Pencil components

Forcing users to maintain products and pay for parts

An extremely annoying (likely intended) design malpractice is to force users to buy components for a product to drive company revenues.

Pencil by FiftyThree is a product I love and use all the time.

I’ve been a fan of the company since I first found out about them a while back.

Now I have come to point where the product has ‘broken down’.


The tip requires regular changing, because it ‘wears out’ after an unspecified¬†amount of time.

I simply cannot understand why this would ever be the case with a electronic/digital product like this.

Pencil components
Various components that make Pencil by FiftyThree.

Guess what?

Apple ripped off the whole ‘Pencil’ concept in their recent product announcement.

They released their own Pencil, demonstrating it with FiftyThree’s Paper app for iPad, to rub the salt into the wound.

One aspect of Apple Pencil (which at the moment is constantly completely sold out in Apple shops) is the ‘Extra Tip’ you will see on their advertising.

Apple Pencil’s tip also requires changing after a while, so Apple haven’t solved this design issue with the device.

They didn’t only port the product concept, but brought along failed product design thinking too, at more than twice the price point.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 20.29.56
Apple Pencil advertising imagery subtly implies that their Pencil also requires regular tip changing with the fact that they supply an ‘Extra Tip’.

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