I’m not a marketing person, but I do appreciate the significance of packaging and design. For example, I think packaging should be representative of what’s inside. When I look at an Apple product’s package, I see something I can describe as “minimal yet beautiful”. Perhaps “functionally elegant” is better phrasing. In contrast, I consider Microsoft packaging somewhat painful to behold. It’s not that the package is un-functional, per say, but I do consider it very noisy. Maybe that difference in Microsoft and Apple packaging is a good study of the difference between Microsoft and Apple consumers.
Apple’s consumers seem to buy Apple products and expect great things. An Apple product package seems to show what’s inside, while making it look very attractive. To contrast: the Microsoft consumer is given the option of navigating reams of packing information. Ideally, this packing information is relevant, and useful, before you purchase the product. But, is it really? Or, is it just noise?
Here’s a pretty humorous (yet cutting) YouTube video on: What if Microsoft designed the iPod package? After having watched this video a couple of times, I get the impression that a frustrated Microsoft employee must have put this together. I may be wrong, but the package “as completely revised by Microsoft” sure looks a lot like official Microsoft packaging,
Update 1: It turns out that Microsoft produced this video as an attempt to examine and communicate the challenges Microsoft has with packaging. This video was developed for Internal use and made it’s way to YouTube and GoogleVideo. For more: Microsoft Confirms it Originated iPod Box Parody Video
On a related topic.. Here is a website that proposes: What If Gmail Had Been Designed by Microsoft? This page brings you through several screenshot mock-ups showing how Microsoft would have tweaked/modified the Gmail client to apply Microsoft branding and layout design. While I think there is some truth in here, I think there’s also some generalization and allegory thrown in for good measure.