Although much of Apple was acquired by Pixar Animations Studio (see the related article earlier in this issue), some hardware divisions were sold off. In a move that surprised many industry analysts, the PowerBook division was exchanged for a $1 million gem-encrusted brassiere (reportedly now worn by Ellen Hancock in Apple/Pixar soaps) and will now be under the control of the well-known lingerie chain, Victoria's Secret.
Said Kelly Kahn, VP of Technology Acquisitions, "Modern women don't just want to look great, they want to function effectively in a chaotic, information-rich world. PowerBooks are the management tool of choice, and we look forward to improving the line to better meet fashion needs. Take the stylish eMate 300: we plan to move the PowerBook line in that direction, with more colorful, fun looking cases, slimmer profiles, and vastly improved customer support."
In time for Boston Macworld this year, Victoria's Secret plans to ship a series of HotSurfer PowerBooks. These machines will be based on the Duo line, but Victoria's Secret has eschewed the use of numbers to describe machines. Ms. Kahn commented, "We could have named them with numbers, but we felt that HotSurfer much more aptly describes the new line." An important innovation in the HotSurfers will be a second drive bay designed either to hold a hot-swappable storage device or a special purse. The new PowerBooks will have strong enough shells that for many events a protective carrying case won't be necessary. By stowing a wallet and other essentials in the purse, HotSurfer owners can attend such events looking "streamlined and elegant," not "burdened with accessories."
In addition, to help users avoid the awkward look and feel of operating a computer attached to a snake's nest of cables, the company is aggressively partnering with technology companies that support wireless communications.
Victoria's Secret also plans a new line of PowerBook cases. Cassie Connolly, Director of Accessory Fashions explained, "Most of today's PowerBook cases operate on a functional level only. Our customers want cases that express personality or inject a humorous note. Cases will range from elegant satin or velvet items to whimsical options, decorated with lace, silk flowers, and faux fruit." Straw cases will be sold only in warmer climates; look for quilting and polar fleece in colder areas. The buzz on the street suggests that a matching line of hats may be in the making.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the buyout, though, is that every Victoria's Secret store is adding a special PowerBook sales area right up front. Many big malls have a Victoria's Secret store, and with the displays slated to combine eye-popping models holding slick looking PowerBooks, not only should business should be brisk, but consumers should see the Macintosh portable market in a more favorable light. Executives at Power Computing are already working with Victoria's Secret on sublicensing and cross-marketing deals.
Will Victoria's Secret introduce unisex- or male-oriented PowerBook models? Ms. Kahn noted, "We don't want guys to feel excluded - sure, our cases will appeal more to women, at least in the short term. However, we think we can make PowerBooks that appeal to both sexes. We don't look at our upcoming PowerBooks so much as for one sex or another, but for people who have fashion sense or want to look glamorous while computing."