Friday, February 26, 2010

Apple as an electromechanical device company, WTF?

Granted, not obviously more so than other computer companies, but consider not only that hard disk drives and DVD drives are very much electromechanical devices, but also that a broad definition of electromechanical would also include ports, which have both electrical and mechanical force requirements, the cables that connect laptop screens, which must pass through hinges, and the shell and chassis, which must possess sufficient rigidity to prevent damage to the screen and circuit board. Then there's the battery connector, which must maintain absolutely constant electrical connection despite shock, vibration, and corrosion.

So, okay, we're mostly not talking about solenoids and stepper motors, and where we are they're included in major components that come whole from some supplier, but take a closer look.

Apple's designers are no strangers to mechanics. Remember the iMac that hinged like a desk lamp? Did you ever look closely at the hinged arm that connected the base unit of one of those machines to its display? And what about the unibody construction of the aluminum MacBook Air and Pro? Apple didn't just ship the specs off to someone else; they designed the machining process. They also designed their own battery construction process.

Apple is famously more attentive to the physical design of its products than are its competitors, much as it is also more attentive to the electronic components and software, but maybe even more so. Physical design is almost an obsession at Apple, right down to the fit and finish. Perhaps it's a stretch to refer to a Dell laptop as a mechanical device, but to deny that an Apple laptop is one is to fail to appreciate the many hours of sleep lost over issues such as insuring that the magnetic clasp presented just the right amount of resistance to opening, or that the screen would remain in whatever position it was set.

All Apple products, but particularly the laptops, are designed this way, with meticulous attention to the physical characteristics of every component. They are machines in every sense of the word.

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