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Golden ratio in the design of the iPod

Posted by Julian Seidenberg on 6 January 2006 | 31 Comments


The Apple iPod is the world's most beautiful MP3 player.

The iPod was designed by Jonathan Ive and his team of designers. Their goal was to create the perfect product. They achieved this with an extreme amount of attention to detail.

One aspect of the design is the basic shape of the device. The rectangle that is the iPod comes closer than any other MP3 player to the golden ratio 1 : 1.618 (also sometimes called the golden section). This ratio appeals to us at an unconscious level.

Attractive human faces have proportions that correspond to the golden ratio, indeed, the human body itself exemplifies this ratio, the Greek Parthenon and many other famous ancient monuments use the ratio throughout their design, the logarithmic spiral on a Nautilus Shell conforms the to golden ratio and even a TV image using those proportion is more appealing (that's why widescreen TV is 16:10). The golden section is deeply ingrained in the design of the Universe. We can't help but be attracted by it.

Here are the ratios of several popular MP3 players:

ipod iriver h10 creative nomad zen xtra

1 : 1.67 = iPod
1 : 1.75 = iRiver H10
1 : 1.47 = Creative Nomad Zen Xtra

The iRiver is too tall, the Nomad is far too fat, but the iPod's shape, though also slightly too tall, comes closest to this magic ratio. It is certainly no accident that it is the most visually appealing. I am however surprised that no other company has created an MP3 player that exactly uses the golden section (the iRiver H320 comes close by using the same ratio as the iPod, but otherwise looks like an ugly brick - sigh).

So remember, whenever you design anything try to use this golden ratio and people will become instinctively attracted.


  • Posted by Bear, 04/02/2007 1:57am (9 years ago)

    The success of the iPod is due to good marketing (with iTunes to boot), not just its looks.

    I havent seen an advert on TV for any other mp3 player.

  • Posted by Golden Ratio » eon, 17/01/2007 9:33am (9 years ago)

    [...] I gave a talk before on the golden ratio, so when I came across this blog entry Ipod and the golden ratio via Gooseania, I had better save this link in case I have to give the same talk again. [...]

  • Posted by Josh, 27/12/2006 11:38am (9 years ago)

    "So remember, whenever you design anything try to use this golden ratio and people will become instinctively attracted"

    Yeah, i don't think it's that simple.

  • Posted by Labnotes » Blog Archive » links for 2006-01-14, 14/01/2006 5:37am (10 years ago)

    [...] deltaflow ?» Blog Archive ?» Golden ratio in the design of the iPod (tags: design) [...]

  • Posted by Syntactically Correct - Amit Schreiber’s Blog » Blog Archive » Stuff I found today while browsing, 11/01/2006 2:52pm (10 years ago)

    [...] Golden ratio in the design of the iPod [...]

  • Posted by Geshko, 11/01/2006 6:18am (10 years ago)

    Also, go to your local video rental store, and look up a movie called '??' (Pi, as in 3.14) Its about a brilliant mathemetician who is attempting to use the Golden Ratio to predict the stock market, gets involved with an ubersecret branch of the US government and a power-hungry rabbitical order, and eventually begins to discover how the Golden Ratio answers the pentultimate question: the meaning of life!
    I enjoyed it. A friend of mine could not stand it. Watch it anyway, and make up your own mind.

  • Posted by Eric, 10/01/2006 8:44pm (10 years ago)

    In tests concerning preference for things made up of the golden ratio the evidence has pointed to people not really noticing if something had the right ratio or not. Check out "The Golden Ratio" a book by Mario Livio. He talks about how that number has been assigned a great deal of meaning where no meaning really exists. That's also where I saw the results for the preference surveys.

  • Posted by Chris, 09/01/2006 10:53pm (10 years ago)

    I can agree that the iPod is the most visually appealing on the surface level... But lets face reality here- the iRiver is much more functional and has better hardware.

    The iPod has one of the worst UIs I think I've ever seen. The concept is interesting, but it's too obnoxious to deal with. And its a known fact that the batteries fail repeatedly and the screens are easily scratched.

  • Posted by Matt, 09/01/2006 10:15pm (10 years ago)

    the ratio of the dell pocket dj is even closer, 1.66666 etc. (3.5x2.1) .

  • Posted by Lori, 09/01/2006 8:13pm (10 years ago)

    The Golden Ratio is also what is mentioned in the book the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It is a very important part of the whole story and is explained rather well. The divine perfect number.

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