Making For Each Other

Apple are smart, sneaky bastards sometimes. Looking for a monitor, I was considering a display by Apple for quite some time. The biggest reason had actually nothing to do with display technology. It had to do with a bunch of cheap cables.

Minitor Cables Apple

Aaaaw! Look! All the cables fit right in. “They’re just made for each other”

The Apple display comes with a neat cable that splits into 3 connectors: one for a MacBook Pro power supply, one for the MiniDisplay Port connector and one USB connector for various goodies installed on the display. With this one cable you can quickly hook up your entire MacBook to the display with ease. Of course the problem is actually caused by Apple since two of the connectors are proprietary and unique to MacBooks. But Apple makes the weakness into a strength and advertises this with the slogan “Made for each other”. And you know what? It works!

The alternative would involve crawling under you desk to attach the power supply every day and using a whole bunch of funky (and expensive) adapters. Not really unacceptable but just enough to make a strong case for Apple. It just “feels right”. It maybe even triggers some weird instincts to match things that seem to belong together.

But a lot people suggested that I wasn’t being reasonable. After all, a display costs around 800 EUR and the cable makes up just a fraction of that cost. It doesn’t seem like a smart idea to disregard quality and value just for the sake of some cables. It was a good counter-argument. I reconsidered. In fact, there are much better, cheaper, bigger and more flexible displays than Apple’s. I realized that it was, in fact, quite silly of me to disregard them just because of such a detail.

But maybe there was a way for me to have my cake and eat it too. A few Google searches and I developed a plan how to make things that weren’t made for each other work together just as well. I got a Mini Display Port to Display Port cable at and a second power supply from eBay. The USB port was no big deal. Voilà, made for each other McGyver style.

Custom Display Cables


There are two lessons to learn from it.

First it is quite amazing how effective it can be to design and clearly communicate specific user cases. This is one area where Apple does a great job and where other computer manufacturers simply fail. The computer industry is still dominated by technology geeks who still think they are selling technology. Dear technology geeks: I don’t care about the specs and functions of your products, I don’t understand what they mean! It’s not that I’m stupid, I just don’t have the time to learn all the stuff. I want you to tell me! I want you to give me good reasons to chose your stuff over the competition. A 0,1 EUR cable can sell a 800 EUR monitor, you just need to communicate it clearly.

Secondly, it is frighteningly easy to fall for such traps. That’s why it is so important to get different opinions in. Apple has a way of lulling one in. It is easy to get obsessed with nifty features that can easily be reproduced by other means. I’m glad I was able to take a step back and see the big picture. I must be more cautious in the future.

In any case, I’m happy to report that the setup works well and I can only recommend it to others who are looking to hook up their MacBook Pro to an external display.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Making For Each Other”

  1. sirleto

    if i’m not mistaken, what you are talking about (in both ways: negative and positive) is marketing. apple has it (positively and negatively) and many others tech people / companies (including myself) don’t.

    it’s because marketing seldomly does good things, they do good jobs if the sell something. and if it is a bad product, they still do good jobs if they sell it. so often you can find good marketing done by good marketing people for shitty products. in other terms: they often lie. and this is why people like me who know about technology and often take whatever time needed to find out about the quality of a product, truly hate marketing because it so often does not tell the truth.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I agree with you observation about how marketing comes off as being a lie. The problem is because development and marketing are kept separated. That’s what Design is for: It’s when the technology of a product and the way it is communicated to the audience are both part of the same strategy.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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