Working on shape customisation for a while, I often get asked the question “if small changes in the shape of an object are even perceivable by the public”. The comparison made by the Portuguese designer Rudolfo Foitinho intended to analyze brand differences but may offer some insights about product shape variation. They are observable in coffee cups, tablets, footwear, cameras, cars and handheld game consoles. Even though they cannot be analyzed excluding branding significance, they show the distinctive elements of each design.
In footwear shape and surfaces treatment are the most important design variables. In cameras and game consoles there is an increment of complexity that transcends stylistic decisions, such as size, position and shape of the controls. The similarities on overall shape of the products can derive from same ergonomic conclusions and show how narrow is the space to develop good designs.
About the initial question, the answer doesn’t rely only on shape or only on brand. Consumer experience involves a multitude of variables, although shape and functionality are way high in the hierarchy.
The header image is made by Mário Barros based on the source: http://www.nendo.jp/en/works/splinter-2/