After launching the new ENVY Spectre XT Ultrabook this week, HP design executive Stacy Wolff was pressed to respond to a question regarding design, and a potential design-centric lawsuit from Apple.
The similarities between Apple’s MacBook Air and the Spectre are not as striking as with other laptops out there. In fact, Wolff defended HP’s design approach with a pertinent argument, stating the following (via Engadget
“I would go back to the TC1000 [Tablet PC] from about 10 years, and that's a tablet. I think if you look at the new Spectre XT, there are similarities in a way, not due to Apple but due to the way technologies developed. Apple may like to think that they own silver, but they don't. In no way did HP try to mimic Apple. In life there are a lot of similarities.”
That’s not all. Wolff agreed to elaborate on the matter in an exclusive interview following the launch event.
Wolff said “The thing is that you have to design what's right, and that is that sometimes the wedge is the right solution, silver is the right solution.”
Wolff said there are as many differences as there are similarities between the two laptop models, opining that “anybody that's close enough to the business sees that there are differences in the design.”
The HP executive then dished out some of those particularities, explaining that the Spectre is rubber-coated at the bottom, and that it uses magnesium, rather than CNC aluminum (Apple’s preferred material for laptop enclosures).
“We did a brush pattern on our product,” Wolff continued, “they didn't.”
“We did a different kind of keyboard execution. We did audio as a component; they didn't.”
“So there are a lot of things I can list off that are differences; but if you want to look at a macro level, there are a lot of similarities to everything in the market that's an Ultrabook today. It is not because those guys did it first; it's just that's where the form factor is leading it,” Wolff concluded.
Indeed, HP’s design buff makes a valid point, at least as far as the Spectre XT is concerned. The company would have gone out of its way to make it different enough not to resemble the MacBook Air, or anything that falls in the “ultrabook” category.
Plus, Apple's Jony Ive should feel insulted by the claim that his streamlined MacBook Air (pictured above) looks anything like the Spectre XT.
However, HP and other computer vendors have released systems that have been clearly inspired by Apple’s. It’s one thing to implement features so that “form follows function,” it’s another to try and mimic the success of another company by using key design features.