Every year at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, a million and one business cards get handed out. Most end up in a desk drawer or, worse, the circular file. But last year one card stood out.
This glass business card is made from an actual iPhone screen, sourced from Foxconn’s factories in China. The lettering is laser-etched into the hardened Gorilla Glass — a very complex process.
The card belongs to an Apple engineer, who hung it on a lanyard around his neck. Everywhere he went, people pawed at it.
“Everyone was grabbing it asking him, ‘How the heck did you do that?'” said the card’s creator, who made a batch of 10 for the engineer.
The first question we had when we got our hands on one was, where do we put in our order? Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna happen.
Glass cards might look cool, but they are fragile. The iPhone screen’s Gorilla Glass is hardened to resist scratches, but it cracks and shatters easily if flexed. The cards are expensive. The laser-etching was difficult and expensive. It took a long time to get right.
But the biggest problem is that they are useless as business cards. They are so unique, you probably couldn’t bring yourself to give them away. The owner of this card just shows them to visitors in his office.
Fancy business cards are a rarity in Silicon Valley, but a few colorful exceptions reveal just how versatile these humble paper handouts can be. Another Apple staffer, Kevin Avila, has similar glass cards also made from iPhone screens. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had a metal card made for an appearance on The Colbert Report. (Woz told Stephen Colbert he uses it to cut steaks on airplanes.) Hacker Kevin Mitnick also has metal business cards, which are shaped like lock picks. He gives them out for free at speaking events (and they can be ordered for $5 on his website).
Still, most people in Silicon Valley carry plain old paper business cards (if they haven’t gone digital). Even Steve Jobs had a regular cardboard business card.
The Apple engineer’s glass iPhone screen card was made by a friend, who came up with the idea because he often took meetings with Apple staffers. “I use it just to impress Apple people,” said the cardmaker, who prefers to remain anonymous. “They look at it and they immediately want to know what I do.”
He made the first one before taking a meeting with a buyer for Apple’s retail stores. He had a product he was hoping would be sold in Apple’s stores, and wanted to impress the buyer. “I showed it to him, and I could tell he was thinking, ‘This guy knows his shit.'”
Or maybe not. He is still waiting for word on whether the product will be given the green light. The buyer might have reacted like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
Still, the cardmaker is hoping Apple CEO Tim Cook gets wind of the rarefied business cards and orders 1,000.
“They are just for fun,” he said. “I wanted something that was truly unique. I wanted to do something no one else has. And because I work in the Apple ecosystem, it makes a lot of sense to have something unique like this. People talk about it.”