One of the companies discussed here that's long been known for connecting with consumers via very appealing design for its devices is Apple. There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.
Blake Bos: Hello, this is Blake Bos with The Motley Fool. I'm sitting here today with Isaac Pino, Fool industrials and consumer goods analyst.
We're going to be talking about design, right now. It's very important in industrials, and in consumer goods, for that matter. The consumer seems to be more design conscious these days than it was in the past. I was wondering if you could give some of your viewpoints on where design is headed.
Isaac Pino: I think in the past, you look at a company like Nike (NYSE: NKE ) , perhaps; they've always been in the forefront of design, so in some respects design has always been there. It's always been an important part of reaching out to the consumer and producing the "hot" items that are going to be attractive to the everyday consumer.
But I think it's starting to spread across a lot of different companies. They're starting to realize that it's an important investment to make, from the outset. You might look to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) to set the tone in this direction.
Designing the iPhone, designing the iPod, it trickled to the iPad as well, and all their products. It was incredibly important. You had Jony Ive really pushing this, and Steve Jobs as well; the top-down approach.
The quote that I would like to put out there, Yves Behar is a fascinating designer who works for SodaStream (NASDAQ: SODA ) , a company that's starting to disrupt the beverage industry. They need to introduce their product to the market and see a rapid adoption, and compete with the likes of a Coke and Pepsi.
One of the things he said is, "Great design increases the speed of adoption for products that otherwise people might just disregard, or not take interest in." I thought that was a fascinating way of putting it.
You see that reverberate throughout all sectors of the economy. You have Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM ) saying the number one priority is aesthetics, because it's all about the customer experience. You walk into the store and it's unlike any other grocery experience, frankly, that you're going to have no more of the dull, corporate lighting and the boring aisles, but an interactive display.
Blake: You want to feel good while you shop.
Isaac: Exactly. I just think consumers are gravitating toward that, so companies understand that that's important. It's going to touch every different sector of the economy, and it's starting to touch mine in a big way.
I think GE (NYSE: GE ) introducing some of their health care appliances, making them easy to interact with for consumers around the world who might not be exposed to using a heart monitor or something like that; it has to be simple, it has to be effective, and it has to be approachable for the average citizen.
It's not so much that design wasn't important in the past, it just wasn't as important in the industrial economy. But now that manufacturers and retailers are starting to touch consumers in ways that we never saw before, I think it's becoming increasingly important.
Blake: Definitely. It's a way to set yourself apart from the competition. You can look at automobiles; still the number one factor for buying, I believe, is aesthetics. People aren't going to buy a car that they don't like the way it looks; it's as simple as that.
Blake: It could be the most reliable, best car in the world, but if they don't like the way it looks, they're probably not going to buy it.
Isaac: The BMW, one of the chief designers there came out and said that buying a car is almost never a rational decision. It's always going to be driven by what you really gravitate toward. That decision, at the end of the day, if it was rational, you might get a low-end, reliable, stable car that is not going to be the hot rod that you really want to take home to the driveway. I think that's a great point, within autos at least.