Samsung’s taken over from Apple as the world’s most aggressive use of the skeuomorphic design cue, with the newly announced Chromebook 2 featuring, for some baffling reason, a leather-effect, pretend-stitched top case similar to that used by Samsung on its Note III and the new Galaxy S5.
But why on earth should a laptop be leather? It’s not like laptops have a long history dating back to the 16th century. Shakespeare almost certainly didn’t use a laptop. Leather may be a signal of quality in the car and furniture worlds, but when it comes to computing, surely associations with deal animal products don’t offer any form of assurance as to quality?
If Samsung wants its laptop to look aged and wise, perhaps it should’ve used yellowed, faded plastic? Sort of a medical, nicotine colour? That would suggest something timeless, like a Dell keyboard from the 1990s that won’t break and will continue to exist fully functional in a landfill site for millennia.
But anyway. It didn’t do that. It put silly pretend leather stitching on the back of its new Chromebook series, which was enough excuse for the commenters of the world to wheel out their anti-Chrome prejudices en masse.
The switch to leather didn’t go down particularly well with Engadget reader ChrisWhite10, who said: "It’s like Samsung’s design team hired my mother’s friend who used to wear fake fur, fake leather, and wigs all the time (didn’t all of our mothers have that one friend?), and she creeped me out for years." Can’t say my mum ever had a wig-wearing friend, but then again she wasn’t really allowed friends. Or visitors.
A little further down, Dan11 had a different set of repressed memories triggered by Samsung’s leather finish, saying: "Fake leather? That’s damn nasty! They should be selling it with a free pipe, smoking jacket and tartan slippers!" Great ideas, although the pipe/cancer association may cause Samsung’s legal people some troubles.
Discussion then turned to whether Samsung’s textured plastic should even be called "fake leather" at all, seeing as it’s just plastic trying to dress itself up like leather. Reader Sl8rok suggested a new name for it, posting: "…it’s plastic made to look like faux leather. So it’s not even faux leather it’s faux faux leather." Faux sure.
It didn’t take long for people to look past the pretend leather exterior and begin grinding their various personal axes, with most comment threads quickly turning into battles between people that hate Chromebooks and will their destruction, and people who merely dislike them and would like to see them damaged a bit.
Over on Maximum PC, reader Baer is clearly a bit happier sweating in front of his Wintel gaming rig while mentally counting the FPS output, scoffing: "Faux cover for a Faux computer. That’s OK, there is a market for everything, even a Yugo."
Taking the anti-Chromebook hate to an entire new level was Bullwinkle J Moose, who listed all his ChromeOS bugbears in one thread. His Google-shaming attempt included: "Fake CPU > Exynos 5 chip. Fake O.S. > Chrome. Fake Leather Cover. Totally Fraudulent Security Model. Will not run Crysis at any speed. Sends all data to NSA."
Some of this things may or may not be true, but it does accurately summarise the bizarre hatred many display toward Chromebooks. It’s almost as if people really like Windows.
Microsoft OS 10
The Verge reader xxb4xx doesn’t like Windows. His fantasy vision of the future involves Microsoft going bust, basically, with Chromebooks like the Samsung aiding to its failure: "Remember this… Even if Google / Samsung / Asus etc only sold 5 Chromebooks, that is 5 less Windows machines sold.
"This is why Microsoft sees them as a threat. How the mighty will fall, and will continue to fall. Microsoft is the Blackberry of the PC world."
Commenter MaxFly didn’t agree, though, suggesting that: "Someone who may have had no real intention of buying a secondary or tertiary device may have purchased a Chromebook to check it out and because of its low price and possible use cases."
He also added very sensibly that: "There are also people who purchased a Chromebook in lieu of an Android tablet because they wanted keyboard functionality."
As for the future of pretend plastics on debatably real computers, Recode reader BobSulli has a suggestion, asking of Samsung: "A faux leather lid? When do the wood grain side panels come out?"
- There’s more Inflame, so much more Inflame