There’s something odd about Sony’s new Vaio YB series of 11-inch laptops.
The oddity doesn’t manifest itself in the usual markers of a laptop purchase decision—the machines have good technical specifications and come bundled with all the requisite software. Instead, it’s the growing importance of an oft-overlooked design factor—colour.
The Vaio YB can only be bought in green, pink or silver. No conformist black. No Apple-aping white.
Laptops clockwise from top: ASUS: Eee PC Karim Rashid edition, Rs 26,990; HP: Moni Vivienne Tam edition, Rs 21,990; Dell: Inspiron Mini Pink, Rs 18,000; Sony: Vaio C Green, Rs54,990.
The long-held dominance of black and white is being challenged on multiple fronts. Silver is now the hue of choice for premium executive laptops, from Dell’s Adamo to Apple’s MacBook Pro. India’s laptop makers have also seen an increase in sales after launching special edition variants based on the work of famous designers. Asus launched a series of notebooks designed by product designer Karim Rashid (in hot pink and coffee brown), while Hewlett-Packard (HP) launched a special edition “Mini” laptop by fashion designer Vivienne Tam, both in 2010. Dell India launched Design Studio, which lets users personalize their laptop lid with a choice of artwork. “Dell Design Studio was a huge hit with our customers and we are coming with a whole new set of colour and pattern offerings this summer,” says Shishir Singh, Dell India’s director for product marketing.
Then there’s pink. The colour is a constant presence, across categories, models and brands. There’s Lenovo’s floral design for the IdeaPad S10-3s, which bleeds on to the palm rest. Pink even makes an appearance in usually dour “executive” models, like Sony’s S series. “The consumer base is getting increasingly diversified,” says Sachin Thapar, the head of Sony India’s gaming and IT business. “Colour preferences are blending with lifestyle requirements and demand for vivid colours is on the rise.”
But most of this experimentation takes place at the lower end of the market, with the so-called sub-Rs20,000 “netbook” category. “When people see a price point of Rs30,000 or above, they tend to get a little conservative with colour,” says Ashish Gupta, the category head for mobility and product development at HP PSG India. He calls black, red and blue the “core colours” of the laptop business, responsible for 75% of all sales. But the rest are infecting new categories, establishing a presence even in mid-range and premium laptops. “What we tend to do is introduce a special edition, or a new colour variant, at least four times a year, once in each quarter,” Gupta says.
For those looking for a bit more vibrancy in their daily computing, some of the options are pictured here.