The Curious Case of the Upside Down Apple Logo

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Joe Moreno spent nine years working at Apple during the Steve Jobs era. Today, he writes about something that bothered Steve Jobs for a long time: the problem of the upside down Apple logo.

Sometimes, even the science and studies can be wrong. Not because of an error, but because you didn't dig deep enough.

About a dozen years ago we had some discussions at Apple about the placement of the logo on the back of Apple's laptops. As you can see in the Sex and the City scene, the Apple logo is upside down when the lid is opened.


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?"

We were told by the Apple design group, which takes human interface issues very seriously, that they had studied the placement of the logo and discovered a problem. 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. (If you're currently using an Apple laptop made in the past eight years, then close the lid and you'll see that the Apple logo will be upside down from your point of view, but right side up when opened)

Why was 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 focuses 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.


Republished with permission from Joe Moreno.