Apple’s Designs Help Make White the Most Popular Car Color

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Apple Made White Cars Cool

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.



Think of all the colorant PPG can sell if you get it in brown.




Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apple wouldn’t be following the car industry. It would be SLAVISHLY following Samsung, which introduced the Amber Brown Galaxy S III (and three other bitchin colors) two days ago.

This is the kind of irony that long-time Apple fans need to keep away from their pacemakers.


Are you testing me, Bosco?



Years ago, in Copenhagen, somebody had pimped out a Rolls Royce. It was white. Everything on it was pure white, including the hub caps and the silver angel! It was beautiful.


I always thought it funny that in sunny SoCal (L.A. to be specific) the most popular colors for cars for YEARS has been black, white, and silver. How friggin’ greyscale is that? I blame BMW and Merc for starting it…..


Alas Ron, not to disappoint you, but I think my dear friend Bosco is testing me. As I am the one who in all caps reiterated Mr Jobs usage of the word “slavish” in referring to Sammy’s “copying” of Apple. 

Subsequent to Bosco’s objection to my juxtaposition of the words “SLAVISH” and “COPYING”, I used the word SLAVISH in conjunction with INFRINGING, as that was a legally more accurate descriptor of the current situation.  To which Bosco responded with a description of how he’d like to remake the world and the legal system to conform with his world view. 

You know, how information - and by extension IP - wants to be free, especially if you were not the one to have shelled out the R&D bucks to develop it.


Years ago, in Copenhagen, somebody had pimped out a Rolls Royce. It was white. Everything on it was pure white, including the hub caps and the silver angel! It was beautiful.

John Lennon famously owned a white Roller.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You know, how information - and by extension IP - wants to be free, especially if you were not the one to have shelled out the R&D bucks to develop it.

Funny that you assume I’m one of those folks. Most creative people I know, and I include software developers under that umbrella, are against software patents because the system has turned into what we feared: a system of IP where everyone doing anything interesting (including Apple, BTW) is an infringer. Those who have been through the patent process at small and large companies know that it’s not the romantic view of Edison and Tesla racing to the patent office, but it’s a team of IP lawyers coming in and combing through everything to find anything and everything that they think they can get protection for after-the-fact within the budget they’re given. There are only two reasons to have software patents. One is that you plan to litigate. The other is that you plan to counter-litigate should a competitor come calling you into court. These are not artifacts of effective business.

You’ll also note that when I criticize a particular IP regime, I bring in examples from places where such a regime doesn’t apply to show that creativity can flourish without everyone calling on the government to protect exclusivity that they think they deserve. And that I am very protective of uniqueness of implementation while skeptical of granting anyone ownership of meer ideas. So your dismissal is simple and amusing and didn’t require much thought, but then, I don’t really expect thoughtfulness from the comments here, so I’m not disappointed.



Cars aren’t the only products where white has gained favor, and been attributed to Apple. As I posted in the forums recently, Whirlpool is shifting away from all—stainless to this, and the shift is being attributed to Apple:

On Monday, Whirlpool introduced a new premium exterior finish that they call ?White Ice.? With clean lines, silver accents and streamlined controls, the new collection?s refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and microwave are a departure from the flash and glitz of stainless steel and its many lookalikes. In fact, the combination of a white finish, stainless handles and mirrored glass appear to have a lot in common with Apple?s popular design language.

The irony that Jim points out related to cars applies here, too: Influenced by Apple, appliances are shifting from stainless to white, while Apple products are shifting (have shifted) from white to stainless.

Still no mention of Whirlpool adding a toaster to its refrigerator, regardless of color. smile

Read the article here.


I don’t really think that it is Apple fault like i am not gonna Fly Emirates next week when i am in vacation because i just saw this idea in a magazine. I think that it is a matter of taste and our tastes have changed and we usually take what the majority is doing or wearing and that’s it.

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