What is the role of the designers and engineers at Apple?

Product Development
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Table of Contents
Introduction 2
Company Overview 3
Product overview 4
The Products design of Apples’ iPhone 4
Concept development 5
Identification of the needs of customers 6
Establishment of target specifications 7
Analysis of competitive products 7
Generation of product concept 8
Selection of a product concept 9
Refining product specifications 10
Performing economic analysis 11
Systematic design of product 12
The essence of capacity planning in product design and development 12
Lessons learned 14
Conclusion 15
References 16
Product Development
The development of a new and highly competitive product in the market is a prerequisite of the success of any company. The process of product development does not exclusively refer to the development of novel and revolutionary ideas but is always a result of thinking along unique and new lines. These areas of thought are often those that do not have any pledge to conventional techniques and traditional in the choice of materials and design of the new product. An essential aspect in product development is product design because the plan process provides clarity on the functions of the products to satisfy the needs of customers (Hestad, 2013).
Apple Company is one of the most successful technological companies in the world today. The success of the company is attributable to its ability to provide high quality and unique technological devices such as laptop computers, mobile phones, and portable music devices such as Ipods (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The main objective of this report is to detail the project development process of the iPhone with reference to the product design and development of iPhone 6.
Company Overview
Apple Inc. is a US based public company, which is in charge of the production of high quality computer software and technological electronics. Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ron Wayne and Steve Wozniak, Apple Inc. currently owns about 359 retail shops with about 50,000 employees on a global scale. The success of the company is founded on its concentration on innovation (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The company employs a team of highly skilled and highly talented individuals whose main role is to participate in the innovation process, design and manufacture of high technological electronics that define competition in the market today. As a leader in the development of technological apparatus, Apple has become the largest information technology company. The popularity of its products such as iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iMac has demonstrated the role of product design in enhancing a company’s competitive advantage on the global scale (Rodriguez et al., 2015).
Product Overview
Since the debut of the iPhone in 2008, Apple has been able to amalgamate qualities of iPod Touch with those of a 3G mobile phone. The device has the ability to facilitate internet ready communication services such as email, maps, social networking sites, and web browsing (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The phone is also synchronized with an iTunes library. Some of the rapid successes of the iPhone are attributable to the availability of factory-installed application created by third party developers. In 2014, Apple unveiled a 4.7 inch Iphone 6. Other than its ability to synchronize iTunes in the phone, iPhone 6 comes with a larger screen characterized with a new iPad systems design. The device has an ultra-thin body, which makes it portable hence meeting the demands of the customers that focus on a lighter but classy smartphone. In terms of its internal memory, iPhone 6 comes with different storage capacities such as 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB. The selection of the best smartphone in the market is dependent on the ability and the needs of the customer. Furthermore, iPhone 6 has a faster processor and biter camera making it one of the best communication devices from Apple (Rodriguez et al., 2015).
The Products Design of Apples’ iPhone
One of the unique features that determine the level of competitive advantage of Apple Company is in the design of its products. The company embraces creativity and innovation throughout the design process and this can be said to be the mean reason why the products are tailor made to satisfy the needs of its customers (Hestad, 2013). As a trend in working in accordance with the interests of its customers, every year, Apple unveils a new and innovative product with the aim of strengthening its competency compared to other companies in the smartphone manufacturing market (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Concept Development
The success of the company is based on its ability to allow it employees to be involved in the development of a concept about a product that the company envisions to produce to its customers. This means that the product design team has a responsibility of furnishing the department with ideas in the process of developing the concept. At this stage, the role of the employees and the senior management is to express their interests in the creation of a new product. At this stage, the complete visual concept of the products is yet to be realized considering that the stage focusses on the discussions on the possible ideas about the product and making sketches (Hestad, 2013).

Figure 1.0 Concept development framework
In the mobile phone manufacturing industry, a good concept is crucial for the realization of a competitive advantage in terms of profit margin, market share and customer base. The process of designing a product begins with the identification of the company’s target market, existing products that are competitive, the definition of product specifications, the selection of a product concept and conducting an economic analysis to ensure the development of a sustainable product outline (Swan & Zou, 2014). The role of concept development is to provide a company with a foundation for product design and development. If the concept development process is conducted in a poor way, it undermines the efforts of the company towards the realization of a competitive advantage in the market (Swan & Zou, 2014). The popularity of Apple is derived from its ability to develop user friendly but high quality mobile phones such as the Iphone. By the time the company was envisioning the development of iPhone6, IPhone 5 was already in the market. The need to produce an additional brand in the market was founded on the need to not only satisfy the demands of its customers but also to ensure that other competitors such as Samsung and Huawei were kept in check (Rodriguez, et al, 2015).
Identification of the Needs of Customers
Effective concept development and product design begins with identifying the relevance of the envisioned product to the satisfaction of the needs of the target customers. At Apple Company, these needs are often identified by interviewing potential purchasers, focus group discussion through observation of the existing trends in purchases among the customers (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014). Furthermore, the company also engages in detailed research initiatives as a way of identifying the needs of its customers. The essence of research and development in the identification of customer needs happens because there are a myriad of needs that even the customers may not be aware of (Hestad, 2013). It is through research and development that the companies are able to develop and understand information upon which the performance, weight, and service among other specifications of the products are assessed.
Research and development in product design is also crucial considering that it is a way through which a company is able to analyze the existing products in terms of its ability to satisfy the needs of the customer. At its production, IPhone 5 was considered as one of the greatest mobile phones ever produced by Apple. However, the dynamic nature of human needs with reference to demand for a mobile phone with higher storage capacity, ability to synchronize with existing softwares and better security measures necessitated the design and the eventual production of IPhone 6 (Rodriguez et al., 2015). Prior to the design of the product, is crucial for a company to organize the needs of its customers in a tiered list with a relative ranking value given to each need and specification. Through such a process, it becomes relatively easier for the company to determine the most crucial aspects that must be integrated in the new product (Hestad, 2013).
Establishment of Target Specifications
Following the identification of the needs of the target customers, it is the responsibility of the senior management and the team in charge of the design and development of the product to determine the target specifications of the envisioned new product. In as much as the process of identifying and reviewing the needs of the customers is a function of marketers, the involvement of designers and engineers is often to establish product specifications (Swan & Zou, 2014). These specifications are often the qualities and attributes that are desired by the management to be part of the new product with reference to existing technical constrains. At this stage, the expectation of the company is for the designers to facilitate the generation of preliminary product concepts. This is followed by the refining target specifications to ensure that they are in agreement with the realities of technical, manufacturing, and economic processes (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014).
Through the establishment of target specifications, the role of the designers and engineers at Apple Company is to ensure that the design process of iPhone does not exceed the expectations of the market and the ability of the company to finance the whole operation (Rodriguez et al., 2015). Focus at this stage must therefore include a determination of the ability of the envisioned product to not only satisfy the needs of the customers but also satisfy the objective of the company in terms of the realization of higher sales that translate to acceptable profit margins in terms of the company’s financial performance in the stock market. The cost of producing the design must not exceed the cost of the product in the market (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Analysis of Competitive Products
The process of establishing target specifications can also be characterized by analyzing competitive products in the market. For Apple Company, the main competitors on the global market include Sony, Samsung and Huawei among others. Through an examination of the products of these companies, Apple, with the assistance of its designers and management, often considered the attributes that it should emulate and those that must be improved in the new product. Furthermore, through such analysis is it becomes relatively easier for pole to identify the shortcomings of its competitors and this explains why it is crucial to develop a list of areas of improvements as a way of ensuring that new product developed is superior to other in the market (Hestad, 2013).
The superiority of a product emanates from its design, appearance, weight, and performance. From an elaborate perspective, it is notable that the process of analysing the products of a competitor is crucial since it provides an orientation to the designers and provides them with a starting point in their role to produce a new product (Swan & Zou, 2014). The process of analyzing products does not only focus on the products by the competitors but also on the products by the designing company. Different generations of iPhone share similarities in terms of their appearance and this identity distinguishes the iPhone from other mobile phones in the market. An in-depth analysis of existing products provides the designers with a beginning platform. Instead of beginning the design process from scratch on each project, the evolution of designs dictates that subsequent products in that market must be built on the failures and successes of existing products (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Generation of Product Concept
Throughout the design process, the role of the designers and engineers with advice from the management is to develop different product concepts as a way of illustrating the types of products that are technically feasible and that would meet the requirements of target specifications (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014). Through an identity analysis of the appearance and the functionality of the envisioned product, it is the roles of the engineers to engage in the development of a preliminary concept for the architecture of the product. Furthermore, the incorporation of industrial engineers is often to depict the possible styling and layout alternatives that the new product can possess. This is followed by a process of selecting the best preliminary design and the building of nonfictional appearance model of the candidate design (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Apple Company targets customers of different backgrounds in terms of the economy, age and fashion. This means that it has the responsibility of designing its products in ways that they satisfy the desires of the all the target customers. The provision of varieties of Iphone 6 is one of the approaches that the company uses to ensure that it maintains its competitive advantage (Rodriguez et al., 2015). Through the process of generating the product concept, it is the role of the engineers and the designers to ensure that the preliminary concepts are in accordance with the dynamic nature of the target market.
Selection of a Product Concept
The selection of a final concept that will define the design and the development of products are often conducted through an evaluation process that is characterized by tradeoffs between the attributes of the preliminary concepts. At Apple Company, the process of selecting the final concept is often a preserve of the key executives, the team of designers and engineers and in some situations, the company samples its customers to bring their input in the selection process (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The candidate designs are soften used in conducting additional market research. Through this approach, the aim of the company is to acquire additional feedback from key customers or as part of its showpieces in focus group discussions. The suggestions acquired from the selecting team are incorporated as a way of maintaining the focus of the company towards the realization of customer needs in its products. The essence of the selection process emanates from the desire among the designers and the management to make the design process and the development of a new product as an all-inclusive process, which appreciated and incorporates the views of its stakeholders (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Refining Product Specifications
The process of refining product specification is founded on the inputs of preceding activities. The ultimate specifications are the results of the tradeoffs made between technical feasibility, projected selling prices, expected service life, and existing financial limitation of the development project. One of the outstanding specifications in the development of mobile phones is the essence of light products concerning the new luggage problem, which makes it important for consumers to acquire products that are inexpensive, lighter in weight and attractive (Hestad, 2013). However, despite the relatively lightweight of IPhone 6, the mechanisms need to meet all the desired qualities of its customers and the main causes of an increase in the selling price of the company’s products (Rodriguez et al., 2015). This means that it is the responsibility of the company to ensure that in the process of incorporating the demands of its customers, it does not expertise loses, as this will lead to a reduction in profit margin despite increased sales.
Inasmuch a customer demand are the most essential aspects in the development of a new product, it is the reasonability of a company, such as Apple, through its management to strike a balance between the needs of the customers, the ability of the company to meet the need and the sustainability of these needs. Whenever there is a conflict in design attributes or when there exists technical challenges that may affect the selling price of the envisioned product, the company has the responsibility of abandoning lees desirable initiatives. This is realizable through the modification of the design process in favor of other benefits of the new product (Swan & Zou, 2014).
Performing Economic Analysis
The process of developing a product with target specifications requires a consideration of the essential economic implications of the design. These implications are often regarding the expenses in the development of the design, the cost of manufacturing and an estimated selling price. It is through an in-depth economic analysis of a product that a company can ensure that the product is necessary and this will facilitate the essence of the remaining part of product development (Swan & Zou, 2014). The process of estimated in the selling price of the possible product is based on the prevailing market conditions, the economy of the target market and attributes of the target customers. These aspects define the ability of the company to sustain the production of the product in relation to the profit margins expected. An economic model of IPhone 6 and a review of the expected development expenses with regard to the expected benefits to the company and the customers is currently being developed (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The efforts of the design team if to ensure that the resulting products are in accordance with the needs of the customer and the ability of the company to sustain the development. This makes it essential to consider the financial performance of the company in its past sales and expenditure. In addition, through research and development initiatives, it becomes relatively easier for the company to envision growth since it facilitates the development of cost effective measures towards product design and development (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014).
Planning for the Remaining Product Development Project
A complete development of the concept, which informs the design of the products, provides the management with a platform of preparing a detailed developmental plan that is inclusive of all the of activities, the resources, expense and the developmental schedule that is marked with milestones, which are essential in tracking progress of product development (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014).
Systematic design of product
Upon completion of concept development, it is the role of the marking team to begin the process of developing additional product options. The role of the designers and engineers at Apple is to ensure detailed development of product architecture (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014). This will entail element of detailed design and the necessary engineering done for every component of the product. This stage defines aspects such as materials, finishes, and tolerances, which are documented with drawings or in the form of computer files (Swan & Zou, 2014). The development of prototypes is crucial at this stage of product design since they provide designers with a technique of rapid prototyping. Being one of the most developed technological companies in the world today, Apple Company uses three dimensional (3D) computer models as part of rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies. This facilitates an easier reprocess of translating the design into a real product with exact specifications.
The Essence of Capacity Planning in Product Design and Development
Planning forms an essential component in the process of determining the design of a product’s capacity. This is because a company assesses it potential for producing products over a specified period through this approach. This is an indication that, through capacity planning, the management of a company can be involved in the development of long term and short-term plans with reference to the prevailing economic conditions in their target market (Swan & Zou, 2014). Capacity planning demands that the processes involved in product design and development are sustainable. In Apple Company, capacity planning in product development is considered a necessity because it helps in the determination of the limit of output in relation to the cost of operation (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014). Decisions involving the capacity of a company, in terms of its human resource and financial capability, are often important considering the long-term consequences and the possible ramifications of the choices that a company makes (Rodriguez et al., 2015). The process of determining the capacity of a company involved in manufacturing of products such as Apple is often based on three important inputs. These include the capacity that requires determination, the amount of products that will be needed, and the time when the products will be required. For effective realization of capacity planning, Apple Company often seeks for a medium between long-term supply in relation to its capabilities and the predicted level of long-term demands (Rodriguez et al., 2015).
The determination of the medium is often founded on the existing sales of the current products in the market. Through an understanding of the level of demands of the existing product such as IPhone 5 in the market, it becomes relatively easier for Apple to estimate the long-term demand of its new product IPhone 6. This makes it easier for the company to plan for any forms of changes in its capacity, in the levels of customer needs, environmental and even technological demands. During the design process, an essential set is to be engaged in a process of evaluating capacity planning (Ulrich & Eppinger, 2014). This often requires the management at Apple Company to consider both the qualitative and qualitative aspects that define the operations of the business. These aspects include the personal preferences by the management, public opinion and the prevailing economic factors (Swan & Zou, 2014).
When perceived in relation to the design and the development of products at Apple Company, capacity planning is an essential aspect in the product design systems. This is because it through this approach to design that Apple Company has been able to match the capabilities of the organization and the predicted levels of its future demands. Apple becomes involved in capacity planning due to changes in demand and high competition level in the mobile phone industry. In addition technological changes can also be describes ds as one of the reasons why capacity planning has become an essential determinant in the design and development of new products (Swan & Zou, 2014). Trends in technology have necessitated the development of multipurpose mobile phone devices, smartphones, which perform additional roles other than making and receiving calls. The ability of a smartphone manufacturing company such as Apple to develop highly effective multipurpose devises increase the changes that the company will incorporate in maintaining a competitive advantage in the technological market (Rodriguez, et al, 2015).
One of the most crucial aspects in the process of capacity planning is to engage in the definition and measurement of capacity. This is made possible by refereeing to the availability of inputs that will ensure the realization of expected outputs and outcomes in a timely manner. This makes it the responsibility of the management to tailor its definition and measure of capacity in accordance in relation to the context (Hestad, 2013). The design and production of IPhone 6 for Apple Company was based on an assessment of the existing facilities, in terms of their location and distance from the marketed labor supply. Additional determinant of effective capacity that were crucial in the design and development of iPhone 6 include supply chain factors, products and service dynamics, human and external factors such as minimum quality (Rodriguez et al., 2015).
Lessons Learned
In the development of new products, the role of product designers is to ensure that the envisioned products incorporate the element of utility. This is in relation to ensuring that a product’s human interface is safe through the incorporation of hygienically and technologically safe materials. In addition, it is important for the designers to ensure that the resulting product is easy to use and relatively intuitive, which can be enhanced by ensuring that each feature in the design is molded such that it reverses its functions to the users.
The appearance of a product is also important in the design of the product. When molding a product, it is the responsibility of the product designer to ensure that elements of color, form, line and proportion are integrated as part of the product to generate a pleasing entity. This will be enhanced with the ability of the designers to align their designs with the expectations of target customers. It is important to develop products that are easy to maintain. This is an integral process of the design team whose responsibility is to ensure that their designs communicate the process of marinating and repairing the product. Forms and features that define a product have an enormous impact on the production cost of a product. It is important for the design team to collaborate with the marketing and production team and ensure that their operations are cost effective in relation to the financial capabilities of the company. For effective design and marketing of a product, it is important for the design to communicate the philosophy and the mission of the designing company. This is considered a possibility through the visual qualities of the product.
The process of product development does not exclusively refer to the development of novel and revolutionary ideas but is always a result of thinking along unique and new lines. These areas of thought are often those that do not have any connection to conventional techniques and traditional choice of materials and design of the new product. The success of a company such as Apple is based on its ability to allow it designs to innovate and develop a concept about a product that the company envisions to produce to its customers. This is necessitated by the identification of customer needs and aligning the needs according to company ability and prevailing market conditions.
Hestad, M. (2013). Branding and product design: An integrated perspective. Surrey, England:
Rodriguez, E., Carrasquillo, O., Lee, C ., Lee, J & Zhou, A. (2015). iGo Green: A Life Cycle
Assessment of Apple’s iPhone. In iConference 2015 Proceedings.
Swan, K. S., & Zou, S. (2012). Interdisciplinary approaches to product design, innovation, &
branding in international marketing. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald
Ulrich, K. T., & Eppinger, S. D. (2014). Product design and development. New York: McGraw-

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