Believe it or not, there was a time (not too long ago) when the illuminated Apple logo on the lid of a fully open MacBook would be displayed upside down to the onlooker.
This differs significantly from the Apple products of today, where the company’s logo is always shown to would-be onlookers as the right way up — the way the logo is intended to be viewed.
So, what was the original thinking behind such a decision? … and why did Apple reverse its stance on the matter years after the first products it had made the original decision to ship the Apple logo upside down on, had shipped?
Joe Moreno has the answers.
Apple has an internal system called Can We Talk? where any employee can raise questions on most any subject. So we asked, “Why is the Apple logo upside down on laptops when the lid is open?”
In response, Apple’s Design Group noted that “if the Apple logo was placed such that it was right side up when the lid was opened then it ended up being upside down when the lid was closed, from the point of view of the user.”
We were told by the Apple design group, which takes human interface issues very seriously, that they had studied the placement of the logo and discovered a problem. If the Apple logo was placed such that it was right side up when the lid was opened then it ended up being upside down when the lid was closed, from the point of view of the user. (If you’re currently using an Apple laptop made in the past eight years, then close the lid and you’ll see that the Apple logo will be upside down from your point of view, but right side up when opened).
The thinking was that this orientation of the logo better suited the people that were using the product — the customers. Apple had made it so that when the lid of a MacBook was closed, the user sitting in front of the laptop waiting to open would see the logo as originally intended — the right way up.
This, however, posed a problem – (at least, to Steve Jobs). Jobs noticed that – almost instinctively – customers buying the portables were trying to open them from the wrong side, using the logo as a sort of subliminal visual indicator, if you will.
Why was upside down from the user’s perspective an issue? — Because the design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the wrong end. Steve Jobs always focuses on providing the best possible user experience and believed that it was more important to satisfy the user than the onlooker.
Not only that, but the logo whilst in this position would also appear upside down to onlookers. Reportedly highlighting that viewing the upside logo was a problem that would ‘last indefinitely,’ Moreno cites that Apple as a company had other plans for the logo placement on its products and later chose to reverse its original decision, turning the logo the other way round.
This way, the logo (from the user’s own perspective) would appear to be upside down when the lid is closed, yet Apple sacrificed this for the aesthetic appeal of the Apple logo appearing the right way up when the MacBook’s lid was open.
Considering the amount of Hollywood movies and TV series Apple’s MacBooks have made their way into over the last few years, few could argue that the firm’s renewed decision – (from a marketing stance) – was the wrong one to take.