Companies have started to focus on women as key influencers in the consumer technology purchase cycle. Volvo has designed a car specifically with women in mind and employed an all female design team that focused on things like places to store a purse or notebook computer, ease of entry into the car and better visibility.
As I looked at the concept car, it reminded me of my Audi TT roadster, which I purchased based on Audi’s innovative design. Audi has done an excellent job of taking the circular rivet pattern which is reflective of their logo, and integrated it throughout the design of the car, even on the small controls in the dashboard.
The radio has a beautiful aluminum cover with the TT logo that closes to give a beautiful aesthetic to the interior of the car, and this is the type of design that many women are looking for when making this type of purchase.
The TT has a unique look that is kind of reminiscent of an older roadster that also gives it a certain cachet, so you want to show it off to your friends and people are always commenting on what a beautiful car it is. It is really fun to drive and you always feel special whenever you get behind the wheel.
Recently when I went to the opening of the new Sony store in Palo Alto, I was impressed by the clean design and interesting layout of the store, which included different rooms in a house with all their products integrated throughout.
As my husband contemplated how to get another large plasma screen television into our house, I was focused on the smallest sexiest notebook computer I had even seen, the Vaio x505, with its understated black matte cover, the sleek mirrored finished silver Vaio logo that feels sensuous to the touch, and a nickel carbon tube running along the back that is the small battery that provides up four hours of battery life.
The keyboard is well laid out with space between all the raised keys, which makes it easy even though it is small, which also works fine for women with smaller hands. The notebook weighs just 1.8 pounds and slips easily inside a large purse and is great for traveling. I felt compelled to have one, just like a beautiful pair of shoes.
Aesthetics and Function
Women are looking for aesthetics as well as function when they buy technology, and the x505 is a notebook computer that you might want to share with everyone because it is the ultimate in exquisite design. I wrote most of this article while working wirelessly at Starbucks and found myself showing it off to many of the people who were also there working on their laptops, and everyone wanted to have one.
There are comparable notebooks out there, like the Sharp Actius MM20, which sells for a lot less money at US$1,400 versus the Sony’s $3,000, but the Sharp notebook looked cheap. It was a much more boring conventional design, and sometimes to have cachet and the coolness factor you have to spend the big bucks.
Consumer Entertainment Expertise
Clearly Sony is taking its expertise in the consumer entertainment market and applying these key learnings to the PC side of the company’s business. Apple has always done an excellent job on the design of its products and I am excited to see the rest of the PC industry align themselves with a focus on clean design and strong functionality.
I admit to being a design fanatic — sometimes buying wine on the basis of the label design, hoping the wine will be as wonderful as the art on the front of the bottle. Many times I am amazed that the focus and attention to detail that went into the design of the label art also went into the wine making.
So buy a bottle of wine with a beautiful label and have a toast to the companies that are finally beginning to understand how important design and functionality are to women.
Mary Enderle is a design and brand consultant for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.