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What if Apple made Air-conditioners?

“People who refer to out-of-the-box see the box … People who don’t know the box even exists are the innovative thinkers.”
Lisa Goldenberg

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A lot of us struggle with stepping out of the box – the set paradigms of thinking. One way to force ourselves out-of-the-box is to get in the shoes of someone who is far away from the box, in a different world. A whole new stereo type needs to replace the current one, aiding thought process to venture out into new dimensions. Brands such as Apple, and Google offer such sharply defined stereotypes. It’s possible to imagine how they might approach design of a different product. The thought of an Apple Car is a recent example that excited imaginations and brought out some very cool concepts.

What if Apple made Air-conditioners?

Iconic design, excellent build quality and limited product variants characterize Apple. The fully touch based iPhone appeared in the market at a time when Nokia and Motorola were not sure there were many takers for such an interface. How would such a design thinking extend to air-conditioning? Here are a few guesses.

1. A Single Model

While most brands go with a strategy where there is something available at every price point, and for every design preference, Apple prefers to make those choices upfront for their customers. Fewer options mean customers get to appreciate nuances of the product, and not get caught in the comparison game.

So, when it comes to Air-conditioning, it would be a single model. My guess is, it would be a Ceiling Mounted Cassette Type. The most elegant, the least intrusive, and the most effective. We could see advances in the Cassette AC design, and adoption make the High Wall Split type look outdated. It’s similar to how Smart Phones have edged out feature phones today.

2. Aesthetics is Slim

Just as great build quality and slim design is great for the iPhone, so it is for an AC indoor unit. Elegance in an AC indoor unit can be defined by it’s slimness. I would expect a form factor that sets a new benchmark for slimness. At present, slimness is a latent need for most people. They do not verbalize it because there are not many options available. But once it becomes a reality, it will become an important need.

3. False Ceiling Made Optional

At present, the design of Cassette ACs is such that most implementations require a false ceiling. In some cases, interior designers have presented choices where the Cassette AC is installed with no false ceiling. This is an area waiting to be disrupted – A Cassette AC design that does not depend on false ceiling to make it look good. Given the clout Apple tends to have in its ecosystem, I would imagine building designs come up that enable an seamless installation of such indoor units.

So, an Apple inspired AC, leaves your walls free, clings on to the roof and probably doubles up as a source of light too. It’s all about delivering a stellar home or office experience.

Given the same challenge, we could well foresee Google taking a more data intensive route – automation and personalization would be the key words. Massive data generated by users would provide insights not available to manufacturers so far.

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