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Apple’s design focus is about as sharp as it comes, with pretty much every aspect of the company dominated by how the final product will feel in a customer’s hand. That’s the secret to Apple’s success — and that’s the strategy competing businesses have to avoid, said Fuseproject founder and industrial designer Yves Béhar.

Businesses looking to compete with Apple — though I can’t imagine who would want to take on that giant without a few billion dollars in revenue yearly behind them — need to have an incredible design focus with their own specific flair, he said.

“The reason Apple is so successful is because they found a way to fundamentally apply design principles in a way that is uniquely Apple and is very compelling in every way,” Béhar said. “The wrong attitude is to say Apple did it that way, we’re going to do it that way — you need to keep that as a top layer, a level of importance, and find design principles that are uniquely yours.”

That said, Béhar said Apple is a “shining example” of how design should be executed in a company. He said the design principles and strategies that Apple applies to its products are directly responsible for its success — especially its focus on designing products that aren’t dominated by customer feedback.

Apple’s incredible focus on design came out in a slightly sour way with the launch of its most recent iPhone. The iPhone 4 sported an external antenna band that interfered with the phone’s reception, prompting Apple CEO Steve Jobs to make his “we’re not perfect” statement and hand out free cases to cover the design flaw.

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