Out of the Box

20 11 2014

Apple’s packaging is brilliant and a lesson for packaging design. The boxes are about as small as they can get and all the parts are very thoughfully placed and pieced together in the box in the most efficent and space-saving way possible.

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Apple’s products and packaging is mass produced. The company sells millions of products but even though they are mass produced they don’t look like packaging just needed to protect a product on its way to customers. You feel like you’re holding a quality product, hand-made for you even when you open the box. If you take out an iPhone or an iPad the packaging then seems to be the perfect lid line of your purchase.

Unboxing …

Unboxing is the unpacking of new products, especially high tech consumer products. The product’s owner captures the process on video and later uploads it to the web. No wonder the phenomenon’s principal exponent, Andru Edwards – chief executive of the specialist, Seattle-based website unboxing.com – calls it geek porn.

Indeed, his website’s dedicated unboxing video channel, Unboxing Live!, boasts the tagline “Vicarious thrills from opening new gear.” (“It’s similar to an experience you’d have in a strip club,” Edwards said. “It’s stuff that you’re lusting over – you can’t have it, but you want it.”)

See an example of a fanboy who just got his brand new iPhone 5S Gold from an Apple Store in St. Louis. The video was published on September 20, 2013 and had about 2.5 million views until September 2014.


(3:33 min)

Some consider the popularity of this practice is due to the ability of showing the product exactly for what it is without any adulteration advertises usually make around the product. Being able to see what you are getting can contribute to the decisional process. So unboxing is a very special kind of advertisement done by many fanboys each time a new Apple product comes to life.

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Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology, How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy Is Wrong, is an expert in neuro-marketing, “where science and marketing meet”. He claims the unboxing phenomenon is a result of so-called mirror neurons.
“Mirror neurons mean, in principle, that when I observe other people doing things, I feel that I am doing the same,” he explains. “When I scratch my head, and you watch me doing it, the same regions in your brain will be activated as would be if you were actually scratching your head.”

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (published October 2008)
is a bestselling book by Martin Lindstrom, in which he analyzes what makes people buy.

Apple’s packaging …

Apple’s classic packaging design makes it the unboxing market leader, but Lindstrom cautions against crediting the company with originating the trend. “Let’s not be fooled here – the concept of the portable player came from the Walkman, and the MP3 player was around for six years before the iPod arrived. The iPod wheel was invented by Bang and Olufsen in 1986, but it forgot to put a patent on it.

“Apple adapts a message very cleverly, about five minutes before it breaks through, and I have great respect for that. They’ve done it with packaging design, too, but in Japan you could have seen beautiful concept packaging design as long ago as the Seventies. It also appeared in the fashion and perfume industries long before Apple went into it.”

Apple and its rivals have made unboxing a mainstream pursuit, but they’ll have to be careful: if too many of us discover that we can just stay in and watch a video, will we still bother to buy the company’s beautiful gadgets?

The environment ….

Since 2008 Apple publishes environmental reports for all its products. Is there any competitor doing so? No, and sorry for the dig at Samsung.

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Smaller packaging means smarter packing.
Making thinner, lighter, and more material-efficient products not only reduces their carbon footprint and conserves resources, but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced during transportation. Apple ships more and more products per trip, and the savings is adding up. Along with designing the iPhone 5s box to be 41 percent smaller in volume than the first iPhone box, Apple also redesigned the iMac packaging. The slanted shape of the iMac box makes it easier to stack more on each shipping pallet. So more products can be shipped in one trip, resulting in fewer emissions.

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60 % more iPhone 5s boxes in each airline shipping container saves one 747 flight for every 416,667 units Apple ships.

Climate change …

Optimizing the packaging is one side of the coin. The product itself plays the more essential role in the fight against pollution of any kind.

There are still climate change deniers.
This is what Tim Cook told them at the annual shareholder meeting 2014 in Cupertino:

If you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock.

Greenhouse gas emissions have an impact on the planet’s balance of land, ocean, and air temperature. Most of Apple’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions come from the production, transport, use, and recycling of its products.

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Apple seeks to minimize greenhouse gas emissions by setting stringent design-related goals for material and energy efficiency. The charts (source Apple) above provide the estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the iPhone 3G and the 5S over its life cycle. Apple put the focus on reducing emissions during customer use which usually is a quite long time of 3 years according to Apple.

Summary …

No one spends more time with an Apple product than an Apple customer. By minimizing or outright eliminating many harmful toxins, Apple ensures that each product is safe to use, year after year. Power cords are PVC- and phthalate-free, touch screens are arsenic-free, cases and enclosures are BFR-free. No other company does more to keep its products free of so many toxins like Apple and the company does it already since decades.

So it’s not only better for the people who use the products but also better for the people who make them and better for the environment.

Related links …

Publications on Apple’s website …

Apple’s Environmental Responsibility

Articles on iNotes4You’s blog …

The Hidden Price

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility

About the iPhone

About the iPad

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.


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