“These past few years, we in the design community stopped thinking of the original Macintosh and Sony Walkman as the epitome of good design. They were heroic little things. The gesture of the product shape was beautiful. But by now, design was shifting away from singular pieces of hardware and toward systems and experience. The iPod was the most modern expression of the Apple device. ITunes was really taking off, and consumer software started behaving in a highly connected manner: Devices connect to the program, people want to add content, and then they synchronize and share with friends. Consumers define when and where and how.
“This was the missing connective thread. The Sony Walkman MP3 player flopped because it was a nightmare to operate as a system. It was a giant pain to rip your CDs. Apple taught everyone about the value of a well-made system. It’s more than functionality. It’s now about the connection.”
Mark Rolston, chief creative officer at Frog Design, Wired, October 2013
You can argue about which products have the best design, or the best software (personally, I hate iTunes and prefer the visual experience of the Zune software), but you cannot argue against the power of the connected system. It’s a primary reason why Apple has come to dominate in the consumer device world, why Google has been able to surge past Apple in the mobile market (although not with quite the tight fist of Apple’s music device stranglehold), and even to some degree Microsoft’s dominance of the gaming console marketplace due to a combination of platform, relationships with key game developers, and an online marketplace and community.
That’s surely the vision that Microsoft has as it pushes the SharePoint community toward Office365, Windows Azure, and a not-yet-solidified app model and community. It’s directionally correct – now its just a matter of execution.