"The businessman wants to create something for everyone, which leads to products that are middle of the road," says Brunner. "It becomes about consensus, and that's why you rarely see the spark of genius."
"Critical to Apple's success in design is the way Jobs brought focus and discipline to the product teams," Norman says. "[Jobs] had a single, cohesive image of the final product and would not allow any deviation, no matter how promising a new proposed feature appeared to be, no matter how much the team complained. Other companies are more democratic, listening to everyone's opinions, and the result is bloat and a lack of cohesion.
"The difference between BJ and AJ, Before and After Jobs, is not the process," he continues. "It is the person. Never before did Apple have such focus and dedication. Apple used to wobble, moving this way and that. No more."
One direct result of that sharpened focus is Apple's unique ability to create simple products. Though the idea of a simple high-tech device seems counterintuitive (why not offer more functionality if you can?), it's worked for Apple.
"The hardest part of design, especially consumer electronics," says Norman, "is keeping features out." Simplicity, he says, is in itself a product differentiator, and pursuing it can lead to innovation.
Rolston agrees. "The most fundamental thing about Apple that's interesting to me," he says, "is that they're just as smart about what they don't do. Great products can be made more beautiful by omitting things."