Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And the world's best user experience creator is...

A data-driven view on Steve Jobs' design contributions to user experience:

Steve Jobs is cited as an inventor on 313 patents and is the first listed inventor on over 10% of them. Almost all are design patents, running the gamut from MP3 players to power adaptors to the stairs in the Apple Store. Pretty interesting for someone with no formal design or technical training, much less the CEO of a major corporation.
Designer Jonathan Ive was named as co-inventor on 64% of those 313.

Design patents cover non-functional ornamental aspects of the implementation. They are used to protect functionality-related aesthetics of the product: the look, the feel, the touch. Here's a couple of examples of Steve Jobs' patents:

(D638,835. Electronic device with graphical user interface  -- looks like iPhone 4):

(D641,021. Keyboard):

Compared to utility patents, the process for getting design patents is short and inexpensive. You can align it with the launch of a new products, so that copycats have harder time to sell knock-offs 1-3 years after the initial introduction. A good strategy for a market leader in consumer products/services.

tags: patent, apple, innovation, creativity, interface

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