Custom MacBook Pro Cases - Behind the Designs
The latest in a series of interviews about the story behind the design of MacCase products. or in their case, a new MacCase program.
For this interview, we are again speaking to MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's new Custom MacBook Pro Cases program. The new Custom Program will allow customers to choose a whole host of options to build a unique, one of a kind case to transport and protect their Apple laptop.
Why Custom MacBook Pro Cases?
JKD: This program seems to have come out of nowhere. When did you first get the idea to do custom MacBook Pro cases? How long has this been brewing?
MS: It goes back quite a long way actually. In the early days of the Premium Leather Collection we had a customer call and ask if we could do a complete set of leather custom MacBook Pro cases to match his Ferrari 360 Modena. The car was the classic red with a tan interior with red stitching. He wanted one version of each of our models in tan leather with red stitching to match the interior of the 360. I spoke to our production director about it and we decided to try it.
A few weeks later we delivered a complete set of custom MacBook Pro cases, tan leather with red stitching, to this customer who was thrilled with the results. That experience planted the seed about doing more of this in the future. Well, someday is right now, so here we are.
Moving the Custom Case Program Forward
JKD: What changed between then and now that made you move forward with the custom MacBook Pro case program?
MS: It's a combination of things. When we created the Apple specific case market there was really no one else doing what we were doing. Then everybody caught up. Then we moved upmarket with our Premium Leather Collection taking Apple portable protection to a whole new level. This created another band of copycats and bandwagon jumpers who have tried to do what we do. Unlike the nylon models, I don't think they've quite caught up to our leather cases in terms of quality, engineering and overall design. We work really hard to stay out front.
I talked to a customer this morning who has been using our 17" MacBook Pro Flight Jacket since 2010. That's a 7 year old case that he told me, gets used every day. Other than some wear on the pipping, the case looked brand new and will easily last another 7 years, if not longer. How many other $200 cases are lasting a decade or longer? How many $200 cases can you buy that are still aesthetically pleasing after a decade?
So we know we are building some of, if not, the best cases in the industry. Our cases last longer than the computers they are designed to carry. That's the opposite of planned obsolesce! (laughing).
You need to have that confidence in your product before you begin to offer something like what we are doing with these custom MacBook Pro cases. Our designs are proven. The protection they provide has been proven. The way they are engineered has been proven.
These very large components of product and program development are all in place. Building products with the level of quality we've achieved enables you to concretize an idea like a custom laptop case program. If you're going to ask someone to pay a premium for a custom piece, you have to make sure you can deliver. We have the upmost confidence we will. That's a good feeling.
JKD: So how did this start? How did you go from something you did once several years ago to something you've been thinking about to let's do this?
MS: Several months ago we had a long time customer call and asked if we could make a custom MacBook Pro case that used smooth black leather vs. our standard pebble grain textured hide. We used smooth black leather on our original iPad sleeve so I know we had access to it.
So, just like our Ferrari customer, I discussed it with our production director and we decided to move forward with the build. Around the same time, we had another call from another customer who was saying he loved our iPad Pro Briefcase but wanted it for his 15" MacBook Pro Touch Bar and 12.9 iPad Pro. This was a model we did not make at the time.
Two calls in a row from the universe asking for custom pieces. Hmm.....
Here were these requests coming in from long time customers who knew what they wanted and wanted it from MacCase. It was at that time that I started to think about a more formal way to present a custom MacBook Pro case program to all our customers and potential customers.
The Custom MacBook Pro Case Form
JKD: What shape did that ultimately take? Are you talking about the new page on your website?
MS: All of the custom builds that we had done or were doing up until that point resulted from me talking to customers on the phone, one on one. I wanted to have a way for any customer who, after looking through the MacBook Pro cases that we offered, could go to a place on our site and build a made to order, bespoke, custom MacBook Pro case at any time.
I looked at several options to do this. The ultimate would be to have a configurator like they have on the luxury and exotic car sites. These are pages where you can build your dream car by choosing the exterior color, interior colors, materials, thread color, etc. You can spin the car around in 3-D while you are doing it so it's somewhat interactive. It's fun but from a programming standpoint, very expensive to do.
While that might be the ultimate user experience, there was no way we could sign up to build something like that for an unproven program. Most of our customers and potential customers know what kind of MacCase they want. It might be an iPad Pro Folio or a MacBook Pro Sleeve or Flight Jacket. If they're a returning customer, they know the product. If they are a new customer, they'll spend the time to get to know the product, looking at the images, watching videos or calling and talking to me about a product.
If you know you are dealing with bright, intelligent people to start with, they will be pretty good at using their imagination to picture the case they want. What we needed was a way to present the options to them and a way for the options they chose to be presented back to us.
A form was a way for the customer to pick the base MacCase model they wanted to use for the custom MacBook Pro case and all the options they would spec for the build. We could take the output and get generate quote.
Customer Service for Custom MacBook Pro Cases
JKD: So the customer doesn't see a price when they're done filling out the form?
MS: Correct. Maybe at some point we will have all the known costs associated with the 4800+ options and combinations available. But for now, each build is unique and we treat is as such. Some details are behind the scope of the form so giving a quote would be inaccurate and just cause confusion.
There is a lot of hand holding that goes on with building a "one of one" piece. It's special and customers are getting a lot of individual attention. That fits within the overall MacCase aesthetic. I know you think I'm crazy for still answering the phones myself. I think it's important to stay connected.
JKD: So the customer submits the form, what happens next?
MS: The short answer is we review the requirements and send the customer a draft invoice with a quote for the build. Once they review the quote they can click a link in the quote and pay for their custom MacBook Pro case. We will receive the order and pencil in a production slot for their one of a kind piece to be built.
JKD: This is very exciting and I cannot wait to see what gets created.
MS: Thanks Jody, me too!
"Doing custom MacBook Pro cases requires a lot of time and special attention..."