Back to colorful, is the design of the new iMac reincarnation or evolution?

The heavy update of the iPad Pro and iMac series should be the two biggest surprises at the Apple conference in the past.

The former was given powerful hardware that almost surpassed the MacBook Pro, shouldering the mission of challenging traditional productivity tools; the latter brought a refreshing design-a breakthrough in appearance that has been waiting for 9 years.

Yes, it has been 9 years since the last iMac update.

People often ridicule that technology is based on shell replacement, because the renewal of technological products is often accompanied by a new design of appearance. Even in Apple, which has a super cycle, the 9-year design stay of iMac is rare.

If a teenager was attracted by the iMac in the window when he passed the Apple Store in the second grade of the second grade, then nine years is enough for him to finish college and take a job and take this dream computer home by himself, and the appearance is still the same as that of the past. He maintained the same appearance of love at first sight.

The evolution of the new iMac

If you pay attention to the iMac that has been updated in recent years, you should have noticed that at the beginning of the evaluation, there are always similar evaluations like "Although the appearance remains the same, the internals of the iMac have been completely different".

Sounds like iMac is an immutable old antique? But in fact, the design of iMac has always been the representative of the advancement and boldness in the computer industry. The previous generation of molds can be polished and used for 9 years without looking outdated, which is the best proof.

One of the important reasons why iMac has maintained the same appearance since 2012 and only updated the core components is that Apple has always adhered to the principle of "not releasing products until the time is right."

"A computer that does not look like a computer" is a concept that Steve Jobs established at the beginning of the iMac series, so iMac design updates have always been radical, such as the egg-shaped translucent color shell on the iMac G3 and the unique table lamp shape of the G4. G5 hides the hardware behind the display and so on.

iMac is always the computer that gives people the biggest surprise in terms of appearance design, and the driving force of its design innovation is the upgrading of technology.

Judging from the update of the new iMac, the mature "timing" undoubtedly refers to the M1 chip Apple used on the MacBook series last year.

The M1 chip released last year brings many new features to the MacBook, such as better energy performance, more seamless cross-device experience, etc., but these changes are inherent. Because neither MacBook Air nor MacBook Pro has changed molds, the human eye It is difficult to feel the innovative experience brought by the M1 until the emergence of the new iMac.

"The emergence of the M1 chip allows the iMac to get closer to its ultimate form", Apple Mac product marketing director Colleen Novielli (Colleen Novielli) gave such an evaluation when introducing the new iMac, she mentioned the design concept of the iMac It makes the computer invisible, and the emergence of the M1 chip gives iMac a push on the road of integration.

The most notable feature of the new iMac compared to the previous generation's design is that it is thinner, so light and thin that people can't believe it is a computer. The thickness of the new iMac is only 11.5mm, which makes it impossible to even put the 3.5mm headphone jack on the back and must be moved to the side-the length of the 3.5mm headphone jack is generally 13 mm, which is enough to penetrate the body of the iMac.

At the press conference, Apple shared the secret of iMac’s "weight loss": In the past, the iMac using the Intel platform required a huge motherboard to carry the scattered components such as CPU, GPU, and a large-scale heat dissipation module. The CPU cools, which makes the back of the iMac inevitably bulge.

The M1 SoC structure integrates these scattered components on a single chip, and the lower heat-generating chip performance also allows the size of the heat dissipation module to be greatly reduced.

A series of hardware simplifications brings the most intuitive benefit, which is that the iMac has been flattened with the "bump" on the back since its inception, and the iMac no longer has the charming "back warp".

From curved arcs to straight lines, this is an evolution of the design language, and for this long-lost evolution, Apple has made more adjustments.

One obvious change is that the three-hole power connector on the back of the fuselage that has existed since the G3 era has been cut off and replaced with a more advanced magnetic power connector. The new interface not only makes the back look more modern and concise, but also because the original three-hole interface is too deep (18mm), which does not meet the design requirements of a thin and light body.

The other interfaces of the new iMac have also been greatly simplified. The SD card interface, USB-A interface, etc. have been replaced by the USB-C interface, and the network cable interface has been transferred to an external power supply. The drastically reduced openings make the back look cleaner. .

All adjustments are only to make way for the eye-catching lines on the side. The thickness of 11.5mm is even thinner than the original iPhone (11.6mm). The thin and light integrated body design makes the computer closer to "invisible".

Whether you like the flattened new iMac or not, when you first see its profile, it will impress your mind, just like its predecessors. The visual shock brought by this technology has nothing to do with aesthetics.

The new iMac is not just the side that catches people's attention. From a slightly different angle, the colorful back is another highlight of the iMac.

iMac: I'm not making "silver", Jojo!

If thin and light is the design evolution of the new iMac, then the return to colorful is a design cycle.

Putting the new iMac and iMac G3 together, this sense of inheritance will be even stronger-the same colorful body, colorful keyboards and mice in the same color as the body, and the same inner revolutionary meaning.

Looking back at the first-generation products of this iMac series, iMac G3 has too many stories to share: the return of Jobs, the key to saving Apple, the pioneering work with color design, and so on.

Our starting point is not engineering orders, but people themselves. iMac is not concerned with issues such as chip speed and market share, but human emotions, such as how to establish an emotional connection with consumers.

Jonathan Ivey, the designer at the time, hoped that G3 could convey positive emotions to consumers, rather than the sense of isolation produced by high-tech. This vision led to the colorful body and back handles on the G3 being regarded as classics Design elements.

The colorful color matching design integrated with the keyboard and mouse can visually convey active emotions to users. The handle on the back makes people want to touch it. These designs unconsciously shorten the distance between consumers and the product.

Emotions can become the theme of the iMac because computers were an expensive and unfamiliar commodity for mass consumers at the time. Suspicions and fears of the digital age are common emotions, and there are a lot of beige square machines. It deepens the negative impression of mass consumers that "technology equals coldness".

▲ iMac G3 conference, unveiled at 4:40

The Bundy Blue iMac appeared to "appease" these consumers who were frightened by technology. At the iMac press conference at that time, when Jobs unveiled the iMac, there was endless applause.

Sales proved that the emotional strategy of the iMac G3 was successful. The G3 sold 278,000 units in six weeks. A total of 800,000 units were sold that year. It is the fastest-growing computer in Apple’s history. Said that iMac is their first computer.

G3 rescued the Apple that was in danger at the time, and the panting Apple also began to polish the soul series again.

iMac is the first product named with the "i" prefix, and it is also Apple's first colorful product. However, when iBook, iPod, iPhone, and iPad successively applied the design of color casing, the subsequent iMac did not Did not escape the black and white silver design.

In subsequent iterations of iMac, it became more and more professional. The original cheap plastic case was replaced with textured metal. The arcs and curves were replaced by more tough lines, and the color also changed from representing the youth. The colorful becomes a matte metallic primary color.

The iMac, which has embarked on the professional route, makes it farther and farther away from ordinary consumers. The cold metal primary color is three-point thin and seven-point away. It is inevitable that ordinary consumers will unconsciously stay away. The distance between iMac and consumers is constantly increasing. The ground is pulled away.

The return to colorfulness may be a good way for iMac to attract consumers' attention again.

Emerald green, bright yellow, red orange, sapphire blue…The 7-color iMac at the press conference is the most pleasant moment of the conference atmosphere. Highly saturated colors can arouse people's positive emotions. , This color law has not expired today, 23 years later.

In the interview after the press conference, Apple explained that the color application of the new iMac is to make the iMac more dynamic and more accessible to the people. This design concept is the same as the G3, which is to mobilize the emotions of users to bring the product closer.

In the context of the pandemic, working from home has become the norm. Apple needs to face the negative and negative emotional problems of users. The iMac is Apple's new answer sheet.

Lighting up the desktop with a colorful body, the computer is no longer a cold tool, but an indoor decoration that exudes vitality, thus mobilizing people's enthusiasm for work and entertainment.

In addition to the abundance of colors, Apple's upgrades to cameras and microphones also show that Apple is using a combination of design and technology to make remote office more comfortable and to "pacify" people's emotions.

A review by Fastcompany mentioned that color can convey pleasant emotions, and the colorful body of the new iMac will make home office fun again.

Bloomberg also pointed out in the report that when companies and schools in some countries need to repurchase new equipment after the epidemic, the colorful iMac that can convey positive emotions is likely to become their new choice.

In other words, the return of iMac to color after 23 years is a reincarnation of design and an accidental coincidence of the needs of the times.

Apple is "changing color"

Let us refocus our attention on the color of the new iMac, and you will find that the color change of the new iMac is the most thorough of all color products.

In addition to the 7-color case of the iMac, the matching accessories are also replaced with corresponding colors, including keyboard, mouse, touchpad, magnetic power cord, and a USB-C to Lightning adapter cable. With at least 42 SKUs, Apple is still confident in its excellent inventory management.

Five years ago, silver iMacs, MacBooks, and space gray iPhones or iPads were representative impressions of Apple products to consumers. Apple's restrained use of colors and simple design conveyed a "professional" brand image to people.

But now, youth and vitality have become Apple's new brand theme. Thanks to the maturity of the aluminum alloy shell coloring process and the excellent management of the supply chain, Apple has become more and more colorful in the mainstream products of each series.

Laurie Pressman, deputy director of the Pantone Color Research Institute, once explained consumers' perception of product color.

The audience's perception of the company starts from the color.

Now that consumers pay attention to their own personalized expression has become a new consumption trend, Apple puts aside black and white and returns to color, also to create a more dynamic brand impression for consumers.

With the replacement of the iMac with a colorful case, the products of the "i" generation have basically formed a colorful team, but what about other products? As the successor to iBook, MacBook Air (MBP inherits PowerBook) may be the next model to return to color.

9to5Mac pointed out in a recent review that the appearance of the new iMac has left a lot of room for imagination on the MacBook Air. Since the two have a similar color history, the same technological breakthroughs, and the same consumer group (for ordinary consumers rather than professional users), the reason for the iMac to switch to a colorful shell is also applicable to the MacBook Air.

Under the colorful trend, will the MacBook Air be a product of Apple's "design cycle"? Judging from the principle of "no product will be released until the time is right", the timing of the MacBook Air update in a short period of time is not yet ripe, but the timing is newer than the M1 technology or the old molds accumulated in the inventory, probably only Cook I just found out.

Higher and higher

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