The Early Years
frog began as Esslinger Design in 1969 when Hartmut Essslinger and partners Andreas Haug and Georg Spreng opened a studio in the Black Forest of Germany to promote the concept of emotional design. They viewed every act of creation as a small step towards improving the everyday lives of individuals.
Soon after its inception, the company received its first big break: a commission from German electronics giant WEGA. A few years later, when Sony bought WEGA, frog found itself working for a massive corporation. The partnership was a huge success, spanning decades and generating more than 100 products, including the mold-breaking black-box Sony Trinitron TV. Gradually, the young design firm became known for its innovation, risk-taking, and vision.
Coming to America: frog Goes Global
It was precisely this mix that appealed to top executive Steve Jobs back in 1981, when he began searching for the elusive magic that would give Apple a market edge. Back then, computing was a sea of anonymous beige boxes. Jobs combed the world for a strategy-focused design company—and found it in Esslinger’s team. A multimillion-dollar deal was struck, enticing Esslinger Design to establish a California office. A few years later, the Apple IIc was launched with great fanfare. The design was named “Design of the Year” by Time Magazine and inducted into the permanent collection at the Whitney Museum of Art. Apple’s revenue soared from $700 million in 1982 to $4 billion in 1986.
With the move to Northern California, the company changed its name to frog design, not for its ability to metamorphose—though this would certainly prove the case—but for its international roots: (f)ederal (r)epublic (o)f (g)ermany. The lowercase letters offered a nod to the Bauhaus notion of a non-hierarchical society, reinforcing the company’s ethos of democratic partnership, both within the design teams and with its clients.
From ID to UI to Convergence
Since then, frog has expanded far beyond its industrial design roots, evolving to better address the technological and cultural developments of the marketplace. In the 1980s, the company took on corporate branding, recognizing the value of a consistent user experience across platforms—product design, engineering, graphics, logos, packaging, and production. Its redesign of the Logitech products and brand identity led the computing giant to grow its revenue from $43 million in 1988 to more than $200 million in 1995, securing the number-one market position. A few years later, frog reexamined the entire Lufthansa operation, from airport signage and plane interiors, to the flatware used for in-flight dining. By exploring the interactions among various consumer touchpoints, frog continues to help brands create more meaningful product and service experiences.
In the 1990s, frog launched a digital media group and began growing its expertise in user interface design for websites, computer software, and mobile devices. Its 1999 redesign of SAP’s enterprise software fostered new levels of efficiency in business management worldwide. Its 2000 design of Dell.com set the standard for e-commerce. And its 2001 collaboration with Microsoft helped create the look and feel for Windows XP, touching the lives of millions of consumers across the globe. More recent collaborations in Web design, software, mobile devices, and consumer electronics are still helping to shape the digital experience as we move into an era of ubiquitous computing.
In more recent years, frog has expanded its offerings once more to include strategic advising on high-level business challenges and long-term planning, including developing social-innovation services and products in emerging economies. In 2008, the company launched Project Masiluleke, which The Economist called “the world’s largest field trial in mobile health technology.” The project is the first attempt to tackle the HIV epidemic in South Africa with a mobile solution—one that started with a single text message to 1 million phones.
In 2011, frog design became frog, a company of the Aricent Group. The firm works with the world’s leading companies, helping them to design, engineer, and bring to market meaningful products and services. With an interdisciplinary team of more than 1,600 designers, strategists, and software engineers, frog delivers connected experiences that span multiple technologies, platforms, and media. frog works across a broad spectrum of industries, including consumer electronics, telecommunications, healthcare, energy, automotive, media, entertainment, education, finance, retail, and fashion. Clients include Disney, GE, HP, Intel, Microsoft, MTV, Qualcomm, Siemens, and other Fortune 500 brands.
Esslinger Design officially opens for business with partners Hartmut Esslinger, Andreas Haug, and Georg Spreng. Their first client was WEGA.
The WEGA System 3000 is introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin.
The company begins work with Sony for markets in Tokyo and London.
Sony buys WEGA. Esslinger Design becomes frog design.
frog works with an increasingly global clientele, including Louis Vuitton, Motorola, and Texas Instruments.
The Sony WEGA Concept 51K stereo is acquired for the design collection of MoMA, New York.
frog partners with Apple to create the revolutionary Apple IIc, which is later inducted into the design collection of the Whitney Museum, and gets voted Time Magazine's "Design of the Year."
frog's NeXT box is voted "Design of the Year" by BusinessWeek.
frog is chosen "Design Team of the Year" by the Design Center, Essen.
frog launches its Digital Media Design group, pioneering user-interface design for the Web and digital devices.
frog designs Dell.com. It becomes the top-grossing website to date, setting a new standard for e-commerce.
frog establishes a strategy department, integrating high-level business strategy and user insights.
frog and Disney create a new line of electronics for kids, expanding the brand and generating more than $500 million in revenue.
The frog-designed Alltel Celltop introduces widget-based navigation to the mobile device, winning awards from BREW, CTIA, and MeM.
frog launches Project Masiluleke, an initiative that uses mobile technology to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
frog designs the HP Touchsmart, the world’s first touchscreen desktop, and the Intel Point of Sale kiosk, a new retail concept. frog becomes an official partner of the TEDGlobal conference.
frog and ECOtality create the Blink series of electric-vehicle chargers.
frog supports the World Economic Forum's "Rethinking Personal Data" initiative and debuts field research on the subject of mobile money in Afghanistan.