Function Follows Microsoft who Follows Form, er Something

I’m always amused by the attempts every year to ‘dethrone’ the iPod. Actually I’m amused at anyone who talks a big game and then doesn’t deliver. It’s not that I don’t think it’s possible to beat the iPod, it’s the fact that these companies and CEO’s talk all this smack, and copy Apple – but only on the surface.
Just because you approximate the layout of the iPod (vertical orientation, screen on top, pseudo-click wheel area below) has nothing to do with that player being a success. In fact, I would say that companies might have better luck with a completely different mp3 player design. Apple invented the ‘wheel’ (no pun intended) in the mp3 player world, don’t reinvent it.
If that wasn’t enough amusement, then I read that Microsoft is trying to push some design methodology on PC makers to compliment their perpetually delayed Vista operating system.
From BusinessWeek Online (Found via MacNN):

A How-To kit for the ideal PC has been making the rounds of leading design shops. It calls for “accelerated curves” and “purposeful contrast.” The preferred colors include a shade of black called Obsidian and a translucent white dubbed Ice. “We want people to fall in love with their PCs, not to simply use them to be productive and successful,” reads the enclosed booklet. “We want PCs to be objects of pure desire.”

On one hand I somewhat appreciate Microsoft’s attempt to emphasize the importance of good design, but it just smells so fake for me. Apple’s philosophy on design and function is engrained into the daily operations of its company and it applies to everything from iPods to their operating system to packaging to writing to store architecture…. I could go on, but you get the point. Microsoft is just telling all PC makers to use this pallet of colors.
That’s brilliant – have all the PC makers look alike. So smart. That will be great for competition and it’ll distinguish them all from each other. Again Microsoft, it works for Apple because Apple is a brand.
I’m going to stop trying to understand what they’re trying to do. I’d rather just watch the train wreck happen.
*fun reading on Microsoft’s Zune can be found at Daring Fireball