White is now the most popular exterior car color in America, supplanting silver for the first time in nearly a decade. There may be many factors behind the shift in new car purchasers’ color preferences, but one factor, according to a BMW designer, is Steve Jobs and Apple.
“Prior to Apple, white was associated with things like refrigerators or the tiles in your bathroom. Apple made white valuable,” Sandy McGill, BMW Designworks’ lead designer in color materials and finish told Motoramic Wednesday.
Although the Cupertino company has recently shifted away from white designs and towards, ironically, more silver products, for nearly 10 years Apple’s iPods, iMacs, iBooks, and MacBooks were the symbol of hip electronics around the world.
In an example of style over function, however, both Apple and car owners have come to realize that white is not a low-maintenance choice. Just like white Apple products before them, white cars are more difficult to maintain and show dirt and imperfections far more readily than other colors.
As a result, car manufacturers are pushing consumers to darker colors, such as brown. “Think of the experience of good coffee, good chocolate, great pieces of wood,” Jane Harrington, Global Color Manager for paint supplier PPG, said while referencing brown as a good choice of color for automobiles. “You’re seeing it across the crafts industry: more genuine materials, something that has longevity. The handmade quality people are looking for in luxury.”
Apple came to similar conclusions about white as they began to shift most of their product line from white plastic to silver and black metal and glass. The company still offers white iDevices, but the color now serves more as an accent to glass and metal than it did in iPods and laptops of yesteryear.
Will Apple follow the car industry’s lead and begin to produce brown devices? Or will they continue to set their own trends and let other industries follow? After all, brown did not fare so well for another electronics device maker.
Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.