Tech companies push stylish, personal design

Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:43am EST
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By Gabriel Madway

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - With consumers showing an appetite for stylish personal devices, PC and gadget makers will need more than just vibrant colors, rounded edges or an elegant metallic finish to stand out in a crowded market.

PC users are increasingly interested in what's on the outside as much as what's on the inside. And as the market shifts to laptops from desktops, computers are more portable and hence more visible, making them as much of a design statement as a purse or a pair of shoes.

Richard Shim, a PC analyst with IDC, said it's all part of a larger trend of "hyper-specialization" in notebooks.

"Personalization is becoming a big differentiator. It's just a question of how far you can take it and how much money you can get for it," he said.

With many competing technology products delivering similar performance, some consumers will be looking as much at style and flair as they do microprocessors and gigabytes.

" want to take the focus off speeds and feeds and put it on something else, because it's pretty hard to differentiate yourself," said NPD analyst Stephen Baker.

Design has always played a role in technology products. Apple Inc has long been acknowledged for its minimalist, sleek products such as Macintosh computers and iPhones. But now, consumers can tailor the look of many other gadgets.

In addition to offering a variety of personalized "skins" -- molded coverings that consumers affix to their computers to change the color or design of the device's exterior -- PC makers are ranging farther afield to come up with new designs.   Continued...

<p>Debby Lee of Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc. media relations holds an Asus Eco Book made partly from bamboo in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2007. REUTERS/Kimberly White</p>