Thursday, January 17, 2008
The seeds are on the inside
The MacBook Air was a decent announcement for the keynote, but I don't think it was the most important item that day. I think what Apple is doing with iTunes in terms of rentals was huge. Nobody else seems to be making it in that arena, and Apple has a strong marketshare of audience and the capability to execute better than anyone else here.
Remember, the iPod wasn't the first or the most feature rich MP3 player when it was announced, but now, its da bomb. Online movie rentals aren't new either, but the change to AppleTV signifies that Apple understands our digital lifestyle needs and they're in the thick of it with the change to AppleTV, TimeCapsule, and iTunes. The only thing glaringly missing from AppleTV is a DVR capability, but this conflicts with Apple's desire to SELL you TV shows, not record them. So don't expect this anytime soon as a feature. (this is good news to Elgato and company with their eyeTV products)
The other key hardware announcement was Apple's 100% commitment to the embedded OSX platform. Of course this was hiding in plain sight in the MacBook Air release. Huh? Follow me here...
1. The Air (MacBook Air) motherboard. Super duper small. Small energy requirements. Small thermal footprint. Look at it. Take away the keyboard, make the screen smaller, add a touch screen overlay - you can have one hell of a small handheld unit just based on existing parts. And we're not talking a lame iPhone CPU here, we're talking a real Core2 Duo machine. The reason the Air doesn't have all the ports we have on the MacBook/Pro? Because the other machine that shares its motherboard doesn't need them either. ;-)
2. Intel's working with Apple to shrink the chip's physical footprint on the motherboard to enable them to build the Air. This is significant since actual sales of the Air will NOT justify Intel doing this. The Air has a small market, a high price point and won't even come close to the sales volumes of the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Intel did this for Apple for the forthcoming handheld that will fly off the shelves and have actual sales volume.
3. New multi-touch gestures being integrated into OSX. They're kinda clunky on a laptop, but work great on an iPhone. Multi-touch isn't a big deal for the Air, but its a road sign that we're going to be seeing machines that will NEED multi-touch like the iPhone does because there's no integrated keyboard.
4. Non user-replaceable battery. Get used to it.