Revolutionary New Apple Product?
April 13, 2012

Revolutionary New Apple Product?

Brett Smith for

American tech giants seem to be engaged in an epic game on one-upmanship this year when it comes to grabbing headlines. First, it was Apple´s turn with the unveiling of “the new iPad”. Then, it was Google´s turn last week with the debut of Project Glass. After Google´s “Wow!” turned to “How?”, it was Facebook´s grabbing headlines with its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram.

Today, it was back to Apple with French designer Philippe Starck telling French radio and French newspaper Le Figaro that he´s collaborating with the California company in creating a “revolutionary” new product that will be out by year´s end. Citing Apple´s "culte du secret religieux,” or “religious cult of secrecy,” the designer declined to provide any further details.

Speculation immediately centered on a possible Apple television set that many believe the company is currently building.  Peter Misek, an equity analyst with Jefferies, was in Asia recently and said he saw "evidence” that production of an Apple television set was starting. noted comments made by Apple founder Steve Jobs to his biographer about a breakthrough on a fully-integrated television with “the simplest interface you can imagine.”

Other Apple observers think Starck is referring to the next iPhone, which they say has a completely redesigned body and would have increased functionality. They note the expected release of the next iPhone is around the same time as the debut of this mysterious new product.

There is also the possibility that Apple is bringing a completely new product to market. If Google is planning cars that drive themselves and glasses that can make video calls and check the forecast, then a new TV set or mobile phone hardly seems revolutionary.

One thing for certain is that Starck´s sleek-and-modern aesthetic will fit nicely with the Jobs-ian, design-oriented culture built around the iconic American brand.  Steve Jobs famously said that to design something you have to “get it“¦ It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don´t take the time to do that.”

In his interviews, Starck said that he met in California with Jobs before his death in October once a month for seven years. He said he continues to travel there to see Jobs' widow Laurene Powell.

Starck is internationally known for both the interiors and products he designs. In 1982, he designed the interior for the private apartments of the French President François Mitterrand.  Starck has also designed many consumer products including toothbrushes, a juicer for the Italian design company Alessi, and a toothbrush sanitizer for the New York-based company VIOlight, which won the 2005 Industrial Design Excellence Award.

This “revolutionary” collaboration would not be the first time Starck has work with Apple products. In 2008, he designed a set of iPod speakers for the French-based mobile device company Parrot. The Zimku Parrot speakers currently retail for around $1600 and can be bought at the Parrot website.

Starck also designed an optical mouse for one of Apple´s biggest rivals, Microsoft, in 2004.