Twelve South is an electronics accessories manufacturer that specializes in gear for Apple's computers and mobile devices. Nothing unique about that, but then things start to get a little different.
According to company founder Andrew Green, Twelve South "makes decisions a little differently than most companies do."
"How can we innovate and make amazing new products for Apple fans?" is the company's mantra, Green told me. "We started Twelve South to make amazing solutions for a very focused, small, select group of Apple users. Not the mass market."
In other words, Twelve South is selective in what it makes, and it makes a lot of relatively niche products. The big money in the accessories biz is iPhone and Android phone cases. Twelve South only makes one iPhone case, an elegant wallet case called the BookBook, that looks like a miniature bible.
Here are some other things the company makes:
- Compass 2 for iPad: a minimalist iPad stand
- BookBook for iPad: a line of iPad cases
- BookBook for MacBook: a line of MacBook cases
- HiRise for MacBook: a stand for the MacBook
Most of Twelve South's products have been made of aluminum (to match Apple's products), or of leather, such as the BookBook line of cases. Now, Twelve South is again branching out.
The company has released a wooden version of its BookArc MacBook stand, inspired by modern wooden furniture like the famed Eames Chair that resides in the Museum of Modern Art.
Called the BookArc möd for MacBook, the wooden stand comes in three colors and is designed to match the furniture and working environment of its owners, rather than to have the accessories match the computer.
Twelve South has always designed accessories to "compliment the hardware they work with," Green explained. But with the möd, his design team said "why can't these accessories match our living spaces as much as they match our hardware?"
"You always go to a beautiful office furnished with the Eames lounge chair," Green told me. "Why can't accessories come directly from that idea?"
The BookArc möd is the epitome of niche accessories, something you would never see a big accessory-maker create. Its target market is limited to 1) customers with Apple MacBooks who 2) want to use their MacBook with an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard and 3) want to have the MacBook closed, not using the internal screen.
That's a small market, but one Green believes is big enough to justify the company's investment in the product. The original BookArc for MacBook Air (which the company still sells) is made of aluminum and, Green says, frequently outlasts the notebook which sits in it. The company offers inserts that fit each current model of MacBook and allows customers to change out the inserts as needed to fit a new computer.
"A BookArc can now outlast three to four generations of MacBooks," Green explained. "You can invest in a higher end accessory piece of furniture" because it will last so long.
Many MacBook owners "don't realize they can use their MacBook with a 27" external monitor on their desk and then take the MacBook on the go", Green said. That's what the BookArc is designed for. "It's almost like a little Mac tower."
Green says the möd "lends itself a little more organically to your workplace," with the wooden stand "possibly a little warmer and a little more organic" than another piece of metal.
The $79 BookArc möd is available in three colors: a light-colored Birch, meant to match the tables at Apple's retail stores, a darker Walnut, and a deep brown Espresso. Check out the photo gallery: "Twelve South's new BookArc möd."
"Who else would make a wood stand for a closed MacBook to match your mid-century modern furnished room?" Green asked rhetorically. "That's something we couldn't do if our primary concern was guessing at what the next iPhone 6 case might be."
"Our focus on Apple hardware allows us the opportunity to do unique, niche products like this," Green explained. "The focus gives us freedom."
Perhaps other companies could use with a little focus now and then.
Does the BookArc möd have a place in your professional or personal workstation? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.