The psychology of Apple packaging
Steve jobs and Jony Ive prioritized packaging, which they said could be "theatre".
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Apple has sold ~2B iPhones.
And with a clear understanding of human psychology, Apple designed its packaging to make these ~2B new iPhone unboxing experiences very memorable (and prob why you can't get rid of the box).
Here's a breakdown:
Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone in January 2007. During the presentation, he noted that Apple had filed or been granted 200+ patents for the device. One of the patents: the iPhone case.
Jobs and Apple’s head designer (Jony Ive) long understood the value of packaging. As Ive recounts: "Steve and I spend a lot of time on the packaging. I love the process of unpacking something. You design a ritual of unpacking to make the product feel special. Packaging can be theater."
As the last thing someone feels before seeing their phone, Apple put in 1000s of hours perfecting the package.
There's literally a "packaging room" where a design employee will spend months opening up 100s of prototypes (w/different materials + shapes) to nail the experience.
What are they looking for?
Lux-feeling boxes w/ the right friction and drag to create a brief pause when you open it (air pockets have to be *just right*).
Like the moment before a magician's reveal, Jobs knew the power of anticipation and designed it into iPhone packaging.
There's a reason why unboxing videos on YouTube get billions of views a year.
The anticipation -- even when we know what's coming -- plays right into the curiosity gap: our psychological need to close the information deficit between what we know and what we *want* to know.
iPhone openings are also a multi-sensory experience:
You *see* the box
You *feel* the opening as you pull against friction
You *hear* the whoosh of air rushing out This adds to the theatre and creates a powerful memory recall effect like this:
Small details at every step make bring about the "ritual" Ive spoke about:
Pulling the box's plastic off with a tab
The entire opening experience
Peeling back the screen protector
Inspecting cords/earbuds held in origami paper
All of this before even touching the phone.
Even if you're not a fan of Apple, it's easy to see how a customer can use the heuristic: "Wow, if they're spending *this* much time on the packaging, the rest is probably pretty good too."
The detail in Apple's packaging is a great example of Jobs' "back of the fence" story:
Apple's packaging in general has a clear understanding of human psychology and how people shop. The designs give all relevant info in an eye-catching and quick-to-process manner:
Pictures > words
Image sizes are "as in real life"
Clean/minimalist so as not to overwhelm
In another patent application for *iPod* cases, Apple writes: "It may diminish from the aura of a well-designed product to present it to consumers in a standard cardboard box. A package that is more fitting of the high-tech design of the product is what consumers expect.”
One more example of Apple’s obsession with packaging goes back to the mid-1980s, as told by writer Walter Isaacson (who wrote a very popular Steve Jobs biography):
In the surest sign that Apple's packaging has reached a new level vs. other consumer tech products, people hoarding iPhone boxes is a meme.
With all the effort Apple's team put into it, not really a surprise.
PS. Here is my collection Apple boxes which serve literally no purpose but that I’ll never ever ever get rid of.
Packaging News (Link)
Cult of Mac (Link)
The "Inside Apple" book has the best detail on iPhone packaging (Link)