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Reporters' Roundtable: Elements of tech design (podcast)

From CES, CNET's Rafe Needleman interviews design experts from Frog Design and MOTO Development Group on elements of gadget design, from budget to aesthetics to material science.

This week, the Roundtable is live from CES in Las Vegas. Topic: Design. My two guests, Gregor Berkowitz of MOTO Development (and author of the Design Review blog), and Max Burton of Frog Design, talk with me about design vs. engineering, why Apple's designs are so successful, and how companies balance designers' views with marketers'. We also take a trip into the future, looking at new kinds of user interfaces and advances in materials sciences and manufacturing.

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Reporters' Roundtable #15: Elements of design


Gregor Berkowitz is president of MOTO Development Group, a firm specializing in product strategy and development for clients that have included Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. Gregor is also author of the new Design Review blog at CNET.

Max Burton is executive creative director at Frog Design, which has worked with Disney, GE, HP, Logitech, Microsoft, MTV, Yahoo and other companies to bring new conusmer experiences to market. Max has worked on projects with Nike, OXO, HP, and XM Radio, among others.


How important is design in technology products?

What are the standout designs or experiences at CES?

Worst designs or experiences you've ever seen?

How can you tell when design took a back seat to engineering, or vice versa?

What makes a product feel rich? Cheap?

Is there such a thing as too much simplicity?

Retro tech: Olympus EP1 camera. VW Beetle, Ford Mustang, PT Cruiser. Steampunk. All of these concepts take new tech and package it in old-tymey skins. Isn't this a really weird mixed message?

Challenges for you: If you wanted your product, say a camera, or a mobile phone, to appeal to particular people without being cliched, what would you do to telegraph that? For example: College students. Boys. Girls. Divorced mothers. CEOs. Or am I missing the point?

Case study: The Boxee box: It's a circuit board with an ethernet jack and AV ports. In a box that's deliberately off-kilter and which you can't stack anything on top of. What do you make of it? Genius or arrogance or what?

Discuss materials. Why is Apple the only company making metal notebooks?

Discuss process. Visionary individuals vs committee designs.

Role of engineers vs marketers.

Trends for 2010 and beyond?

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