The Keeper of the iBook

Girly Men Need Not Apply

By Mark Newhouse, <>
April 17, 2000

The iBook had been announced, but aside from those who were able to fondle the machines at the MacWorld Expo, no one had any real world experience with them. Much like those who have written critical articles about OS X's Aqua interface without benefit of actually using it, John Dvorak wrote an inflammatory opinion piece about how the iBook would never make it, being too girly for the typical business person to carry around; and by a handle no less. Dvorak has received his well-deserved wrath already, so I will not add any today. Fast-forward six months and the iBook is a rousing success - the top selling notebook computer of the quarter. And there are no signs of slowing with the recent introduction of the Revision B and SE models.

But what of real world experience? I have had possession of a Tangerine iBook for several months now, and have found that none of the criticisms about its appearance that have been directed at it are valid.

The handle makes it, well, handleable

Eolake Stobblehouse of MacCreator wrote a great essay that makes this very point. By building a handle into the machine, Apple has made some that cries put to be touched, caressed and handled. Not to mention that it is very practical.

I take the bus to and from work, and use the iBook during the commute. One day the bus I usually take was running very late, so I hopped on another bus going the same way. After about a mile the bus I usually ride was coming up behind us. I signaled for the bus to stop at the next stop and saved my work on the iBook, closed the lid, waited a second for the chirp of the hard drive to spin down, grabbed the handle and I was on my way. I could feel the eyes on me as I exited one bus and entered the next. I didn't feel the least bit girly, quite the opposite in fact. I enjoyed the silent attention.

The shape and colors are too loud

Similar criticism was laid at the feet of the iMac, which has gone on to become the best selling computer of all time. The distinctive color and shape of the iBook says something about the user. I like the fact that you can't ignore me when I pull out my iBook on the bus and go to work. And the attention it receives at meetings where I use it has all been positive. People want to touch it, and try it out. Some want to know its specs, or what software it can run. Depending on who I am talking to, I fire up Word, or Virtual PC, but what always gets them is Bugdom - especially when I tell them that it came free with the iBook.

I have yet to experience any derision from using a Tangerine iBook, in fact everyone who encounters it, from the children on the bus, to the men in the board meetings, leaves the experience with a smile on their face.

I have yet to see a PC laptop do that.

Mark Newhouse is the Web Designer for the public outreach arm of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories in Tucson, AZ, where he proudly and confidently looks for excuses to use the iBook in public.

The iBook image is courtesy Apple Computer, Inc. The iBook icon is courtesy the Iconfactory.

ibook iconMore Keeper of the iBook:

Keeper of the iBook Copyright © 2000, Mark Newhouse, all rights reserved

Keeper of the iBook, new every Monday