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The pundits begin to catch on.

February 5, 2008

Last week the fellas on TWIT (the podcast) finally started to catch on. They were discussing the MacBook Air (I am currently typing on one of those), and trying to figure out why people would buy one. Most of the nay-sayers to this point have been disappointed with the fact that there are a number of things that this machine does not have … and it’s true, this machine does not have some of the things that the MacBook does (like most of the ports, bigger hard drive, faster processor). It’s interesting to me how people want more ports, buttons, switches, and how so often they find out that more of those things do not necessarily make a computer better.

I’m a little different … one of the reasons that I ordered this darn thing immediately after the MacWorld keynote is that it is precisely what I wanted (and what I predicted in a lecture in December was going to be one of the “next big things”). I had noticed quite a while ago that my old Powerbook G4 1.67 ghz (with the broken display) was actually doing quite well, worked quickly and had no problem doing anything that I wanted to do … until I yanked it off a table and knocked out the display, I had no reason for anything new in the foreseeable future. I had always thought that the G4 actually had a number of things that I was ready to do without … certainly, I didn’t really attach that many peripherals to it and it was covered in holes for that purpose. I also had recently decided that optical drives are not crucial to me. All I ever did with it was rip CDs (and then burn them), but that can be done on my desktop. I store pretty much everything on external hard drives anymore, so storage space is also not a big issue. So, along came the EEEpc from Asus last year and much talk of the subnotebook, and I began thinking that the way people behave really means that they don’t need big devices to haul around … just the ability to access the ‘Net. Then, at the keynote, it was like Apple had read my mind, and now I’m planning my work around this new technology (and so far, loving it).

The pundits finally made some good points last week. First, Apple had Intel design an entirely new chip just for this computer. It is extremely unlikely that they would do this just for one machine. It also is normal for Apple to be thinking about this as a line of products or a strategic direction, not just a one-off novelty. As with other things (read back to my post on entrepreneurial character), the pieces start to fall into place if you really really think it through. Apple is producing a lot of ultra- portable computing right now, from the iPod Touch through to this laptop. They also have something called .mac, that provides online storage. The pundits finally started to put it together and realized that while this is a cool shiny object, it is also an indication of strategy.

What Apple is doing, I would guess, is working on a new direction. This involves acknowledging that lots of people now do a lot of things online (duh). They buy music and movies (and rent them online from Apple), they store photos online, and share documents there. If Apple can produce a machine that is a pleasure to use and easy to carry around (and looks cool), and also provide the space online to do all of these things, then people might begin living in an even more Apple world (as though the incredible success of iTunes isn’t enough). If .mac allowed one to store things online and work online, and share documents online, and it sync’d your content, so that your most recent versions of everything were backed up online and available anywhere, they might just have something. Thinking this through is another example of that “entrepreneurial character” that I wrote about in some past post. To imagine that all of this (and more) is being thought through somewhere is pretty cool, but past experience would suggest that this is precisely what is happening. I look forward to the next steps.

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2 comments

  1. Stop it, Doug, you’re almost making me want to go Mac. Truth is, I have almost no need for a laptop – but for those few occasions that I do need one, the Air is the kind of thing I’d want.

    There’s more and more online storage popping up (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2098943,00.asp), so this is becoming more and more viable.

    Someday, when I have job like yours, I too can become an early adopter of something. Well, besides Rock Band.


  2. I’m back. Thought of you when I read this:
    http://gizmodo.com/353324/the-macbook-air-ssd-performance-boost-pretty-much-non+existent

    Maybe I’ll wait for Air 2.0.



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