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Why the design of the Macbook Air is timeless - fixedByVonnie

Why the design of the Macbook Air is timeless

Instead of bulldozing a prolix of facts about Apple’s business model, unique design teams and resilient grip on the computing markets, I’ve decided to go in a different direction.

Where are all my PC fans?

Let me speak to you first:

I know you love to vituperate Apple for selling overpriced trash cans (you’ve seen the new Mac Pro right?) when you can build a similar system for a fraction of the cost.

Admittedly, this objection is usually merited but there’s a substantive difference between an assertion and an argument.

Simply brandishing your PC’s power supply like a tazer while threatening to zap your best friends Mac may temporarily mollify your abhorrence for Macs but it doesn’t answer the question:

If Mac’s are so damn expensive, why do people keep buying them?

Apple is still refulgent

Everyone thought the death of Steve Jobs portended the death of Apple; however, the facts suggest just the opposite.  Since Job’s death on October 5th 2011, Apple’s financials continue to hum a tune that beats to the drum of success.

The App Store continues to thive and the stock price was recently slashed in an unconventional 7-for-1 split.

Yes, I know valuation isn’t contingent on stock splits since all you end up doing is bumping up the the number of shares while pulling down the price by the same factor; however, the split could become the catalyst that fuels trading volume.

Apple’s stock was perpetually trading at stratospheric heights.

In the fall of 2012, Apple’s stock mushroomed to an awe inspiring $705 dollars per share.  Sure, this is no where in proximity to Berkshire Hathaway’s $3,476 price per share in 2010; however, when prices boast seven hundred bones, it can causes investors to trade less.  Thus, the stock split may galvanize trading and therefore improve liquidity.  This could all have a positive benefit on Apple’s financial refulgence.

But I don’t want to talk about stocks and splits today because I barely understand it.  Instead, I just want to focus on why the design of Macbook Air is timeless.

What it means to be timeless

Creative luminary Jonathan Ive is the man behind the svelte curves and slim physique of the Macbook air.

Image Credit Marco Pakoeningrat via Flickr

His classic design continues to inveigle ambivalent buyers teetering between PC’s and Macs and he continues to champion Job’s posthumous vision long after his death.

But here’s my question:

How can you create a product that people crave, no…  lust for, and will do almost anything to get it?

In New York City it gets hot.  In fact – some summers are so torrid that the soles of your shoes start to stick to the sidewalk; yet, this doesn’t deter avid Apple fans from baking in line as they wait for the latest Apple release.

With desiccated throats and drenched t-shirts, the interminable line of Apple addicts seems to grow longer each year.

What’s the deal?

In an earlier post, I explicated why I think the world is riveted by Apple but I didn’t zero in on what it means to be timeless.  I think this sense of timelessness is the very nexus of what keeps the Apple heart pumping financial blood through its system.

So what does it mean to be timeless?

A timeless design or product is one that is immutable.  And it doesn’t change because it doesn’t have to change.

For example, even amid the sea of streaming music sites such as Spotify and Rdio, the CD is still a timeless product.  Bar soap and Bottle Water are other timeless products.

Timeless products are unscathed by the vicissitudes of events. These products stand tall regardless of the vagaries of life and generally enjoy consistent revenue streams.

The Macbook Air design just works and honestly doesn’t need to be redesigned (and that’s why it hasn’t be refreshed since 2010).

But even if you’re an exponent of revamping the Air, if you were in Jonathan Ive’s position: what exactly would you do with it?

  • Make it lighter?
  • Make it thinner?
  • Make the screen bigger?

Hmm… let’s consider the outcomes.

Why exactly does the Air need to be lighter than it already is?  The last I checked, the Air was an exiguous 2.38 pounds.  Do we really need something lighter than that?  And what would you call it, the Macbook Helium?

And what about making it thinner?  The depth at its thinnest point is already a minuscule 0.68 inches.  That’s freggin’ anorexic!

And what about enlarging the screen and increasing the pixel density?  Well, that’s about as fatuous an idea as making a smartphone with a larger screen every year until it’s no longer called a phone.

Today everyone has a phone tablet (phablet) and it seems that manufacturers are always on the verge of making larger screens with more precise, higher fidelity pixel densities.

But what’s the point of making a phone display so big that I can barely fit it in my front pocket?

Apple doesn’t need to release a 17-inch Macbook Air.  Why?  Because no one needs a 17 inch Macbook Air!

As other companies hone their talents on making lighter, thinner, bigger laptops Apple has prudently adhered to what it does best: making people envy.

We envy products like the Macbook Air not because it’s a computer (other companies have computers too) but because it suggests exclusivity.  

The Apple brand has an inimitable quality of hip that no one has emulated.

That’s because when you buy the Air you’re not just buying a computer you’re buying an image.  But you’re really not even buying an image either. Apple is selling you a feeling, an intangible quality that is the sine quo non of being human:


And until someone else figures out how to make us feel the way Apple does – Apple will enjoy a lucrative edge for many years to come.


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