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Apple's product design has slipped since Steve Jobs, says investor and early employee

  • Apple is expected to continue to put a heavier emphasis on software services than on hardware.
  • Still, Bruce Tognazzini says the company should focus on maintaining its reputation as the world leader in making beautiful products.

Apple's hardware products are no longer the beautiful, sleek designs they once were, early Apple employee Bruce Tognazzini told CNBC on Monday.

"They've gone with making everything so ultimately thin that it has one port, and you walk around with a satchel of hubs, dongles and wires — and when the whole thing is set up it looks completely ugly. Not like that beautiful thing they bought in the showroom," said Tognazzini, a principal at Nielsen Norman Group.

While Apple is expected to continue to put a heavier emphasis on software services than on hardware, Tognazzini said the company should focus on maintaining its reputation as the world leader in making beautiful products. "Where they have slipped since the death of Steve Jobs is in making products that are beautiful to use, and that are efficient and powerful," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

"They've been consistently stripping important capabilities out of their operating system to make it appear simpler," said Tognazzini. "We've seen Tim Cook wake up to this and start talking about turning out a Mac Pro that's useful."

His comments were made ahead of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, an event that is as important for software engineers who build on the iOS platform as it is for investors.

"I'm going to be watching to see whether Apple [is] ... going back to the twin focus of beautiful-to-sell as well as beautiful-to-use," he said.