The recent announcements about Apple’s new proposed campus in Cupertino with a ‘starship’ building design got us thinking…We are often inspired by Apple’s approach to developing innovative business models and product solutions. Without question they have been leaders for the past decade when it comes to analyzing unmet user needs and creating products that delight. In so doing, Apple has developed a ‘cult’ of avid users. Yet cults follow blindly. Are we guilty of doing the same? We don’t really question their actions, even when they go directly against our own values.
Recently Apple received a small amount of negative press for building a giant server farm that relies on coal energy to cool those servers instead of looking to innovate with a green power solution. Yet we still listen to our iPods while sipping on Rainforest Alliance coffee. Apple’s press was a little more damaging when it was discovered that employees at one of their primary manufactures (Foxconn) were committing suicide at an alarming rate due to performance pressures and stressful working conditions. Foxconn making their employees sign a ‘no suicide pact’ is hardly innovative thinking.
And now these grandiose plans for an iconic building, which offers another opportunity for us to question the company we love…if we dare. Of course Apple as a growing company has needs to expand. Steve Jobs has said that “Apple’s growing like a weed” and Apple has proven time and again that naysayers and doubters are wrong. But do they need a building with a larger footprint than the Pentagon? Sure they are incorporating a range of green initiatives, but the material alone to build such a structure will have a huge carbon footprint. One might also question the logic of making a massive, completely circular building from an efficiency standpoint…how will that affect communication and innovation? Are they growing too big to stay ahead of the competition, as has been the fate of so many great companies before them?
You could also wonder if it’s the best use of another resource…money. Sure Apple has stockpiled cash, but couldn’t that go into solving some of the world’s bigger problems? Is this project about making Apple better or is it about the ongoing war with Google and them both finding ways to ‘one up’ the other? How much of this project is about making the next wonder of the world…the next Taj Mahal or Great Pyramid of Giza. Funny thing about the manmade wonders of the world…they are often tributes to the dead. As Apple fans, we hope this isn’t the case with the spaceship.
Apple is one of those companies both the business and design worlds have come to appreciate…we’re interested to hear your opinions!
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