Friday, January 18, 2008

Among the Mac Faithful

I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance this year to attend the MacWorld Expo. Since I now own a Mac, I thought I should go and see what all the fuss is about. Maybe someday I'll find a way to attend the CES.

The Expo was split into two areas of the convention center. It's funny being at a convention center when I'm actually a consumer rather than an observer. For my job, I attend some rather specialized conventions and only have a distant interest or understanding of what's being sold at the booths.

Having some computer experience in my background, I can appreciate the idea of all the technical offerings but didn't bother stopping to look. What was fun for me was seeing how companies have created markets to capitalize on the desire to individualize and retain a chic feel to being an Apple fan.

I myself look at accessories from a more practical stand point. When I want to protect my iPod from scratching and dents, I look for a durable, scratch-resistant case. That falls along the lines of brands like Speck, iSkins, DLO, and other manufacturers of gadgets cases. There are also the boutique outfitters that cater to people who spend crazy money to show off, like the iPod cases studded with rhinestones.

What hadn't occurred to me is buying a sheath of art to protect my iPod (or iPhone). Gelaskins are these durable plastic sheets that are cut to specifically fit Apple electronics. The deal here is that they offer a variety of art covers. They can be funky anime drawings, geometric patterns, dark images, modern art, etc. It reminds me of the designs I see on kids' snowboards and skateboards. (Am I dating myself somehow?)

Did I also mention that I'm cheap? So these skins cost $15 for handhelds and $30 for a laptop. I know they'll last a couple years by which time you'll be tired of the design, but it still seems like a lot for a sheet of plastic. Who knows, maybe I'll give in next year.

All these little companies are trying to customize commodity products to make an extra buck. Another great idea I saw had these cute creatures - penguins, mini ipods, and other cute reptiles made from silicone. They stand about two inches tall and conceal usb memory stick from 1GB to 8G. So instead of paying a couple buck for a stick, you pay $20 for 1GB that happens to be disguised as a penguin key chain.

My brain was overstimulated with all the accessory booths, so I stopped for 30 minutes to hear a talk about the exciting new Office 2008. Okay, I admit it, I was really there hoping to win a prize from the free drawing. It was cool, but I'm never going to be doing any desktop publishing. Office 2004 is just fine for me.

One booth wins my award for most unique booth. The booth looked like a castle or fortress with a large mobile dangling overhead. When I cam across it, my thought was that it was a cross between the artwork of Monty Python and Escher. I overheard one person described the company as Australian maker of bags. The one thing I regret not buying was this bag because I think it would be great as a way to have my purse and camera case in one for traveling. I had no idea the discounts for some items are better than prices you can find at the store AND the tax is already included in the price!

The crowds inside the Apple area were immense as you might imagine. Everyone wanted to touch the new MacBook Air. Is it really as it looks in the ads? Yes, yes it is that cool. I couldn't believe how small it was. And yet, I felt like I had ample screen to surf the Internet. If I owned this, it would probably be attached to me day and night (which Tim would be absolutely annoyed about). If I were to use one of my larger shoulder purses, it would easily fit inside with space to spare. Now if I only had $2000 laying around... .

I'm not a devoted Mac fan but I can definitely see the draw of it all. It's like when you see other kids in school and want to be cool like them. I spent more than three hours wandering the convention floor. My bags weren't filled to the brim with goodies as I left the convention center. Still, I must admit, I lost a little cash buying a silicone keyboard cover and some gorillapods. If it wasn't for the iPods, the crowds attending the show would be very different. Because the iPod is so ubiquitous it definitely attracts a wider interest be it the tech geeks, surfer/boarder crowd, business professionals, and teens. It really opened my eyes to the small world of Mac that I currently expose myself to. I'm never going to need the hardcore Adobe Creative Suite or a music studio complete with Gibson guitar, but it's fun knowing I could have them.

1 comment:

teahouse said...

I've always been a PC user, but I recently got an iPod Nano as a present. I'm really into the cute plastic sheaths!