iPad 2 vs. Kindle (a product + packaging perspective)
By Ian Bates, Partner, The Less Packaging Company
Apple’s iPad 2 is a undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary products to have every been created. It is minimal, sleek, lightweight and functional and combines zen-like design engineering with the latest digital technology. It outsells the Amazon Kindle 4:1 at current sales of 1 million per week.
So how does the packaging compare? In my view the Kindle is better packaging, which considers both brand and delivery. The Kindle box is made from robust, lightweight fine-fluted corrugated with interesting detailing. The outer surface is embossed, silver blocked and gives a you a sense of high-tech, attention to detail with a light touch in terms of environmentally responsible packaging whilst being relevant for the purposes of safely protecting, delivering and presenting the contents. To open the box is a real treat. It has a simple, but clever unzipping feature which makes the unpacking experience very satisfying. The protective internal packaging is made from moulded paper pulp which snugly displays and protects the product in a minimal design-like fashion. The quick-start instructions booklet is also easily accessible and presented to you as you open the hinged lid. A very well thought though design.
Compare this with the iPad box. This box certainly does look special and if you listen to most people they will tell you it is a great box. It looks and feels expensive, which is one of its goals. However, from a pure design engineering perspective; it is heavy, bulky, clunky and old-world technology. It’s also expensive because these boxes are hand-made in Asia and when shipped before packing, take-up huge amounts of space as they do not flat-pack.
Packaging, to do its intended job well, should always reflect the values of the brand if it is to truly engage consumers. So why would Apple design a box that is nothing like the product i.e. modern, minimal, lightweight and purposeful? The answer might have something to do with perceived value – something we often see with luxury consumer goods, which have to work hard to satisfy the consumer’s expectation of indulgence. In the case of both boxes you are likely to keep the packaging as part of the product should it be gifted or later sold and this then forms an important part of the product’s actual value. This could be a justification for over-packaging, but in my view is a flawed argument.
It will be interesting to see how the new iPad 3 will be boxed. My best guess is that now Steve Jobs is sadly no longer at the helm of Apple that a more pragmatic approach will be pursued if only to reduce cost. It would be good if the motivation was also social and environmental after all the impact of over-packaging does, whether we accept it or not, have a detrimental impact for everyone.
Fortunately more and more brand owners are becoming aware of the value of joined-up thinking when it comes to product and packaging design. Designing packaging which is neither over nor under-packed because both result in wastage. At The Less Packaging Company we call this ‘per-cycling’, a design process, which considers the entire journey and roles of both product and packaging holistically. It reduces waste and cost as well as delivering related supply-chain savings and other benefits such as better compliance, happier customers and enhanced reputation and brand value.
If you would like to read more about pre-cycling, go to www.lesspackaging.net