- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2007

Listen: Click, clickety-clicka-click. It’s the sound of perfectly groomed feminine fingernails tapping delicately and meaningfully upon a computer keyboard. Oh joy. God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world.

Yes, a suspected terrorist sleeper cell may be meeting down at Starbucks, and global warming or lead-laced Chinese imports soon will do us in. We’re addicted to fossil fuels, trans fats and shopping. Dogs rule the universe no matter what we think, and the Democratic ticket for 2008 probably will read “Gore-Clinton.” (They’ll win, and we’ll have to suffer through Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” all over again.)

But hey. Sony has just announced that its new crop of ultraslim, ultraportable, 2½-pound laptop computer’s keyboards have been specially engineered to accommodate women’s “longer” fingernails. The news of this incredible breakthrough was so big that even the New York Times covered it with a certain breathless abandon.

Think about it. Nails rule. Generations of secretaries will be dancing in the streets. Chick lit novelists will rejoice. Girly-girls with French manicures will squeal. Men will be baffled at first, then realize that this development could signal that women will at last understand high-tech consumer electronics. Visits to Best Buy might increase. The men dream: Maybe they’ll never, ever, ever have to go to the scrapbooking section of a Michael’s Crafts store again, as long as they live. They, too, will dance in the street.

Sony and Sally Hansen — maker of a rock-hard nail polish that features a little fake diamond on each bottle — should consider a strategic alliance, ultimately producing a Colors of the Keyboard line, for women who click-click.

But this is no mere click-click. Women not only understand consumer electronics, they are the biggest consumer of consumer electronics, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which knows about such things. Earlier this year, the trade group announced that women now account for more than half of the $155 billion worth of laptops, cell phones, digital cameras and other goodies Americans purchase each year.

“Technology is a girl’s best friend,” the CEA says.

And they ain’t kiddin’. Diamonds no longer qualify, contrary to the mellifluous observations of Marilyn Monroe some five decades ago.

The CEA surveyed 1,000 females to discover that, given the choice, 58 percent would chose a high-definition television over a one-karat diamond ring; 64 percent would pick a digital camera over diamond stud earrings. Another 55 percent would also choose a digital camera rather than a $200 gift certificate for a house cleaning service.

Women “embrace” their electronics, the group noted. This is, presumably, in contrast to men who perhaps slaver over them, but that is another story. The men are just happy not to have to go to the craft store.

Ladies have developed specific gizmo needs, meanwhile. The new population of gadgetarinas want powerful but diminutive electronics that cleverly acknowledge their womanhood.

Yes, Sony makes a laptop that doesn’t break fingernails. But Motorola recently compiled a list of woman-attractive enhancements for their products, including the fingernail factor, along with a surface that does not disturb makeup and assorted alarm devices that help a woman find a phone lost in her purse. And who has not done the frantic phone dance in the check-out line at Giant, jigging about while some ersatz ringtone version of ”Fur Elise” disturbs all the other shoppers?

Meanwhile, LG Electronics now offers a cell phone that provides an automatic focus feature when held at arm’s length, so female users can take group photos of themselves with their gal pals.

The LG “Strawberry Chocolate” phone — which is a sumptuous berry pink — definitely is crafted for the Godiva-loving crowd, advising the potential lady customer to “sink your teeth into luxury and innovation … with minimalist-inspired style and silky-smooth slide design.”

The pink link is a clear bridge between eras though, a cultural commonality between Marilyn Monroe’s time and our era of electronics-obsession. Pink — as rosy as Marilyn’s luxurious taffeta gown in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” — has emerged as the color of choice for many feminine electronics. T-Mobile, for example, sold out of its bejeweled, $400 Juicy Couture pink phones in a matter of days earlier this year. Retailers are awash in pink cameras, pink headsets, pink MP3 players, pink “ear buds” — as squishy as bubble gum — and pink covers for PDAs and laptops.

Doro, a Swedish electronics manufacturer, has declared that we have entered the “Summer of Pink,” based on its new line of pink cell phones.

“Pink in particular soothes and nurtures. The specific pink which Doro has used lends itself to the violet-pink end of the spectrum,” said spokeswoman Michelle O’Mahoney. “It’s more uplifting and helps us gain a feeling of completeness and fulfillment.”

Yes, of course. We pine to be completed and fulfilled by our phones — but only as long as the complete and fulfilling hang-up feature is still in operation.

Jennifer Harper covers media, politics and frantic phone dances for The Washington Times’ national section. Reach her at jharper@ washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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