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Are Designers Falling Out of Love With the iPhone?

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The title of this post may seem like a crazy proposition, given that Apple's core, the base that has enabled it to survive the dark days and become the world's most profitable tech company, has always been a vehemently loyal design audience.

Before millions of people bought iPhones and iPods, and before MacBooks and Airs became the laptops of choice for discerning users, it was designers who spent their days plying their trade on Apple products. And in those days when Windows-loaded PCs stook on or under virtually every desk, it was designers that kept Apple in business. So what problem could designers possible have with Apple?

Whilst still a minority opinion, there is certainly a noticeable change in how many in the design community are viewing Apple and its products. Here are just a few reasons why Apple's iPhone may have reached its peak with designers.

1. Skeuomorphism

For those that don't know, a skeuomorph is something that retains anachronistic design elements, such as Apple's use of lined paper in its Notes app, or the decision to place an image of a microphone on the screen when you're in an app that can record audio. Apple loves this stuff, and - though it was vital in the early years of computing - many argue that we've reached a point where these design devices are clunky, and even a little insulting to the intelligence of many users. If you want to read a great attack on such design choices, then look no further than this article on Computer Arts.

2. Product design over graphic design

We'll just come out and say it: Apple's current line of gadgets are some of the most beautifully designed products to grace the tech landscape. Under the watchful eye of Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior VP of industrial design at Apple, there has been an almost obsessive attention to detail and aesthetics, which has been one of the major factors in Apple's success. However, where the product design and UI took equal billing a few years ago, many designers believe that Apple has failed to develop the design of its OS, both on the desktop and mobile. Incremental updates over the last few years have lacked any real innovation, especially when it comes to visual design.

3. Litigation over innovation

Apple's recent patent win against Samsung, and the subsequent $1billion pay-out, has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many designers. Though it has been cited by some Apple supporters as a protection of the company's unique design elements, Apple's apparent obsession with suing competing handset manufacturers that use Google's Android OS doesn't sit right. And with the continued improvements in both Google and Microsoft's mobile UI and user experience there is increasing interest in the iPhone's competition.

In a recent post on Creative Bloq, web and graphic designer Elliot Jay Stocks had this to say: "I have a lot of respect for the Windows Phone UI. Not only have they avoided skeuomorphism by focusing on a simple, type-heavy interface but they've also done something completely different to iOS."

4. Ubiquity

When every person walking down the street is carrying the same mobile phone as you, then many a designer would say it's time for a change. And, though not the most compelling reason to make the switch to a different handset and mobile OS, with the selection of viable iPhone alternatives growing every day, the switch is becoming easier to make, and to justify.

Now, we're not saying this will happen overnight, but keep an eye out, because next time your in the company of designers you may notice that iPhones are starting to get a bit of competition from alternative handsets.