Thursday, April 07, 2005

A univeral icon

What designer hasn't dreamed that their vision of the Widget becomes a universal icon?

MIT Technology Review confirms that the AK-47 is the kick-ass universal icon of small arms.
Get this: The American M-16? 7 million in circulation. AK-47? 100 million. Wow, that's like Mac vs Windows.

Why is the AK so successful? Because it's a good design, done at an appropriate level for the marketplace:

"Kalashnikov ... began to create a design for a new weapon, one that could be assembled with relatively loose tolerances by relatively inexperienced workers, avoiding the supply bottlenecks that often resulted from the German cult of fine craftsmanship..... Not only was the AK-47 simple to manufacture, but it could withstand rough handling in harsh terrain and climates.

The decline of the market for Russian successors to the AK-47 reveals an unintended consequence of its rugged, reliable simplicity. It is all too easy for non-Russians, including anti-Russian terrorists, to reuse, repair, and manufacture it."

Nothing fancy, just enough design to get the job done. And the marketplace responded.



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