And the Winner for Best Advertising Prop of 2008 is... A Manilla Envelope?!


The genius of Steve Jobs is not just his ability to inspire designers to create computers which look great and work well, he also has a way of presenting things which inspire potential customers to root for the company as well. I mean, I watched the introduction of the iPhone last year and was juiced! Even though the chances were next to nil that I’d ever be getting one. But I think Jobs took things to a new level at this year’s MacWorld conference.

Even though he wasn’t introducing the iPod; even though we were looking at a pretty standard lineup of products for a computer show (a new thinner laptop, a wireless router with a hard drive attached, a television console, et cetera), Jobs still managed to blow everybody away with his introduction of a new product, the MacBook Air.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s an elegant machine: an aluminum casing and a small profile that doesn’t skimp on features too much. Supposedly it’s the world’s thinnest laptop, and I can see how business travellers might want one (for the sake of their shoulders). However, I’m quite happy with my black Macbook, thankyouverymuch, with its faster CPU, larger hard drive, the ability to upgrade that hard drive and RAM, and the ability to replace my battery. Oh, and also the ability to run multiple devices off of it, instead of just two (if that; you couldn’t have put in an a Firewire drive, Mr. Jobs?). I don’t anticipate switching to something that would represent a downgrade, just to shave off a few pounds.

So, I look at this laptop on the screen, and am mildly impressed by its appearance and its specifications. But overall it’s just a shrug. Until Jobs states that the computer can fit into your standard interoffice mail manilla envelope. “Which I just happen to have right here.” And he goes over to his podium and picks up an interoffice mail envelope which has been sitting innocuously there the whole time, opens it, and pulls out the Macbook Air.

Judging from the gasps in the audience, that was sheer genius.

It’s the little surprises that add the zing to the presentation, I think. Looking through the treasure trove of previous Steve Jobs keynote speeches, I note that he unveiled Apple Computer’s transition to Intel chips with the statement “and this machine (which had been running the presentation screen the whole time) is one such example.” It’s hiding in plain sight.

Anyway, the manilla envelope gambit looks set to pay off, as two people picked up on the image and ran with it, producing a velvet computer case in the form and appearance of a manilla envelope. The handmade product, made of “durable upholstery-grade vinyl and lined with fuzzy, soft fleece,” will supposedly be ready to ship in time for the new Macbooks to arrive.

I’m always impressed when ordinary, unassuming things are put to unexpected uses, and I think this qualifies.

Other Quick Links

The entire Republican presidential field recast as Buffy villains? Actually, it’s scary how well some of them match. Hat tip to the Vanity Press.

Picture This:

“Researchers from the University of Tokyo are … team[ing] up with the brains behind the Japan Origami Airplane Association to develop an origami aircraft that’ll supposedly be capable of surviving the flight from the International Space Station to the Earth’s surface.

Hat tip to Engadget.

Which is just so cool, isn’t it?

Blacker than Black

And also courtesy of Engadget, I learned that scientists have created the darkest manmade material in existence. Thanks to a “forest” of carbon nanotubes, they now have a substance that is the best of anything in terms of the absorption of light, and the worst of anything in terms of the reflection of light.

“The application will be to things like more efficient solar cells, more efficient solar panels and any application where you need to harvest light…”

And thus the potential for commercially feasible solar power increases. But unfortunately the article doesn’t answer the question I want to know: can you make fabric out of this stuff for the blackest dresses ever? You know, for the Goth set?

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