12 MacBook Backpack - Behind the Innovative Design
Third 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 12 MacBook Backpack.
JKD - This is the first of several new Apple specific backpacks based on your current backpack design. Why not do something brand new?
MS - That's a good question and I think it comes down to two things. The first being that it's not really my style to have endless solutions to what is essentially the same problem. In this case, how to protect and transport Apple's vulnerable 12 MacBook model. Other bag companies, especially the more mainstream ones have hundreds of models or let's say several dozen across a broad array of price points. And backpacks are all they do or is 80% of their business. Well it's 80% of their business because they have so many models but they're all basically the same form factor. They change the colors, sizes and some of the details but nothing really radical is going on across the line.
MacCase is about a lot of form factors. They are trying to solve a bunch of problems with the same form factor. We are trying to solve a similar set of problems with an assortment of form factors, with the backpack being one of many. They say we are in an age of specialization and maybe that's true. But it's much more interesting to me to designs a broad range of products vs. having 10 traditional backpacks in the line.
Which leads me to the second part of my answer. We spent a lot of time on the new Universal design. It's been out almost a year and is still the best bag of it's kind of the money. So we tweaked it and added some things to it to make it Apple specific and an even better value. We didn't need to reinvent the wheel. The base we had to work off of was excellent so that's what we did.
JKD - So what were the goals for the 12 MacBook Backpack?
MS - Unlike a lot of the backpack companies out there, MacCase doesn't just put a backpack out there and hope for the best regarding fit and protection. If it's a Apple specific sleeve, bag or case we try to make sure the fit is perfect. When we approached the 12 MacBook, we had a opportunity to do something innovative in the tradition of MacCase backpack design.
JKD - So the 12 MacBook Backpack is special because…..
MS - Almsot all, if not all laptop backpacks are designed to hold the the laptop vertically, inline with the long axis of the backpack and the person wearing it. We do this too. It's standard practice in packaging the elements. But for the 12 MacBook backpack, we did something different. We turned the computer on it's side so it' horizontal to the world and perpendicular to the long axis of the backpack.
JKD - And this is special because?
MS - The first thing this does is lower the center of gravity for the pack and therefore lowers the center of gravity for the person wearing it. This increases stability and make it less awkward to do things like walk, ride a bike, etc. It also takes the pressure off your shoulders and upper spine having the weight lower down respectively.
The second thing it does is creates a much safer place for the 12" MacBook, which, let's face it, is not the much stout computer out there. It's so light and thin and fragile. It can do with all the protection you can offer it. So we offered it a lot. It sits way down in the built-in horizontal sleeve so it's nearly completely covered by the walls of foam and liner. It's very secure, will not rattle around and will be safe from any other items, hardware or otherwise, that you might choose to put inside.
So those are two very important benefits to the customer. One helps them move through the day easier and the other helps protect their investment. That's good stuff and helps set apart from everyone else.
JKD - It sound like you spend a lot of time thinking about these types of things, making your products better, improving the user experience and value to you customer...
MS - I hope so ( laughing). That's sort of my job. I wear a lot of hats. I like to. But there is none more important than the one that says "designer". We've been doing this a long time now. So many bag companies have come and gone since the first MacCase was created which seems like a 100 years ago now. I'd like to think if we went away that our customers would miss us. We try to do the best work we can. put the best product out there we can. It's not about widgets and nickels and dimes for us. We care. We do the best we can with what we have. We don't always get it right. No one does. Show me a band whose every album is great.
I when I was in this entrepreneur training program called "Fast Track" we were told the most important thing you can have is a "sustainable competitive advantage". At MacCase we have that, it's called my brain, (laughing).
I just saw on ebags that they were promoting a certain backpack saying it was their #1 laptop backpack. There was absolutely nothing new or innovative or interesting about it. Not a single thing. It was the backpack version of a beige Toyota Camry. ZZZZZzzzzzz. It looked like you were going camping. It had great distribution and good brand equity so people can see it and find and and know the brand so they buy it. But there is a number of people who'll look at that pack and think, I want something better. I don't want to look like I'm going camping. I don't want to look like everybody else and I for sure don't want something that exceeds so brilliantly at being so utterly uninteresting. That person will find MacCase, find our 12 MacBook Backpack and say, yeah, that's what I want. That works. That's me. And I know this because I talk to one of those people at least once a day.
JKD - Thanks again for your time.
MS - Always a pleasure Jody.