When the enterprise murdered relatable software development
The partnership that slaughtered emotional design: Apple and Cisco
The transition away from relatable, skeuomorphic design was not only signaled by the design shifts in iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite but also underscored by the Apple-Cisco enterprise partnership around the same time period. This partnership is particularly notable given Steve Jobs' known disdain for Cisco. Jobs, whose ethos was deeply rooted in crafting experiences that resonated with people, would have likely been averse to such a partnership.
While Jobs had a knack for forging alliances that aligned with Apple's vision, a partnership with Cisco would have been incongruent to his values. Jobs had a history of favoring holistic experiences over mere functional integration, an ethos which is somewhat at odds with Cisco's focus on network efficiency. The Apple-Cisco enterprise collaboration, focused as it was on optimizing network infrastructure and performance, veered away from the principles of crafting software that felt relatable and true to life, something Jobs would have placed paramount importance on.
This partnership, then, can be seen as a further indication of the evolving priorities at Apple during this period, one that focused more on technical optimization and less on people’s emotional connection to the software. The series of these events—starting from the design overhaul in iOS 7 to the strategic corporate alignment with Cisco—marks a significant departure from the Steve Jobs era, where design decisions were deeply rooted in creating a sense of familiarity and delight.
The changes that began in 2013 with iOS 7 and continued through 2015 with the Apple-Cisco partnership signal a chapter in Apple's history that deprioritized relatable software development. This era leaned into aesthetic minimalism, cross-platform uniformity, and enterprise-level functionality—choices that, while beneficial in some contexts, also distanced the company from a design philosophy once championed by Jobs, which placed familiarity and people-centric experiences at its heart.
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