Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Magic of Natural Leather

OK, I know...leather.

So what's so special about it?

For a start it is natural. A once-was-living material.
Not made by man in a vat of oil based derivatives, like plastic and other synthetics.

Leather is a by product of the industry that feeds and clothes us all.
To put a not-too-fine-a-point on it, leather is the skin of an animal that has been treated and tanned to become the long lasting outer layer of your shoes, your wallet, a car seat.. a lounge suit, that easy chair, a dress, pants, jackets...and your Nutshell.

But there are many products that claim to be leather. 

That's very true...but remember that there are many animals (and even fish) that have hides that can be tanned.
And every hide has a different property.

And then there are some industries that take the offcuts / scraps from leather that has been used to make something else, mush them all up in a large vat and then spray the results onto a layer of material to create what is called a 'co-skin' - a thin layer of leather on a fabric backing. can even call that leather, but if you do, you are really starting to stretch the truth. 

The leathers we use are all from New Zealand. A country that has long been recognized as a clean, green oasis in the middle of the South Pacific. The Eastern Islands of that hot, dry, vast continent called Australia.

Unlike many places where either land is at a premium, or weather conditions get harsh in the winter, Kiwi bovines (cows to you) are not raised in pens and fed on corn or maize mash. Our cows live in the great outdoors all their lives and munch on natural grasses.

Every pieces of leather we use is unique; no two pieces are exactly the same. Every piece varies, depending on which part of the hide was used to make your Nutshell.

Tanning can be a dirty business, involving chemicals and additives that can be quite toxic. We prefer to use veg-tanned leathers,. They cost a bit more but the processes are natural and do not use nasty chemicals.

Tell me more

An example of a pure veg-tan is our recently introduced Russet leathers.
This is leather that has been sustainably tanned, and has not had an artificial color added.

As a natural leather it starts off quite light in color, but as you use it, it darkens up, especially in places where the leather stretches to fit around the device that is inside the case.
Eventually the leather becomes almost 'sun tanned' in appearance; a dark, rich brown that has the look of a well-aged saddle.

And what's even better, a veg-tanned Russet leather will just keep getting nicer and nicer, the more you use it.

When we first created Nutshell in 1997, we promised ourselves that we would deliver the best products we could to our customer with no compromises. We are still keeping that promise, all these many years later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Greetings 2010 - Ho Ho Ho

Once again it is "that" time of the year - when the world (much of it) goes mad with buying fever, bonhomie and good will to all men. Christmas. The time of giving - and receiving.

Unfortunately, at Nutshell, it is also a time of extreme busy, as in the weeks before the blessed event people scramble to make sure that their gift arrives on time to be placed under the tree, or in the stocking pinned to the mantle piece (do people still have mantle pieces?).

Add to this profusion of confusion is that fact that Nutshell lives 'down under' in a place where Christmas falls in the middle of summertime, so that it coincides with our summer holiday season. This means that while those of you in the Northern hemisphere are shivering in the chill, sipping warm  mulled wines, ploughing down the piste and feasting on Christmas fare, down here in the Southern hemisphere we are sharing warmth, sunlight and sunburn with our friends and neighbors in Australia, South Africa and South America.

This time of summer fun means, however, that Nutshell goes into a manufacturing hiatus as people seek sun, surf, sun tans and relaxation.

As a result our operations go into slowdown for a couple of weeks. This year (2010) most folk will be breaking from their work on December 22 and rejoining the workforce two weeks later...after New Year.

Of course Nutshell will be maintaining a watching brief on orders and customer enquiries over this time, but if you are considering the use of a courier to speed your Nutshell to you - forget it. Along with the rest of New Zealand our couriers are also taking that well deserved summer break.

Merry Christmas to all and to everyone.
And may 2011 be better than 2010 and deliver you all that you wish for (in the nicest way possible.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Was Once Old is Now New Again

Unlike many other manufacturers of cases for Nutshell we pride ourselves in being responsive to our customers' wishes. That's why we recently created a new product designed to accommodate extra large device configurations.

It no secret that our competitors manufacture very good cases; they have to or they would not be long in business. But their products are primarily aimed at the mainstream; cases that fit the phones for which they are designed and not the phones plus the accessories that follow as sure as night follows day.

Our belt cases and holsters span a wide range of sizes and fits so that we are able to offer sizes that will accommodate those 'larger than average' accessories that inevitably appear on the market soon after the launch of a major selling phone.

Take the iPhone. A wondrous device that almost overnight single-handedly changed the way people use their mobile telecommunications. The first iPhone had a curving back, which made it slightly less than a slim device. Nice to hold but it required a case that gripped it 'just so'. The release of the iPhone 4 changed all that. In its wisdom Apple changed the design and, while keeping the exact same height and width, made the phone slimmer. Suddenly the case that held the iPhone, no longer held the iPhone, meaning that manufacturers like Nutshell had to scramble to design yet another product that provided a 'glove-like' fit.

No big deal, you might think, but actually it is a rather complicated task to redesign a product to accommodate yet another phone format.

But even more interesting, in our eyes, is the growth of larger than normal accessories that provide added protection to many of today's leading mobile cellphones. Suddenly, unless they can deliver products that work, many of our competitors find themselves unable to satisfy their customers' demands.

Luckily, for us, that does not happen.Often.

Because we have been in the business of providing cases and holsters for phones and PDA devices for ever ten years, we have grown with our market and developed a considerable number of differing sized cases over the years. And today the larger formats of yesteryear are back in style. That slimline phone that offers the Internet, gaming and face-to-face video grows quite larger with the addition of an accessory case.

Our earlier cases are back in fashion once again. Drawing on our early developments we have cases that fit these newer device configurations. We are a serious contender in a market where customers' demand no less than the best of fits; that the cases they buy actually fit the products for which they buy them.

And in a market where time equals lost opportunities and lost sales, this means we offer that all important 'point of difference'.

But meeting and exceeding customer expectations can be a tricky thing. For several years we have been offering a horizontal belt case that will hold an iPhone or similar sized device. Unlike our mainstream products, which are designed to sit vertically on the user's hip, these cases are a response to customer requests for leather belt cases that fit length-wise on the belt line. Obviously we responded and our snug fitting horizontal iPhone case was the result. And customers love it.

In fact they love it so much that they have been asking us for a larger horizontal belt case to hold larger than average form factors, like that iPhone with an OtterBox case, or a Seidio extended life battery. It took us a while, but we have finally released a product that we believe should be like our standard larger belt cases, and over time embed itself into the mainstream of cellphone users accoutrements. Well, those that prefer a horizontal Nutshell over the time proven upright Nutshell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kiwi music: The Alibis

I am truly stunned by just how much you can do with today's technology.

Apart from obviously toting the device in a Nutshell, my little iPhone 4 had opened a door to creativity that was previously the domain of technicians and videographers.

This little video was put together in a couple of hours...after being recorded late one night at a local club.

While some may argue that an iPhone is tainted by its association with Apple, the platform has given developers of previously niche market products a readily accessible portal into the mobile space.

You better believe that no matter which phone you select, regardless of the OS, this technology is really going to change the way we do things.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gone - but not Forgotten

On November 24th it will be a year ago to the day that we buried my business partner Steve Munro. He had just turned 60, when the cancer carried him away.

He'd been sick for almost a year. It took that long to watch a very good friend wither, from the robust man that he once was to the husk that remained.

Interestingly, it took almost another full year to sort out his relationship with Nutshell. He left no will (other than one made after he got married way back when - in favor of his ex-wife) and we held no partner insurance (a move I would urge others to carefully consider when they enter into what may become a long term business relationship).

Steve and I became unlikely business partners back in the late 1990's. The relationship lasted for twelve years. At times exhilarating and at others disturbing, I guess we followed the usual pattern of highs and lows that affect every business relationship.

Despite our differences (he was a master leathersmith; I was a journalist.) we got on well together. Not least because we grew up in the same town and in our early years shared a passion for fine British sports cars. Ours was a friendship that lasted for over thirty years.

In memory of Steve, through to the end of November,
we are offering our customers

To qualify for this offer, please click on the link below.

If you are resident in New Zealand or Australia, use this link: 



It's a hard life - if you weaken

Nutshell has long been supplying product to customers all over the planet, and while we usually get it right, occasionally we screw up. It's only natural, when you consider that we now support over 700 phones and their accessory covers, that sometimes we mistakenly/erroneously specify the wrong case for a product.

Usually the first thing we know is that we get an email from the customer.

Our immediate solution is to revisit the product, look at the dimensions we are able to locate on the web, (or from the customer) check it out against our own product lists, and if necessary respec the product. And we always offer an immediate replacement.

But those replacements that can sometimes leave us well out of pocket.

As a small company we are like most other folk out there, struggling to make ends meet. And when a customer gets a bee in their bonnet about our products, they can be a bit like a nagging cold; very hard to shake off.

Obviously we do understand that when someone buys a Nutshell they do so in good faith. And that consequenrtly it is our job to make matters right. After all, we have to deliver the goods.

But honestly. Some people want more than just a pound of flesh; they seem to want to see us bleed on the floor, writhing in agony and screaming as they peel away the layers.

Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh. But please, should you have a problem with your Nutshell, understand that we too are human. We laugh and we cry. Just like you. And just like you we too are trying to do our best as we make our way through this world.

So. Patience please.
Don't hassle us too hard.
And understand that we honestly do try our hardest to make sure that our customers always come first.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unique leather Kindle & NOOK eReaders Sleeve

We believe in being proactive; creating products that you possibly don't even know you need - until you wish you had one.

Such is the case with this offering; a high quality leather sleeve sized to accept a Kindle or Nook eReader that we have lined with New Zealand's own unique natural anti-static fiber, from the hide of arguably our most noxious pest; the Australian brush-tailed possum.

This nasty wee beastie has no natural enemies (apart from man) and today runs rampant throughout New Zealand's unique flora - the bush. Arriving on these shores late in the 19th Century, it has been estimated that today there are more than 60 million possum living here and every night they munch their way through two container-ship-loads of foliage - that is thousands of tonnes of living forest destroyed - every single night.

On the plus side of the ledger, this particular breed (there are lots of different breeds of  possum around the world) grows a very dense pelt that is made up of millions of hollow stemmed hairs that actively (in some mysterious manner) protect sensitive electronics from damage in areas where static electricity can potentially build-up, such as public transportation.

This unique lining provides a safe and snug, plush interior to coddle and cuddle your eReader, keeping it very, very safe and secure.

This case is closed with our own single magnet clasp - one magnet captured between two pieces of steel. This method diminishes the effects of the magnet to further protect your eReader.

Get your own sleeve  for KINDLE  or NOOK

Click on the image below to visit our Picasa and get a closer look at this sleeve

A  genuine  leather sleeve with natural anti-static fiber lining; created to safely contain the latest Amazon Kindle 3G+WiFi and the NOOK

Monday, August 23, 2010

Design and development; Drive Thru solution

Specialism is a state of Mind...
and a state of Art

Click here to look at some development images

At a time when we  are getting seriously prepared to go into wholesale distribution with at least one major player with our consumer products, we are also realizing another goal; the maturing of our 'be-spoke' service.

This is where we take a specialist handheld device in heavy everyday use and put our own special spin on how best to protect it.

Take the above. It's an EFTPOS pin-pad as used in a drive-thru burger-bar scenario. You know the place; drive in, talk to the squawk-box, place your order, pay your money, collect the napkin and then the order and drive off as a satisfied customer.

Although most all manufacturers know that their devices need to be rugged and robust enough to handle the everyday stress of performing in a variety of situations, many cannot appreciate exactly how their machines will be used in every individual operational environment.

That's where Nutshell comes in; we deliver the 'last mile' in protection. The sort of stuff that the original developers never envisaged.

And after some 11 years we have grown to know what our customers' expect. A good, solid long-lasting solution that looks professional, and does the job; delivering protection in the field.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Making a real difference

Every  now and then we get messages back from our customers that really make us feel it is all worthwhile.

In these times of global meltdown (even if you do not believe the pundits) it is really reassuring to know that the work we do, and the products we provide, make a real difference to the people who put their faith in Nutshell.

For example, check out this blog from a recent customer who ordered a nutshell.

As a person who has been forced through circumstance to regularly inject himself with insulin to combat diabetes, Chris was a long time Nutshell customer who found that among the product we offer are several tailored to accommodate a variety of insulin pumps.

The testimonial he has provided is unsolicited...and we are very happy to know that for him, at least, our products really have made a difference.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nutshell Retail Preparations

These are a couple of images of the method we propose shipping our belt case products out for resale, either through distribution or direct to retail.

It is proposed that we use a strong formed cardboard box that will have an affixed printed label displaying product data; barcodes, series information, product matches and configuration.

The box is large enough to contain the most popular belt case sizes.

Additionally, we believe the most appropriate way of displaying our product to prospective retail customers is to have a couple of cases attached to plastic display stands.

This is achieved by using a shaped plastic form to which product can be attached by sliding either their belt clip or belt loop onto a 'horn' that will allow the product to 'float' above the display shelf.

These images also show the proposed Nutshell label that will be attached to the display and may become printed on the retail product box.

Obviously this method may not be practical for the Nutshell Pouch.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Introducing the Nutshell iPad Pouch

In this video I have attempted to give a 'first look' at the latest product from the Nutshell design team.

Those who have been following along will know that, for the past couple of months, we have been laboring to design and create a pouch for the iPad which is not just another "me too" product, and we believe we have succeeded.

This is a beautiful product. The outer leather is high quality as used in the manufacture of women's boots and the interior is a lining of plush anti-static possum hide.

The possum is a pest in New Zealand. Introduced late in the 19th Century from Australia by well meaning folk who thought it would make for a great fur trade, unfortunately their plans got a little bit out of hand. Unlike its natural environment, where over millenia plants have adapted to protect themselves from the ravages of this creature, New Zealand was pure unadulterated, virgin territory. In this country, which had known no more than the birds (there were no mammals here until man arrived), there were no natural enemies, or anything, to slow down what swiftly became a population explosion.

Today there are an estimated 70 million possum living in the New Zealand bush, and every night they consume an estimated Container ship load of vegetation, that's more than two thousand tonnes of young tips and leaves of some of the rarest tress on this planet. Every single night!

And despite the best of intentions and efforts by New Zealand's environmentalists, the numbers of possum keep on growing.

But what is unique about this creature is not only its voracious appetite. Because the possum's fur is actually a hollow fiber it has a unique anti-static, anti-magnetic property, which makes it supremely well suited to protect high end electronic devices - like the iPad and the Kindle.

Possum hide is very thin, but it also one of the strongest hides available, due to the fact that each of these hollow stem follicles grows very, very close to its neighbor.  You can maybe count the hairs on your head, but there is just no way you could count the number of follicles in even a small square of possum hide.

Suffice to say that we believe that, in this product we have created a case that looks great. It will keep your iPad safe and secure for many, many years. But almost as importantly, each product sold will go a small way toward saving New Zealand's unique natural environment from ultimate destruction.

You will soon be able to pre-order a Nutshell iPad pouch here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

There is Always a Better Way

There is always a better way of doing things.
As this video attempts to show.

That is an almost immutable law of the univerese - no matter what you do, you can always do it better. And resting on your laurels and saying "that is good enough" is not the right response.

Historically we have been building nutshell cases with a large slab of industrial velcro holding fast the tab or the full flap.

But 'industrial' Velcro has always had its share of detractors; it is loud and not very subtle. That's been a major flaw. And over time it can adversely affect clothing; 'industrial' Velcro grabs little bits and pieces and 'worries' them incessantly. It is why we developed our shielded magnetic clasp. 

However, at long last there is a solution; Velcro has developed an 'almost' silent hook'n'loop that significantly lessens the sound, and does not pull at clothing. At all.

This little video was shot using a handheld camera...and briefly shows you what we are working with.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New iPhone 4G case now shipping

Our customers are the best!

And definitely very proactive.

Even before the new iPhone 4G hit the streets we were getting orders for a case to protect it. Obviously this is proof positive folk want to be able to protect their devices from day one.

At Nutshell we have gotten pretty good at 'guesstimating' sizes based on the manufacturer's published dimensions.

As these images show, we have once again 'guesstimated' correctly.

The new iPhone 4G fits into the new case - like a glove.

Why did we have to create a new case, I hear you ask?

Simply because iPhone has again set a new benchmark; this time for thin-ness. Unlike all other models on the market the new phone is less than ten millimeters thick, which means our existing cases were just too 'fat' to correctly accommodate this new device.

Obviously new battery technologies and new ways of shrinking components mean that, without a doubt, we are going to be seeing many more thin phones (under ten millimeters) in the marketplace.

So Nutshell has to (once again) lead the way in developing protection that fits and our earlier cases, which are now too 'fat', will find a use as cases to accommodate the array of new protective covers that you just know are on their way.

The iPhone 4G is just one new phone that has caused us to redesign; the new HTC Evo 4G also has its own unique form factor. While it is as wide as an iPhone it is taller than the iPhone...resulting in our sale of a couple of cases that were too 'sloppy' to fit properly. Once again, back to the drawing board.

Both cases are now in production and we feel our response has been as positive and proactive as we can be to meet the challenges thrown up in an industry that keeps on changing sizes every time they bring out a new phone.

That's progress, and over the years we have learnt to live with it.

But while we may make nasty noises about the changing times we live in, we offer sincere thanks to our customers, who put up with our failings and know that, eventually, we always get it right.

Here's to you guys. You are the BEST!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nutshell iPad Pouch V3

For weeks now we have been laboring to create the definitive iPad pouch; one that is not "me too" and one that will stand the test of time when it comes to providing a safe haven for your iPad (or any other keyboard-less tablet style device.

And, by Jove, we think we've almost got it! 
We've managed to hide the hairies!!

This pouch is lined with a natural antistatic fiber and reinforced with an anti-hygroscopic (meaning it will not get loaded with moisture along the way) padding.

Plus we insert a sheet of stiff polypropylene in the lining on one side to provide protection for that critically vulnerable screen.

The closure and clasp are still in development, as are the final dimensions of this pouch for the iPad; we don't want it too fit, just tight enough to provide a soft and comfortable enclosure.

The current clasp is an adaptation of our single magnet shielded clasp, designed to minimize any stray magnetism inside the case.

The leather is top grade New Zealand bovine (cow-hide).
Hopefully you can get the idea; this is going to be one of the BEST pouches ever to protect an iPad.

It will provide a perfect, discrete cover that can be slipped into a briefcase or satchel or toted by hand from one meeting to the next.

Costs are always an issue; the materials selection here is not cheap.

One lesson we have learnt the hard way over the years is; "If you are producing quality then don't skimp."

Another is; "Don't cut corners just for the sake of a few bucks".

So we haven't.

We are getting very close to listing this product - once we have finalized continuity of supply details; so that we don't make that age-old mistake of promising a lot, and then having problems delivering.

Thanks for hanging it there with us on this development.

We can promise you this;  "It will be worth the wait."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

iPad case development - Take #2

It is not often that a designer gets to share the process of creation with others.

In our case (sic) we are working on creating the best pouch/case/containment for an iPad - or a netbook - in everyday use.

So far we have proven that we can line our case with possum pelt, without compromising the external look too much. The pelt shown here is a long haired version, which takes up any 'slack' inside the case really nicely, but is difficult to get to not 'explode' out of the case!

We have now added a top flap - to close the case and hold the contents secure.

As shown here we initially used Velcro, but despite the fact that new versions of the material prevent 'pilling' on clothes (that's where your sweater or expensive silk shirt starts to fray, and you can't work out why), it just doesn't cut the mustard. Too much like 'yesterday'.

  • We are now looking to add a couple of small shielded magnets - one at either end of the flap. This to prevent the current top from developing dog-ears and looking decidedly manky within three months.
  • We may change the shape of the top.
  • We shall also look to replace the long-haired possum with a short-shorn and dyed version.

We want this to work!
And it will.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sneak Peek: Development of an iPad case

Working gradually and persistently toward the creation of a leather slipcase that will hold an iPad, with or without a 'skin', plus any of the small form-factor netbooks currently on the market. The point of the exercise is to create a single product that will hold most all of the small portable handheld notebook and tablets, including, say, a Kindle eBook Reader, instead of multiple products that are made specifically for each form factor. The possum lining looks extremely promising.

The idea, so far, is a lining of soft, anti-scratch and anti-static New Zealand possum, wrapped inside an outer of genuine leather. So far we have created several development samples and tested them for size; next we have to decide on a method of cleaning up the edges...and closing the case securely.

Still pondering the effectiveness of offering an removable, and adjustable, shoulder strap.

And...most importantly, how to provide that extra layer of tuff-as-nuts protection that our customers have, naturally, come to expect from Nutshell. I have a few ideas on that. Suffice to say, the task poses problems, but I truly do not believe they are insurmountable.

Here's a link to the finished product:

Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 17, 2010

Extended full flap on a #247 to hold Business and Credit Cards

This shows an image from Picasa that shows how we can modify an existing full flap product to comfortably store credit and business cards by allowing them to lay flat inside the flap in their own little pocket.

However, before we get too excited, a few words of warning; the current #235 case (which contains most new devices available today) has a flap that is too narrow for regular cards, so it will require a bit of cost to modify it is we proceeded beyond the current case size, which is a general purpose #247.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Playing possum

If you are dead but just don't know could be said to be playing possum.

But for us down here down-under the possum is no joke.
The little blighters are eating our country - at an alarming rate.

Brushtail Possum - the Facts

By choosing a product containing Possum fur, you are helping save the birds and forests of New Zealand.

The New Zealand Brushtail Possum (sometimes known as Kiwi Bear and definitely NOT to be confused with the short-haired American Opposum) produces an opulent, luxurious fur which is 8% warmer and 14% lighter than wool. Its soft and silky fiber is hollow, so it retains heat and repels moisture, making it extremely warm to wear. It is regarded as the third warmest fur in the world, behind the Arctic Fox and Polar Bear. It also has unique anti-static qualities, making it a perfect complement to our range of top quality leather products to protect your top-end electronics.

The Brushtail Possum is not a native of New Zealand - it came to New Zealand from Australia, where the landscape there learnt long ago to protect itself against these sharp toothed devils. Today the ex-Aussie Brushtail Possum is destroying the birds and the forests of New Zealand in ever increasing numbers!

In New Zealand, the Brushtail Possum is an introduced species which has become a pest of mammoth proportions. At Nutshell, we agree with many other local manufacturers and merchants who believe that a commercially driven approach towards maximizing a return from a pest that is an environmental and ecological disaster is the only effective way to control the possum problem.

Why is the Possum a pest?

The Brushtail Possum was introduced into the South Island of NZ from Australia in the 1800’s with the well-intentioned objective of establishing a fur trade. That's when things went wrong. In its native land of Australia, the Brushtail Possum population is contained by dingoes, bush fires and less palatable vegetation.

But in New Zealand there are no natural controls; the population grew and grew and grew...and grew. Today the Brushtail Possum population is now of epidemic proportions.

It is estimated that there are approximately 70 million Brushtail Possums in New Zealand, and they devour nearly eight million tonnes of native trees and vegetation annually. This equates to the Brushtail Possum population munching its collective way through 20,000 tonnes or 4,000 truckloads of native forest every night!

In addition to their voracious appetites for our native forests, Brushtail Possums can also act as carriers of bovine tuberculosis, which may be transmitted to cattle and other farm stock. addition to destroying our native bush and harboring pestilence, the Brushtail Possum eats the eggs and young of native birds, including our own flightless bird and the symbol of our land, the Kiwi.

In New Zealand, it is illegal to...

* Farm possums.
* Keep possums as pets.
* To use traps that cause pain and suffering (a native animal may accidentally get caught and needs to be released unharmed).
* To sell or use any possum culled as part of the official eradication program.

We do none of these things. We believe it is our duty to do what we can to help our country rid itself of the possum.

However, considering there are an estimated 70 million possums that are very alive and well and munching their way through our forests, it could take some time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who (and where) the bluddy 'ell are you?

We regularly engage in customer discussions. And the ways you all spend your time with your nutshell is, quite honestly, just amazing. From the bush to the boardroom, and every possible, conceivable way between.

So much are we are intrigued by what you do, we thought a competition could be the order of the day...and we are working on inviting you to post us images of the way you use your nutshell in your every day world.

This after we've worked out how to best enable you to add your image, along with a brief description to share with us all. And how to score them all.

The Judges?
You..of course.

After all it's our competition.

The Prize?
Let's work on that.

Now that's a thought.

What do you reckon??

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Time Stand Still!

We all know about magnets and the problems they can potentially cause if left to their own devices.

If you are not careful around magnets, they can wipe your swipe, erase the data on a floppy disk and generally play havoc with information that is electronically stored in a form where the 'state' of bits are altered according to the whim of the data stored therein.

But did you know that magnets can also make time stand still!

I admit I was not aware of this. Not until recently, when a customer of ours in Sydney contacted me.

"Do you know that when I put my Tag Heuer watch on top of my nutshell case with a mag-tab when I shower, I find that time has stood still?" he asked.

"Why no," said I. "How can this be?"

Apparently his watch, and many others like it, are very susceptible to magnetic influences; their movements are so delicately balanced that they will actually stop recording the passing of time if they are placed within a magnetic field.

But only for the duration of the time they are under the influence of the magnetic field. Remove them from the field and they perform again. Perfectly.

Except for that one small, seemingly insignificant fact that they are now running behind time in the 'real world'. And that can be a problem. Especially if you are inclined to base your life on the time.

Now, that is not to say that there is anything special about the magnetic fields generated by our mag-clasps (be they tab or full flap). There are lots of other cases to contain handhelds in the marketplace that use magnets.

The most famous of them has to be RIM BlackBerry.

RIM has for many years embedded a small magnet in the base of their belt cases, and use its influence to put their devices into a standby mode, which drains less power but still enables emails and messages to be received with no problems.

Many of our competitors use dual magnets to achieve a firm clap; the magnets are reversed polarity, so that they actually 'want' to attach to each other. And, to my knowledge, there is at least one other case manufacturer that actually uses four magnets in their flap closure. Four! Un-freaking-believable.

At Nutshell we know that the devices we protect are complex, delicate (comparatively) pieces of electronics, which do not need much to upset them, if they are that way inclined.

For this reason we do what we can to minimize their effect. We contain our magnet between two pieces of steel. This action results in an ultra-strong attraction between the plates but actually limits the amount of magnetism that leaks out into the surrounding environment.

But it is obviously not enough to minimize magnetism; in a perfect world you have to eliminate it altogether. It may be a very slight, very minute, magnetic field, but it is obviously still enough to make time stand still.

That's why, for folk who are really concerned, we offer hook'n'loop Velcro as an alternate method of keeping your Nutshell shut.

Makes sense.
Doesn't it?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is in a name?

At Nutshell we are constantly aware of the changing face of the mobile computing landscape.

As device makers get smarter, the technology that they use gets smaller, faster and increasingly more complex.

Add to that an array of shapes that fit the hand in an amazing variety of ways, and every user is faced with a staggering number of amazing mobile devices, all offering smaller, faster, longer life and better performance and abilities.

All this is great news for the cognoscenti and the technocrats amongst us; things that were mere dreams a few years ago are fast becoming everyday realities; video phones with hi-res cameras, screens that sparkle, dazzle and present realistic images, more space on which to store stuff; better and increasingly better means of staying in touch with one another. As someone once said - "The list goes on."

Of course, this presents a constant challenge to a company like Nutshell; focused on delivering products that meet and exceed the user's expectations. It is the old 'what do we do next' syndrome. A constant hunt to make our products better and more attractive, while maintaining quality control and deliver-ability.

But we constantly have a niggling worry in the back of the head that what we do may actually turn off some customers; our use of natural materials offends some folk who would rather we lived in trees, ate nuts and shoots and rooted around for our daily sustenance. The merest whiff of a suggestion that we may even contemplate delivering products that incorporate natural materials can be a turn-off, to some people. And nobody needs a turn-off.

The challenge then is to deliver products which entice the senses; after all, until you purchase you cannot touch, feel and fully experience any product that is presented online. It is all in the mind, and in that sense of expectation and belief that the product you are purchasing will fit your lifestyle, like a glove.

So we are searching for a name. A word. An expression of timeless elegance, wish-fulfillment and good taste. Coupled with our users' expectations of a product that not only looks like a million dollars, it will actually deliver what we, as designers and creators, have set ourselves as the challenge; the creation of that ultimate product that will better protect its contents against most all of what our users will undoubtedly throw at it.

And you thought you had problems. :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's not the journey that counts.

It is truly amazing the way that people find Nutshell.

After 12 and something years we are pretty 'cemented' into the fabric of the internet. Enter one of our keywords into any search engine and odds are that nutshell will feature someplace on the front page. Usually (in the major engines) someplace near the top.

But there are always new roads being crafted in the cyberspace we occupy; increasingly new ways of arriving at our little destination.

There are many tricks and tips that folk continually come up with designed to make any website more 'search engine friendly' and keeping track of new and evolving theories and permutations and variations on a theme can take a heck of a lot of time if you don't know what it is you are actually doing.

I guess that after all this time I have a fair idea. Obviously. But sometimes I really do wonder just how effective it all is.

I mean, listed as we are it continually bemuses me that we have not been 'cottoned onto' by the broad mass of internet surfers and shoppers.

Not that I am complaining; far from it.

In the time we have been online we have sold product to tens of thousands of people, all over the world. Many of you are repeat purchasers. However you found us we are extremely glad to have made your acquaintance and we look forward to continuing to provide you with service for many, many years to come.

But that does beg the question; just what is it that a website has to provide (apart from good product) that touches that nerve of public consciousness that makes us flavour of the month?

Obviously people surf and search, but I always wonder which road is the one most travelled.

It's true; it is not the journey that counts, it's all about getting as many seekers and surfers to the 'right' destination. And capturing not only their hearts and minds, but their willingness to become one of a select group of people.

That unique band of folk out there, from all walks of life, who can lay claim to being satisfied Nutshell customers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Phones - finally....a common size is emerging

Since 1997 Nutshell has been offering its cases for PDAs, smartphones, cellphones and other mobile devices and ever since we started we have been steadily increasing the number of cases we offer. Mostly this has been as a result of the cellphone manufacturers constantly tweaking the sizes of their devices.

Because traditionally our cases have been lined with a synthetic plush material to keep those devices pristine and like new, we have sometimes had to create a totally new size to fit; if we offer you a product that is 'near enough' but 'not quite' it takes very little time for you, our customers, to let us know we have made an error.

However these days it appears that the majority of new devices coming to market are starting to standardize on the size format - the iPhone size.

Obviously, love them or hate them, the iPhone has struck a cord with other device manufacturers as being a handy size that works well for most users; the screen size is good eough to display images and app information without forcing the user to wear a set of reading glasses. And the shape is one that fits well in most hands, regardless of the size or sex of the user.

That makes life a whole lot easier for us as suppliers; having a consistent size means we can concentrate on delivering better product in a more timely fashion; every day we make our cases based on web sales and, even though we have a steady stream of corporate orders in the pipeline, different sized cases to match the many, and many different phones in the marketplace means our folk have to be seriously on their game when it comes to selecting the correct knives and components to make the cases.

Of course, the work never stops; there is a constant stream of product passing from our manufacturing facility to our dispatch team and out into the mail system to finally make it to your mailbox.

And even if the phone vendors have decided that a common form factor works, we are now experiencing a proliferation of add-on accessories in the shape of extra life batteries and protective skins. Each of these has to be matched against our cases to provide you the product fit and quality you have come to expect from Nutshell over the years.

So...the game never ends. Just the shapes change with the passage of time.

If you have a product that you need us to find you a case for, please add the dimensions (length x width x depth) when you make an inquiry.

Although we can usually find the information someplace in the cyber-sphere, it does save time if we know immediately what sized Nutshell you are looking for.