The Fashionista Notebook, Will It Catch On With Its Intended Audience?

Getty Images

Getty Images

The original Eee PC 2G Surf came in black, white, baby pink, spring green, and sky blue. When I saw that, I wondered if those colors would be for the kinds of people (okay, women) who bought Hello Kitty electronics. Yes, it’s very cute. But should a laptop, even a tiny laptop, be “cute”? I would prefer other colors: forest green, dark blue (thank you, Acer), fire engine red, etc. Colors that are bold and interesting, yet not limiting. Yes, there are probably some guys who would carry around a sky blue netbook. They carried iBooks, right? But even some women roll their eyes at baby pink. I mean, really, this is how companies signal “feminine”? Not always (thank goodness). Sure, Acer is bringing out a pink Aspire One—sans pink keyboard, boo—but HP is actually doing something more interesting and noteworthy with the Vivienne Tam Mini 1000. Also known as the Digital Clutch, this netbook is unabashedly for women who are into fashion, design, and trendiness. It stands out not just for the color, but for the cover design and the careful attention paid to all the details, including the keyboard. Will it catch on amongst the fashionista set? I asked fashion magazine editor Jeanine Edwards her opinion on the matter.
[The HP Mini 9 is] super cute! I definitely think it could be a hit, especially if other really big designers start doing it. I don’t know if women would use them as fashion statements, but I definitely think they’d want one because they’re fashionable.

The other netbook meant to appeal to the fashion-minded is the Eee PC S101 (slim is in!). I showed this to Jeanine as well, but she was less enthusiastic about it. “[It] honestly just looks like a regular laptop in different color. The Vivienne Tam is bolder and would be more likely to catch on.” Though it can be said that the Eee PC’s color scheme is meant to appeal to women without turning off guys, which isn’t a bad middle ground to take. I’m not personally into peonies, but I think the Vivienne Tam is a step in the right direction. More netbooks should come with patterns and designs—break away from traditional black and white and solid colors in general. If designers like Diane von Furstenberg or Takashi Murakami got in on designing netbooks the market could open up to more than just early adopters and well-informed tech consumers.

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  1. EV Says:

    Interesting post… I think the Vivienne Tam edition is nice sure, and the idea of aesthetically pleasing machines is nothing new, but charging a large premium for a design on the cover and a different color scheme won’t really fly in the market. Especially given the fickleness of netbook hardware. People can submit their own designs (or god forbid other’s designs) to skinning sites for around $30 and get a custom skin for the lid of their netbook which basically gives the same effect at a much cheaper price.

  2. K. T. Bradford Says:

    EV,

    True about the skins. And lots of people go that route. But I think you may underestimate the power of brand and of trend for the kind of people who pay $600 for shoes. (Not that I’m knocking such people. I would pay a LOT for an awesome bag, while many people would look at me like I’m crazy.) Fashionistas are used to paying a premium for a Name and perceived status symbol.

    I think it’s a combination of the design — which goes beyond just the cover, don’t forget the inside and keyboard, which is unusual, even for designed notebooks — the fashion name attached to it, and the idea that this piece of hardware is obviously targeted at women (something we do appreciate, when done right) that could make this netbook successful.

  3. ME! Says:

    meh…my company offers a discount with HP (the maker of the Vivienne Tam NoteBook) and I will admit that when I was looking over the website for options on a new notebook, the VT version caught my eye. HOWEVER…when I saw the difference in cost between the exact same notebook without the VT design cost and the VT version, I lost interest immediately. I guess that there are people who are willing to pay the difference for the version with the design, but since the applications and programs (and hardware, and so on, and so forth) are the same, I don’t think that there is really that much of a market. After all, maybe it will appeal to the type of person who is willing to spend $600 on a pair of shoes, but ultimately the type of person who is willing to spend $600 on a pair of shoes, will probably spend that money on shoes, and not on shopping for a computer. If that same person is computer savvy enough to look at the different types of computers and what is available, she (or he) will probably react like I did: what am I paying extra for? A better choice might be a compromise: designers interested in selling to the notebook carrying target audience, should probably consider selling ‘designer skins.’ The overhead in production is less, therefore the profit is more, and you are not risking compromising your brand by putting your logo on someone else’s product.

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