The utopian invisibility of design and connectivity


Just before our onstage conversation at the Structure Connect conference, I was in deep conversation with Sonos founder and chief executive John MacFarlane and we were talking about the design of connected devices. During our conversation, I wondered if the actual network connectivity, and how it impacts user behavior, falls under the broad umbrella of “design.” What made me ask that question was the constantly shifting idea of what is design.

When I asked MacFarlane what he thought about the barrage of connected speakers coming out from all the old school audio brands, he pointed out that the success of these connected speakers is not in how they look or sound, but at the end in how they connect to the network and to the services that define the product’s design. For Sonos, “design” involved building a software platform that connected to thousands of radio stations — Spotify, Pandora and…

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