Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simply... Cards

One of the apps Apple speakers have shown off during the recent event in Cupertino was Cards. Not iCards, simply Cards. This time it is indeed Cards, because they are printed in exclusive quality paper, in relief, and mailed to recipients in equally high quality paper envelopes.  Apple's cards are very much real! Not virtual like those you can find in the thousands on the net. Most of which find their way distastefully via email and linked URLs to millions of recipients during season holidays and the like.

You may remember, when virtual cards became mainstream, many complained for good reasons, but most of us geeks adopted them like they were the best thing ever since sliced bread. We thought it was a far better way to send wishes since it cost nothing, and it could still be sent last minute, often to a whole group of recipients, as impersonal as never before. Done with it. Over and out.

I have often sent virtual cards as well, I'm embarrassed to admit. But I always tried to create something original, using my own photographs, special font-type, and suitable layouts. I also made them in high res in case recipients wanted to print them. However, this was still unreal, virtual. Sad to think about it.

Virtual cards get eventually thrown in the bin of the personal computer's desktop. There's no way a love-dove can put any silk ribbon around virtual cards coming from a boyfriend's email. Unless she decides to print each one of them in her inkjet at home. How hugely romantic! Anyone in a romantic relationship,  who prefers virtual cards to real, should better go to the forest and cut timber instead . Virtual cards lack the most important qualities of the real thing. The look, touch and feel. And the feeling that someone, the very special one is the recipient's heart, has also touched the same card, handwritten the message, and tongue licked and pressed the stamps on the upper right corner of the envelope. Maybe he/she even kissed the closed envelope, and wished it a bon voyage. Also, don't forget the adorable scent of real paper as well. Which might often get sprayed with a few droplets of a loved one's perfume. Am I right or am I right?

Apple's Cards app provides a sort of remedy to this issue in a hybrid fashion. One uses the convenience of the iPhone, and with the help of the app's templates, one composes quite elegant postcards, personalized with photographs from one's own albums, addressed with data from the address book, and sent to Apple's cloud for printing and posting. In-app payment for the postcard's printing, handling and postage completes the cycle, and only thing that's left to do is for the recipient to receive it in the post. It's pretty neat. I printed year-end holiday cards produced in similar ways with iPhoto years ago, and I can assure you the quality of the end product is the best you can possibly get. These cards are rather expensive but they are worth it. Having done this again with the iPhone this time was an entirely different and a far better experience. A much more straightforward process indeed. Ok, the iPhone screen is sort of tiny to really enjoy the creative part of the job, but what counts here is that a high quality output can be achieved in a matter of minutes, even by the most aesthetically clumsy iPhone users in existence.

You might still wonder about what the exact objective of a 100 Billion dollar company was when they set up a whole new diversified business model for printing postcards and mailing them to recipients in the four corners of the world. Well, IMNSHO it is part of His Jobness Grand Vision. Since the days of von Neumann, with exception of Apple, all other personal computer business efforts have always focused upon the community of hackers and technology geeks. People who get high by simply staring at fancy hardware. And software too. You see, it seemed quite wicked to be able to program computers in the early days. You could even get lucky with girlfriends by boasting about your hacking skills. 20th Century romance! Microsoft still believes in that philosophy. Behind the user friendly masks that they are covering Windows with these days, they are still addressing the masses of computer technology addicts and maniacs. Apple ignored those freaks since its inception. Jobs's Apple has always created objects for humans. Simple to use and addressing every day needs where real emotions are important. I'll ask again. Is Cards a business (profitable or not) for a company like Apple? You're darn right it is. If Cards is one of the little things that makes people happy and helps them remain and feel human, why not then?

BTW, if you wondered how Cards works, look here. These guys did a pretty good job in reviewing the app.
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