design thinking apple

Apple, which is an American technology company that is headquartered in Cupertino, California is a brand name that most of us know about. It designs, develops, and sells electronic products, online services, and computer software. Their hardware products include the iPhone, iPad, Mac Personal Computer, Apple watch, and more. Apple is a well-known brand, but how did it become successful? The answer to this questions is Design Thinking.

All the top brands such as Google, Apple, Airbnb, and Adidas are using design thinking concepts as part of their process. Through the course of this blog, we’ll try to explain how Apple has successfully leveraged the benefits of Design Thinking.

Also Read: How Design Thinking has Revolutionised Five Prominent Industries

Benefits of Design Thinking 

Since design thinking is an empathy-driven process as opposed to problem identification, it is thought of as a solution-driven approach. This has made it a favorite among most business leaders. Let us take a look at the importance of design thinking. 

  • Helps in effectively meeting client requirements

Since prototyping is a part of design thinking, it goes through several rounds of testing and feedback. This means there is assured quality, and the customer is likely to be satisfied with the results. 

  • Helps in tackling creative challenges

Here, we are looking at problems through a fresh perspective. Looking at the problem at hand differently, and brainstorming various solutions allows the company to use a creative approach. Through design thinking, we can gain feedback from the clients and create a valuable product or service.

  • Expands your knowledge

The entire process goes through multiple stages and does not stop when the deliverables are met. By doing so, you can gain feedback and improve your understanding of the clients. You will gain knowledge about which tools to use, how to close gaps, and more. 

How Apple successfully leveraged Design Thinking

When you think of Steve Jobs, you instantly think about Apple’s user experience, and how well thought out it is. He focused on crafting the best quality products and services while focusing on simplicity of design and user-friendliness of their products. Design thinking enabled Apple to reach the greatest heights in the market, and take over the world of technology in all aspects; be it usability, design or User Interface. 

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it instantly became every user’s favorite. The reason for its popularity and market dominance would be how thoughtfully it was planned. The whole experience was different when compared to the other phones in the market at that period. 

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think the design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, and he changed the vision of Apple by applying design thinking principles. The same strategy is being practiced by the brand even today. Although Jobs isn’t with us today, he has founded one of the most successful companies and is currently valued at close to $2 trillion as of August 2020.

A brief history of iPhone (Image source and credits: Trendolizer)

The main reason for Apple being as successful as it is today is the fact that they were able to act on the opportunities in the market in the best possible way. Some of the key factors that were kept in mind were as follows-

  • Keeping their customer’s needs above their own
  • Minimal product designs that customers can use easily 
  • Status Symbol- Apple became a luxury for many
  • Focus on the working of the product without any compromise in their product design and packaging 
  • Focus and simplicity 

An example to prove the above features is the iMac. It has excellent sound design, great quality of the display, and is easy to use. It is design thinking that helped the brand reach the great heights they have today. But what made Apple different? 

Apple – Think Different

Source: Wikipedia

The advertising slogan Think Different was used by Apple from 1997-2002, and it perfectly describes the design thinking approach. Here’s how Apple was unique when compared to its competitors.

  • Well designed products through innovation

As Steve Jobs once said, it’s not just about how it looks but also how it works. Along with a well functioning product, Apple also focuses on beautiful products through innovation and development. Their products tend to create a statement and are bold, and trendy.

  • Excellent execution

The quality of the product was focused on while coming up with the designs. The new product lines were shut down so that the focus could be centered around three main products. Thus, there has always been an excellent execution.

  • Customer experience

One of the main things Apple focuses on is its customer experience. It ensures that all their customers are satisfied with the product and have an unforgettable customer experience. From product designs to stores, everything is focused on design thinking principles.

  • Hiring the right people

Be it the salespeople, the design teams, or the engineers, Apple always focused on finding the right personalities that consumers would deeply connect with. Apple has created its products in a way that they can be seen as expensive, but also unique. The right people made owning Apple products feel more special.

  • Feedback from customers

Since customer experience is a huge part of Apple’s mantra, they have integrated it into the design and development stages as well, with the help of testing and feedback processes. Usability testing and improvement have become an integral part of the product development process.

  • Product strategy

Apple has organized its products into a product family in such a way that there is product dependability. AirPods were connected to the iPhone, and an iPhone is connected to the Apple Watch. This creates a hype as soon as the product is launched, thus connecting the dots backward. 


Apple shows us a clear lesson on how design thinking and innovation can lead a company to reach greater heights. Apple has secured the leading position in the competitive market today, and have placed their customers at the heart of the process.

Design thinking engages the company to think critically and out of the box. Instead of just taking a problem and using machines to solve it, it allows companies to come up with different solutions and approaches. 

If you are looking to upskill and would like to learn more about design thinking, join Stanford GSB Executive Education’s Design Thinking course in collaboration with Great Learning.



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