so we’re cool” commentary usually irritates me, but in this case I had to admit that I felt the same way. That was a sign that I should probably engage in a moment of reflection: How true was this? And could I personally justify my stance?
I had to admit that part of me secretly liked the overblown nature of the package design: Ooo…specs! Ooo…features! And as much as this style of package design represents something of the lame commodity design you see at the big box retailers: it works on people. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the parody designer had done a great layout job on all that text. Far better than what you normally see on a package. I’m not saying that it’s better, mind you…I’m just saying that it didn’t suck. That’s part of what makes the video work: the competent execution of an opposing idea is something that I have to respect.
And what about different audiences? I once read an article that compared the package design preferences of Windows users versus Mac users. Windows users, for whatever reason, preferred packaging with pictures of concrete things and people. Mac users were far more likely to pick packaging with abstract graphic design. I unfortunately have lost the original article link, but the thought is this: Microsoft knows who they are designing for. They may not be designing for you and me, but I wouldn’t so carelessly assume complete incompetence on their part.
For example, did you know the video was commissioned by the Microsoft packaging team? They do get it. I had assumed, like everyone else, that this had been the work of an anonymous genius somewhere in Appleland. Oops.
I’m reminded that “thinking different doesn’t necessarily mean your thinking is better”. That’s an assumption we tend to make, and it’s not always right. Apple has a kind of rock-n-roll creative empowerment vibe, positioned in opposition to the Establishment that Is Microsoft. I don’t want to write off an entire segment of the population as irrelevant to me just because they use Windows. This starts to get into Platform Wars territory, so I’ll shut up now :-)