Laptops

Who are Craob, the makers of the world’s first portless laptop?

Craob website
Mystery laptop: the Craob portless Ultrabook

In the past week, technology news sites have been excited by the announcement of the Craob X, a portless laptop . The Craob X comes with a wireless charger that doubles as a hub. It has no USB ports, no charging port, no ports at all!

However, all we have to go on at the moment is a single page Craob website, with few concrete details on the laptop or the company behind it. Can we use technology to try and work out who’s behind this intriguing project?

The WHOIS data

If you’ve not come across WHOIS before, it’s a handy tool for working out more about a website. It logs data such as who registered the site, which might give us a clue as to Craob’s founders.

Alas, WHOIS doesn’t tell us too much in this case, as the true owner has been hidden. All we know is the site has been registered via GoDaddy and that the domain was registered in 2018. But when did this website go live?

Craob website archives

Archive.org has a fantastic tool named the Wayback Machine which lets you look up old copies of a website. It does this via a calendar, highlighting when major changes were made to a domain.

For Craob.com, we can see the present site went live on 31st January 2022. However, there was activity a couple of months earlier on November 29th 2021, which was a holding page showing it was parked with GoDaddy.

What’s the site built with?

Now we’ll use the excellent website, BuiltWith, to tell us what technologies the website is using.

This tells us that it’s built with WordPress and uses the WooCommerce eCommerce plugin. It also strongly suggests that the site is hosted with GoDaddy.

So, what does this tell us? Well, if this was a large company, you wouldn’t expect $15 per month hosting. The fact that WooCommerce is present does suggest that, although a single page right now, they are intending to open up sales at some point. Why go to the bother of installing or paying extra for something you don’t intend to use?

BuiltWith shows the site is using an off-the-shelf theme. That doesn’t discount there being a larger company behind it, but it would be unusual for this to be the case.

Another thing that BuiltWith can do is to tell you when it detected various functionality on the site. Whilst it appears that some kind of holding page was in place, tracking visits, most of the content didn’t appear until the past few months, backing up what The Wayback Machine told us.

Finally, we can see any IP addresses that have been associated with the site. Not surprisingly, recent IP addresses, if you run them through a WHOIS, show they belong to GoDaddy. However, go back further and this changes to Google – more specifically, IP ranges belonging to Google Cloud Customers. This doesn’t really tell us anything, as it may be that the domain passed between people using different technologies or, simply, that when setting up the site they changed site host.

Social media

Whether you’re looking at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever, Craob has no social media presence which, in this day and age, is unusual. Equally, search social media for any mention of the company or the laptop before last month and you come up empty.

(Tip: Suffix a Google search with before:2022 to search before this year. For Twitter, you’d suffix until:2022-01-01 to achieve the same thing.)

Going to the source

Another tip is to look at a website’s page source. How you access this will depend on your browser (and, to some extent, OS) but it’s one of the browser toolbar options. In this case, though, it didn’t indicate anything extra.

Using your eyes

Let’s not underestimate what simply looking at the site can reveal. Here we can see:

  • The name is inconsistent – it’s shown on the this single page as Craob, craob and CRAOB
  • There are problems with the colours chosen on the page, such as the white and light-green text on a white background – it’s difficult to make out and something I would’t expect from a professionally created site
  • In the site’s footer, it makes mention of the company “Craob Inc”.
  • The “Inc” suggests a US company but I cannot find any US company registered under this name (for the US you have to search by state; I did this so you don’t have to!)
    • Indeed, looking at the models on the site, they are Caucasian, consistent with a US company
    • The plug on the mains cable is US standard
    • The laptop is showing a US keyboard
  • Assuming they are based in the US, there are no patents under their name
  • It’s generally recognised that the images on the page of the laptop are mock-ups, but this is not unusual for companies to do pre-release
  • And does “craob” mean anything? I can’t find this word at all, so it simply appears to be made up, which is often the case now as finding free domains names becomes harder and harder.

So, who are Craob?

In conclusion, we still don’t know much. It would be interesting to understand how the news of this product release got out, but as many sites take their cue from others, it can be hard to identify the original source.

The mock-ups, even if they are just that, have been well made and look professional, yet this is in stark comparison to the site, which is on a cheap hosting plan and amateurishly put together. The mention of a company name that doesn’t exist is revealing but, then again, so is the fact that they’ve set the site up ready to sell products.

If I had to put money on this one, I’d call it out as a soon-to-be-announced crowdsourcing product. This page has been thrown up in advance to generate interest but, without any money coming in yet, it’s been done cheaply, albeit with the high quality designs that they know they’ll need once they appear on Kickstarter or wherever.

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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