Mompreneurs look to family life for product inspiration. And maybe Steve Jobs did too.
The rise of “mompreneurs” has been helped by the rise of Internet and social media, which allow child-raising women to exchange ideas without having to leave the house….
“In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what you need, they just invent it themselves.”
THAT was true for Ms. Monosoff, who couldn’t figure out how to stop her 8-month-old daughter from unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it down the toilet. “I was like, ‘O.K., where’s the gadget?’ ” Ms. Monosoff recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to design something like that, but I really had no experience. Then I was buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, and I saw a hair permanent rod, that little roller thing, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that might work!’ ”
She worked on a rough prototype of what would become the “TP Saver.” The basic concept is that a small, plastic rod — that grown-ups can lock into place — keeps the toilet paper from unspooling.
(This mom ends up a commercial success–though one hopes other moms would question whether we really need more gadgets manufactured in China.)
Steve Jobs was renowned for his attention to design detail, calling Google’s senior vice president for engineering one Sunday morning with the urgent message that, “The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient.”
It turns out one of Apple’s most “human” design features was also Jobs’ idea. If you’ve ever watched a loved one sleeping, you know why that rhythm is so compelling.
But the greatest example of Mr. Jobs’s attention to detail and design can be found in the little millimeter-sized glowing light that appears on every MacBook Laptop. The light, known as a sleep indicator, glows when the laptop is closed, or sleeping. Competing laptops have this feature too, but Apple’s is different.
The Mac sleep indicator is timed to glow at the average breathing rate of an adult: 12 breaths per minute. As with the space between typographic letter on the Macintosh, only Mr. Jobs could pay attention to such detail.
One author in the New York Times argues that those who run our government should take a cue from Jobs’ focus on the human scale.
After all, if you wanted to really get a picture of how the national culture has evolved in the last few decades, particularly in the urban areas that drive economic growth, you could do a lot worse than to study Apple’s string of innovations. Mr. Jobs understood, intuitively, that Americans were breaking away from the last era’s large institutions and centralized decision-making, that technology would free them from traditional workplaces and the limits of a physical marketplace.
This was the underlying point of “think different” — that our choices were no longer dictated by the whims of huge companies or the offerings at the local mall. This was the point of a computer that enabled you to customize virtually every setting, no matter how inconsequential, so that no two users had the exact same experience. This was the essential insight behind devices driven by a universe of new apps, downloaded in seconds depending on your lifestyle and interests.
At the same time, while Mr. Jobs saw a society moving inexorably toward individual choice, he also seemed to understand that such individuality breeds detachment and confusion. And so Apple sought to fill that vacuum by making itself into more than a manufacturer; it became a kind of community, too, with storefronts and stickers and a membership that enabled you to get your e-mail, or video-conference with your friends, or post a Web page of your vacation photos.