iPad Pro Backpack - Behind the Exciting New Design
The latest in a series of interviews about the story behind the design of MacCase products.
For this interview, we are again speaking to MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's new iPad Pro Backpack.
JKD - The iPad Pro backpack is the company's first nylon model geared towards a tablet. What do you want potential customers to know about this new model?
MS - Like any of our other models, first and foremost, the product protects. It's an unspoken promise we make with every sale. We've done the absolute best we can to insure that under the majority of conditions and situations you may find yourself in, this iPad Pro backpack will protect your investment.
When you combine the layers of fabric and foam of the included iPad Pro Sleeve with the layers of fabric and foam of the backpack, you have a system that is incredibly protective. Let's face it, the iPad Pro is one expensive piece of hardware for what it is. If you plan on moving it through the world, you'd better be sure it's protected. This new iPad Pro backpack answers than call and then some.
JDK - I know you like to talk about the value quotient. Why is this bag a great value as well as being super protective?
MS - What makes this backpack different from what many other laptop case companies who make backpacks do is that we include one of our custom iPad Pro sleeves with the pack. You can call it a bundle, combo, package, whatever. At the end of the day, you're getting two excellent protective, stylish, well designed, well built products for an incredibly low price. You get the proven protection of our iPad Pro Sleeve that goes into what is already an excellent backpack plus the accessory pouch for under $80. Show me a better all around deal of the same quality?
One of our employees purchased a backpack for around $35 at a big box store because her daughter really wanted it. It has ponies or unicorns on it. She asked me what I thought and I said, "Well let's see how it holds up". A month later she brought it in and it was ready for the landfill.
I don't know when we crossed over to a culture that only buys on discount vs. buying on quality or value. It's sad. How is buying a $35 bag every other month better or most cost effective than buying an $80 bag once every 4-5 years?
JDK - Are you speaking about your employee or just making a general observation about the state of buying public?
MS - No, no, I am speaking in terms of most people's shopping habits vs say, what people looked for, or what motivated a purchase 25 or 30 years ago. I know why my employee purchased the pack she did and that is fine. Her daughter didn't care if she could get one of ours for free. Ponies are important when your 8.
It boggle's my mind how someone can drop $900 on a piece of hardware like an iPad Pro, then immediately look for the absolute cheapest case they can find to put it in. Would you park your new Ferrari in a refrigerator box?
Thankfully, these are typically not our customers. But they are out there.
JDK - So getting back to the new iPad Pro backpack, can sleeve and pack be used separately?
MS - Yes! That is what is so great about this package. You can use them separately or together. If you have a rolling bag that you want to use and you want to put your iPad Pro in it, you have the sleeve that came with the backpack that you can then use to protect your Apple tablet in the roller. If you want to use the backpack to take to the gym, you leave the sleeve and the computer at home and throw your gym stuff in the backpack and you're off to the gym. It's the most versatile backpack out there for the iPad Pro.
JDK - It seems like the heart of the new model is the iPad Pro Sleeve. Tell us more about that.
MS - Yeah, why haven't you done one of these behind the design stories on this new Sleeve? It's our first redesign of a nylon sleeve since, well, ever! Our product life cycles are way to long! (laughing).
JDK - Well let's do it now. This is the iPad Pro Sleeve that you sell separately for $29.95?
MS - Yes, that's correct. The design is based around the center stripe that creates the pocket for the Apple Pencil. I've seen a few of the iPad Pro cases and sleeves for the iPad Pro that have come out and how they are handling the Pencil is scary. There is a huge difference between holding the Pencil and protecting the Pencil. Our nylon sleeve, like all our iPad Pro cases, are designed from the ground up to protect the Pencil, not just hold it.
If I am dropping $100 on the Pencil, there is no way I am just sliding into some elastic loop that was sewn on to the outside of the case as an afterthought. There is going to be a lot of angry iPad Pro owners who are using inferior iPad Pro cases with poor storage solutions whose Pencils are going to be lost. Those folks will not be MacCase customers. No way.
JDK - So you have the Pencil pocket and 4 additional pockets as well?
MS - Yes, this is something we looked at on and off for many years. How to integrate pockets into the overall sleeve design without it having look like a malignancy. As the things that people would want to carry in exterior pockets have gotten smaller and smaller, adding pockets become more and more aesthetically attainable.
The last thing I wanted was to have something that looked tacked on or applied. Thats what I love about the Pencil pocket. It's integrated so well. And the fact that it's under the flap makes it all the more special, it provides so much safety.
The other accessory pockets came about from the desire to do something different and slick. Again, I work towards ever increasing levels of integration. Are the materials, textures and color changes just for show? It that just styling? I think a lot of potential customers will be delighted to find out that they are in fact completely functional parts of the design. The color and texture change are there to highlight the functionality.
JDK - It comes with an accessory pouch as well?
MS - Yes, this is really the icing on the cake. They make great companions to any of our iPad Pro cases. Apple makes all their cables, chargers, and other accessories white. The cables especially are a sticky white rubbery material. And while they do a great job of looking pretty when they are new, they also do a great job of attracting dirt. Everything that lands at the bottom of whatever bag you are using will stick to them. 3 year olds are jealous of how much dirt the Apple accessories can attract.
So we designed these little 6" x 6" x 1" pouches to hold all of the expensive Apple accessories. They keep them safe so they don't come to harm during transport and they keep them clean as well. They're simple, they work and one is included as part of the iPad Pro Backpack. We have some new color matched, extra large ones that are also available if you need more than the one that comes with the pack.
JKD - It seems like you have a lot invested in the iPad Pro. There is talk that the tablet is not doing as well as Apple had hoped. Does this worry you?
MS - Every product has to find it's audience. The Pro is physically huge. It's a big thing to lug around compared to an Air. And it's heavy for something you handle in that way. That's why you need a MacCase sleeve, case or backpack to put it in and keep it safe! (Laughing). I see a lot of people, a lot of creative people, people who like to draw, loving the Pro / Pencil combo. It's opening up new doors for them.
This idea that everything Apple does has to be a home run is nonsense. It was created by the Apple hating, mainstream media to give Apple an artificially high sales standard to always have to live up to and then if they don't, the media can say Apple has failed. It's a set up.
Steve Jobs took chances on products all the time. If you want to lead, it's what you have to. Some will be home runs, some won't. Is the Pro for everyone? Maybe, maybe not. My job is to make sure that the people who make the investment in one can find us. And when they do, we deliver on the promise of providing innovative, beautiful, functional protection for their Apple portable executed at a highest level of quality and value. I think the new iPad Pro backpack just does that.