Stand behind an opened current-model MacBook Pro or Air, and you’ll see a glowing Apple logo. But look at some older models – such as Carrie Bradshaw’s laptop in Sex and the City – and the logo appears upside down.
The mysterious case of the flipped Apple logo has resurfaced after Joe Moreno, who worked for Apple for over nine years, blogged about it, saying the change came about due to product placement in TV and movies.
Apple never pays for its products to appear on television or in movies, unlike many companies; instead it relies on hit shows wanting to feature them as props or even – such as Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory – writing them into the script.
The company’s gadgets were discussed or shown 891 times on TV in 2011, up from 613 in 2009, with iOS devices appearing in more than 40 percent of the movies that topped the weekly box office in the same year, as reported by Bloomberg.
Studios interested in using an Apple product had to wait for review models to be returned, and often got older devices. However Jon Holtzman, Apple’s marketing manager in the early ’90s, successfully lobbied to make product placement as much of a priority as the editorial loan program. He also tried to make a small but important product change to the company logo.
At the time, prior to Jobs’ return to Apple, the PowerBook had the iconic company logo facing the user when closed, which meant that the logo was upside down when the lid was open. Holtzman had stickers printed to cover the actual logo and have it appear correctly onscreen in TV and movies.
“We had some discussions at Apple about the placement of the logo on the back of Apple’s laptops,” Moreno writes. “Apple has an internal system called Can We Talk? where any employee can raise questions on most any subject. So we asked, ‘Why is the Apple logo upside down on laptops when the lid is open?’
“If the Apple logo was placed such that it was right side up when the lid was opened then it ended up being upside down when the lid was closed, from the point of view of the user.
“Why was (being) upside down from the user’s perspective an issue? Because the design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the wrong end. Steve Jobs always focused on providing the best possible user experience and believed that it was more important to satisfy the user than the onlooker.
“Obviously, after a few years, Steve reversed his decision.
“Opening a laptop from the wrong end is a self-correcting problem that only lasts for a few seconds. However, viewing the upside logo is a problem that lasts indefinitely.”
Ken Segall author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success has also blogged about the upside-down Apple logo.