Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacWorld Keynote - Disappointing and Scary

Steve Jobs just announced the MacBook Air at Macworld. This is something that I had been looking forward to seeing but now that it's announced, its really nothing that I'm interested in -- in the slightest bit.

In the past year Apple has become obsessed with making thinner and thinner machines. It started with the iMac (seriously, a desktop needs to be super thin?) and now it seems to be the only thing they were really interested in with the MacBook Air. Now, I give it the lightness factor. The weight of a portable device is a concern but the thickness of a machine does not directly affect weight - especially if you're using aluminum. The worst part of the whole announcement is that it's got a 13" screen - same size as the regular MacBook.

The machine is going to have a 1.8" hard drive which simply can not perform like a 2.5 or a 3.5 drive can. They are great drives for iPods but not for computers. My favorite lightweight solution is by far the Fujitsu Lifebook machines which also carry 1.8" hard drives and this is a notable performance decrease. The thing is, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. With the MacBook Air you still have a machine with the same footprint. Not only is that the case but the machine is thinner and this creates an issue with durability. This is a physics thing, really. The thinner something gets, the less durable it can be. Last I checked, if you're looking for a machine that is lightweight its because you're going to be carrying it with you. This means it will be in various types of bags, will have the chance to fall off numerous tables and chairs, and come in contact with many different people including children. If you can fit all that stuff in something that will fit in an envelope, why not keep it the same thickness and move it down to a 10" form factor and still have the same weight while adding a 2.5" hard drive back in. That's portability and a little more durable.

Among other announcements was the Time Capsule. This is basically an Airport with a built in hard drive. Ok, its a decent idea but the question that comes to my mind is why did the ability to talk to remote disks disappear from Time Machine. According to Apple it was because of instability. Sadly, we believed them. Now they announce that it will work with their new Time Capsule but not for other disks. How does this not work over wired ethernet with other computers but it works fine with apple's disk over wireless? If your talking about data integrity (which Apple was) then you're definately more solid on a wired connection. It really has the taste of "hey thats great that time machine can do that but let's cripple it so we can sell a device later".

I have to admit I do like the announcements regarding iTunes and AppleTV. I think there is potential there. I'm not at the point of buying an AppleTV but with my ever-growing hatred for Comcast, I am keeping my eyes open to alternatives.

Overall, this day has been very sad for me. What I have somewhat feared is starting to show it's face and I hope that it gets put back under the consumer's control. Apple has shown examples of Microsoft-like practices. These tactics aren't what rebuilt Apple into what it is today and, while it's not going to immediately hurt them, it will start building animosity towards a company that will later be in control of everything and have the average consumer trapped.

I like Apple... I'm sticking with OSX... I just think I'm going to keep an active eye on what's going on from here on out.

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