In technology circles, the purists often favour features over aesthetics, but there is something to be said for eye candy. Just look at the apple iPhone – the early versions had fewer features than balckberrys, windows mobile smartphones and mainstream nokias, but the device looked great with a great user interface, and that is the primary reason for the initial success. Likewise, iPods in general are not the most feature rich or highest quality portable music devices, yet they are basically purchased as fashion accessories due to their great aesthetics and overall top-notch design.
We also see Microsoft betting large on the aesthetics front with the advent of Bing, their new internet search engine. I’ve switched from using google just because I find it more aesthetically pleasing to see the great photography on the Bing homepage. For Microsoft this is quite an achievement – retaining the simplicity of google yet making it a richer experience.
For a great read on the value of aesthetics, check out this great post about the importance of aesthetics in application design, including a story about better looking Japanese ATMs!