A Hue In Search Of A Market (9/14/00)

Okay, we wanted to a wait a day to make sure we weren't the only ones who felt this way, but does anyone like Key Lime? Not the pie, you understand, but the new "special" color available for the iBook, which is less evocative of a citrus fruit than it is of a dill pickle plugged into house current. We've been wracking our brains trying to figure out just what Apple was thinking when it approved this particular hue for public consumption. Is there a vast, untapped market of fashion-backward blind people we don't know about? Because judging solely from the photos available at Apple's web site, we're guessing that most people who stare at the case of a Key Lime iBook for more than three minutes without wearing a welder's mask are going to suffer permanent injury.

We scoured the 'net looking for opinions. Most were overwhelmingly negative, such as MacMonkey's rant that Key Lime is "ugly," "bass-ackward," and a "fiasco." We've yet to find a single "In Defense of Key Lime" article; of course, the week isn't over yet. About the closest we came was an About.com article which refers to the iBook's "great colors." While the author doesn't single out Key Lime, he does claim that he feels "the new colors are still creative and unique, but they aren't so toy-like and they have a pseudo-professional feel." Hmmm. Well, as AtAT's resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae Katie points out, the reason no one's made a Key Lime toy yet is because it would scare small children. And if anyone knows a professional-- or even a pseudo-professional-- who'd be willing to walk into a meeting of his peers swinging a Key Lime iBook, we'd love to get an autograph before he winds up on an evening news story that ends with "...before turning the gun on himself."

So is Apple setting itself up for an inventory disaster, with warehouses of unsold Key Lime iBooks glowing away like so much toxic waste (and just as hard to get rid of)? Nope-- the execs aren't that dense. Remember, Key Lime is only available through the Apple Store; it's essentially a build-to-order option. So Apple can ship thousands of Indigo and Graphite iBooks into the channel knowing they'll sell like crazy, and when (or should we say "if"?) an order for a Key Lime unit comes through the system, all the employees will gather 'round, have a good, hearty laugh, fetch the dusty box of Key Lime enclosure parts from deep storage, strap on the welder's masks, and get to work. The end-user gets his or her Key Lime iBook, Apple gets to keep its inventory numbers nice and tight, and the assembly workers get a great story about a color-blind customer to tell their loved ones at the end of the day. Everybody's happy.

But wait a sec-- hold the phone. We've finally found out who Key Lime is for. An article in MacWEEK reporting from the Expo floor claims that "Parisians seem to be leaning toward Key Lime." One attendee is quoted as saying that "Americans like their black, stern PowerBooks; we, on the other hand, enjoy the playfulness." So there you have it, folks; Key Lime is a hit among the French. We'd throw in a reference to the genius of Jerry Lewis here, but let's just chalk it up to cultural differences, assume that Apple knows exactly what it's doing with this color situation, and see what happens.

SceneLink (2548)
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The above scene was taken from the 9/14/00 episode:

September 14, 2000: Just because Steve didn't make a big thing about it doesn't mean there's no new PowerBook for sale. Meanwhile, MacWEEK discovers that there is a market for Key Lime, and a photo of a mysterious fourth iBook color scheme surfaces in a Minnesota newspaper...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2547: A New PowerBook. Sorta. (9/14/00)   Whoops-- as usual, looks like we spoke a little too soon. Evidently there is a new PowerBook out there, but before you bust out the party hats and credit cards, we should probably warn you that it's not exactly what people were expecting...

  • 2549: Don't Laugh-- It's Fashion (9/14/00)   So now everyone knows that Apple's got this new-fangled iBook, available in Indigo and Key Lime. And there's an iBook Special Edition, which comes in Graphite and-- again-- Key Lime. But how many of you knew that there's also an iBook Special Special Edition?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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