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MacBytes
Dec 12, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: FireWire's future getting doused by Apple? (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20051212114155)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

Photorun
Dec 12, 2005, 11:39 AM
I'm glad this article was OpEd because we should all hope Firewire isn't going to be betamaxed by sucktacular USB.

greatdevourer
Dec 12, 2005, 11:53 AM
If Apple were to drop FireWire, they'd lose about 80% of their market in an instant. No more FireWire; no more Audio, Video or Graphics people; wait a year; no more Apple computers

iMeowbot
Dec 12, 2005, 11:56 AM
They can turn it into a nice expensive add-on, just like they got away with for a basic capability like fax.

chewbaccapits
Dec 12, 2005, 12:09 PM
If Apple were to drop FireWire, they'd lose about 80% of their market in an instant. No more FireWire; no more Audio, Video or Graphics people; wait a year; no more Apple computers


:rolleyes:

Whatever....

trebblekicked
Dec 12, 2005, 12:12 PM
echo chamber.

we're reading a rumor site quoting a rumor site quoting a rumor site. this is being discussed out the wazoo right here (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=166110).

balamw
Dec 12, 2005, 12:36 PM
IMHO Firewire will continue to have a long healthy life on lots of devices, particularly all the HDTV devices that incorporate a FireWire/iLink/DishWire/... bus.

However, I believe, it will probably disappear as a standard feature on some Macs. Probably the most compact/low-end models. Deal with it, or just buy an older/higher end Mac.

Remember that SCSI is no longer standard on all Macs, and ADB and RS-422 are long gone too.

B

nagromme
Dec 12, 2005, 12:38 PM
The cheapest/smallest iBook might lose Firewire if they decide to have really stripped-down model (which is fine by me--as ONE option in the lineup). And FW800 might become the standard, as long as an adapter gives you FW400.

But FW is here to stay. FW is seldom truly needed by iPod users. It's OFTEN needed by computer users, for basic, common tasks--consumer and pro alike. (For the record, I'm one who DOES need FW on an iPod: I don't just play music, I boot OS X off mine. USB can't do that.)

Reasons for Apple's ongoing commitment to Firewire:

1. Camcorders and iMovie and iDVD.

2. iSight.

3. Huge family of FW400 products, and pro uses such as audio.

4. FW400 is faster (except in bursts) than USB2.0. FW800 is faster still--and it doesn't end there.

5. Firewire is bootable. Troubleshooting, backups, etc.

6. FW target disk mode (and the assistant app for easy migration to a new Mac).

7. Camcorders and iMovie and iDVD.

8. FW hubs built into all Apple displays.

9. You still need multiple things connected at once, so they'd only have to add more USB ports anyway.

10. Removing FW from iPods (I miss booting too!) was a reasonable business decision that doesn't impact most people and doesn't relate in any way to some larger "abandonment" of Firewire. The irony: people complaining about the lack of FW on new iPods are often the ones stuck using USB 1.1 on an older Mac. And why WAS Apple late to use USB 2.0? Because of their commitment to Firewire.

11. Firewire networking in OS X.

12. Other rumored FW devices from Apple in the recent past: Asteroid.

13. Firewire is Apple's OWN technology (and name).

14. FW has been catching on with PCs too. (And doesn't Apple make fees when companies use Firewire?)

15. Camcorders and iMovie and iDVD.

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 12:40 PM
IMHO Firewire will continue to have a long healthy life on lots of devices, particularly all the HDTV devices that incorporate a FireWire/iLink/DishWire/... bus.

However, I believe, it will probably disappear as a standard feature on some Macs. Probably the most compact/low-end models. Deal with it, or just buy an older/higher end Mac.
It would be an incredibly about-face, considering how much they enjoy talking about programs like iMovie and iDVD - which are practically useless without a FireWire video camera.

Ditch FireWire and you ditch 40% of iLife.
Remember that SCSI is no longer standard on all Macs, and ADB and RS-422 are long gone too.
These devices outlived their usefulness before Apple dropped them. Quite the opposite of this rumor.

rvernout
Dec 12, 2005, 12:55 PM
If Apple really were to abandon FireWire on their next laptop range, that would REALLY be a reason to abandon Apple. I currently own a 3 year old iBook without USB2, so i can't buy the new iPod until I buy a new iBook or PowerBook (hopefully soon, waiting for the first intel models). I also recently bought an iSight, a DVD writer and a external HD, all FireWire only, which according to this rumour would be useless with my new iBook or PowerBook. Hence, the FireWire>>USB2 transition period would be way too short to be acceptable for many customers.

Eidorian
Dec 12, 2005, 01:00 PM
10. Removing FW from iPods (I miss booting too!) was a reasonable business decision that doesn't impact most people and doesn't relate in any way to some larger "abandonment" of Firewire. The irony: people complaining about the lack of FW on new iPods are often the ones stuck using USB 1.1 on an older Mac. And why WAS Apple late to use USB 2.0? Because of their commitment to Firewire.I thought it was due to Classic support. There isn't any USB 2.0 support under Classic.

balamw
Dec 12, 2005, 01:03 PM
It would be an incredibly about-face, considering how much they enjoy talking about programs like iMovie and iDVD - which are practically useless without a FireWire video camera.

Like switching to Intel, no two button mice, no flash iPods, and replacing the best selling iPod mini in its prime. ;)


Ditch FireWire and you ditch 40% of iLife.
These devices outlived their usefulness before Apple dropped them. Quite the opposite of this rumor.
I think that part of the issue that makes this less uncomfortable for me is that consumer level devices (including camcorders) are rapidly moving away from DV as more efficient codecs become available, which also limits the usefulness of 40% of iLife. Got a new DVD-RW camcorder? Can't use it with FW. How about an MPEG-4 based flash camcorder. Can't use it with FW.

BTW I've actually used iMovie and iDVD with the 320x240 MJPEG clips that my digital camera produces, and these were imported via USB. I wouldn't be surprised if iLife '06 wouldn't be better optimized for these kinds of devices.

Finally, IMHO, SCSI is still more useful than IDE. :p

B

Sunrunner
Dec 12, 2005, 01:07 PM
It would be an incredibly about-face, considering how much they enjoy talking about programs like iMovie and iDVD - which are practically useless without a FireWire video camera.

Ditch FireWire and you ditch 40% of iLife.
These devices outlived their usefulness before Apple dropped them. Quite the opposite of this rumor.


EXACTLY. Apple is not going to dump Firewire 400 OR 800 anytime in the near future for exactly these reasons. The blood running through Apple's veins is multimedia it its core, and with the devault standard for DV video input being FW, Apple would not dare drop it. Such an act would be analagous to shooting yourself in the kneecap with a shotgun. FW 800 follows roughly the same story, too many pros have bought off on the technology to make phaseout feasible in the near future on the desktops.

Expect laptops to retain FW 400 support, and desktops to retain both FW 400 and FW 800. Phaseout before 2008 would just not be realistic.

AlmostThere
Dec 12, 2005, 01:33 PM
Probably also worth remembering that iSight is making its way into the computer - already there in the new iMac and IIRC aren't the new Intel books rumoured to have iSight built in? It wouldn't surprise me if the iSight became a niche product itself and was eventually dropped or replaced with something more substantial.

When it comes down to it, for home users, the only real loss of Firewire is going to be camcorders. Remember that large numbers (possibly a majority) of PCs are sold without Firewire, so I question the demand for it. Sure it's a nice extra, but that great a loss? Is it something that would be so hard to make a USB compatibility widget for camcorders (tucked in the box with every copy of iLife 6)? Throw in the on-device encoding found more and more and how much need will there be in the future. I don't think the loss of performance as an issue in the home environment - in fact I doubt most home users are aware of the difference in performance or even notice if they are.

I don't see it being dropped in the pro-line, not to mention that it would be trivial to make as BTO for PowerMacs. Those who absolutely require FW might even be considered de facto pro users. An extensive range of FW devices is much more of a "pro" trait than home one and it is not exactly beyond Apple to make such distinctions to enhance sales.

For the record, I'm one who DOES need FW on an iPod: I don't just play music, I boot OS X off mine. USB can't do that.
Surely this is a limitation built in by Apple? PC users have been booting off USB drives for time (certainly with Linux, Windows makes you jump through some hoops but that's to do with Windows being an ass installing on anything other than "C"). The same would also apply to target disk mode, accessing the HD through USB rather than FW, just add whatever component to the firmware to add target USB disk mode.

FW has been catching on with PCs too. (And doesn't Apple make fees when companies use Firewire?)
Wasn't that one of the reasons for it's slow uptake and the rise of USB2?

reberto
Dec 12, 2005, 02:00 PM
(And doesn't Apple make fees when companies use Firewire?)
50 a port

SiliconAddict
Dec 12, 2005, 02:05 PM
If Apple were to drop FireWire, they'd lose about 80% of their market in an instant. No more FireWire; no more Audio, Video or Graphics people; wait a year; no more Apple computers


Yah because most PC's have powered FireWire 400 and 800 ports....oops.

nagromme
Dec 12, 2005, 02:09 PM
I thought it was due to Classic support. There isn't any USB 2.0 support under Classic.
That could be so. But that too was Apple's choice not to support USB 2.0 right away.

(Come to think of it, not booting from USB could be a similar decision stemming from Apple's desire to push Firewire.)

nagromme
Dec 12, 2005, 02:13 PM
I currently own a 3 year old iBook without USB2, so i can't buy the new iPod until I buy a new iBook or PowerBook (hopefully soon, waiting for the first intel models).
I'm waiting for the same :) But if you're ready for an iPod, you need not wait. I bought a USB 2 external drive when I was using my pre-Firewire USB 1.1 Lombard PowerBook. A USB 2 device will run on a USB 1.1 machine like yours--you just won't get USB 2 speed. Then, when you get a new machine, you'll see the true speed of your iPod.

And USB 1.1 isn't bad for music: you wait through a long initial synch, but only the first time. After that, you mainly just add a few songs at a time. For a small transfer like that, speed isn't as vital. (You'll be leaving the iPod plugged in to charge anyway.) I think you'll find a current iPod is a very capable music player even with USB 1.1--and then when you have USB 2, you'll gain speed for big transfers, backups, etc.

Passante
Dec 12, 2005, 03:10 PM
It makes sense to only have one port. This is not abandoning Firewire. Just updating the port. Why include 2 ports when 1 will handle both duties. This will have the added benefit of driving more people to FW 800.

Eidorian
Dec 12, 2005, 03:14 PM
That could be so. But that too was Apple's choice not to support USB 2.0 right away.

(Come to think of it, not booting from USB could be a similar decision stemming from Apple's desire to push Firewire.)Yeah, if they had gotten the G4 iBook out in August I'd have one of them. I'm still trying to sell my old Compaq X1010US. (It's a GREAT laptop, but it's Windows.)

LaMerVipere
Dec 12, 2005, 04:10 PM
From the "article":

But the truth remains that Apple has stopped shipping FireWire cables with the new iPods, so if you want to connect your iPod via FireWire, you’ll have to purchase that cable separately.

Someone needs to check their facts. Firewire support has been completely dropped for all new iPods. It can only be used for charging. :rolleyes:

greatdevourer
Dec 12, 2005, 04:16 PM
2. iSight.

11. Firewire networking in OS X. 2. The iSights in the iMac G5s are USB, not FireWire
11. It sucks. No, really. FireNet in X is damn awful

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 04:59 PM
I thought it was due to Classic support. There isn't any USB 2.0 support under Classic.
This is only because nobody bothered to write the driver. There's nothing in the architecture of classic Mac OS that would make such support impossible.

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 05:07 PM
When it comes down to it, for home users, the only real loss of Firewire is going to be camcorders.
I use it with my scanner and tape drive. Many Mac users (especially owners of older models) use it with external optical drives (since CDs can only write reliably at 2x speeds and DVD burners don't work at all over USB 1.1.)
Remember that large numbers (possibly a majority) of PCs are sold without Firewire, so I question the demand for it.
A lot of cheap PC's ship without it. A lot of other PCs ship with it. The Shuttle XPC I use at home has two FW ports (one powered and one unpowered.)

PCs sold for media use (especially from Sony) tend to include FW ports. Typically the unpowered variety (using Sony's trademarked name, iLink).

In terms of peripherals, external optical drives and hard drives with FW interfaces are common, even in stores like Best Buy. And DV camcorders almost exclusively use it.
Sure it's a nice extra, but that great a loss? Is it something that would be so hard to make a USB compatibility widget for camcorders (tucked in the box with every copy of iLife 6)?
A USB-FW converter dongle would not be cheap. How many people would want to add $50 to the price of iLife in order to get it? I know I wouldn't spend the money.
I don't see it being dropped in the pro-line, not to mention that it would be trivial to make as BTO for PowerMacs.
Ironically, it's in the pro line where it could be dropped most safely, because any user can buy a FW interface on a PCI or PCMCIA card. It's on the other models (iMac, iBook, mini) where the user doesn't have the option to add it later.

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 05:09 PM
That could be so. But that too was Apple's choice not to support USB 2.0 right away.

(Come to think of it, not booting from USB could be a similar decision stemming from Apple's desire to push Firewire.)
Mac firmware has no problem booting from USB. Those Macs capable of booting OS 9 can boot it from USB.

it's OS X that (for some inexplicable reason) doesn't support USB-booting.

I can't believe there is any reason other than lack of interest that prevents Apple from adding in this feature.

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 05:15 PM
A USB 2 device will run on a USB 1.1 machine like yours--you just won't get USB 2 speed.
The exception is with optical drives. Because of the speed restrictions, you can't burn CDs faster than 4x (and it's very unreliable faster than 2x), and you can't burn DVDs at all at 1.1 speeds.

Other devices are not timing-critical and will simply run slower.
And USB 1.1 isn't bad for music: you wait through a long initial synch, but only the first time. After that, you mainly just add a few songs at a time.
Depends on your usage patterns.

For instance, I've got a 40G music collection and a 4G iPod mini. I use smart playlists to shuffle songs through the iPod (deleting ones that were played, replacing them with ones not recently played.) After a long road trip, I may end up replacing 1-2GB on my next sync, which will take a long time at USB 1.1 speeds.

Ultimately, the impact of the slower speed will depend greatly on your application and your personal expectations.

shamino
Dec 12, 2005, 05:18 PM
It makes sense to only have one port. This is not abandoning Firewire. Just updating the port. Why include 2 ports when 1 will handle both duties. This will have the added benefit of driving more people to FW 800.
On a laptop, it's probably fine to include only one port (as long as they include a 800-400 adapter.)

On a desktop machine, you want several ports, to avoid the need for hubs. I'm currently using both FW ports on my PowerMac. If I buy a new device (say, an optical drive or a camcorder) then I'll need another - meaning either a PCI card or a hub.

Considering how cheap these ports are, Apple should include a lot of each. 6-8 USB ports and 3-4 FW ports would be great, IMO. (FWIW, I've seen many PC's with 6-8 USB ports, but few with more than 2 FW ports.)

jlewis2k1
Dec 12, 2005, 05:50 PM
you know it is very well possible that apple is attempting to bring in a new connectivity. we all have heard that apple has helped out with the firewire deal but whats going to stop them from developing something new and possibly a great deal faster than firewire?

grapes911
Dec 12, 2005, 06:40 PM
you know it is very well possible that apple is attempting to bring in a new connectivity. we all have heard that apple has helped out with the firewire deal but whats going to stop them from developing something new and possibly a great deal faster than firewire?
You mean Firewire 800? Or are you referring to Firewire 1600? What's going to stop them from bringing out a totally new and incompatible connectivity connection? Maybe the fact that they've put a lot of money into firewire. And the fact that many users already have it. Doesn't seem like a good business decision.

AlmostThere
Dec 12, 2005, 07:55 PM
I use it with my scanner and tape drive. Many Mac users (especially owners of older models) use it with external optical drives (since CDs can only write reliably at 2x speeds and DVD burners don't work at all over USB 1.1.)
Then you find yourself as many owners of parallel printers did and still do, and still going strong, thank you HP. Which new Macs are not going to come with CD or DVD burning built in? Do FW scanners and tape drives count as consumer level products? (The only FW scanners I have come across have been high resolution $500+, so feel free to fill in the blanks, the tape drive bit is rhetorical!).

In terms of peripherals, external optical drives and hard drives with FW interfaces are common, even in stores like Best Buy.
A quick search at Dabs (a large online UK computer parts supplier) shows they sell 175 models of external hard drive. 51 of these offer Firewire. 1 of those does not offer dual interface. The question is not whether they sell FW drives but whether they are FW only. It also prompts the question about where device manufacturers see FW heading.

A USB-FW converter dongle would not be cheap. How many people would want to add $50 to the price of iLife in order to get it? I know I wouldn't spend the money.
Depends on Apple's purchasing power, they did pretty well on flash memory. iLife 06 is probably not best, I agree, but again depends on the price Apple can get (maybe down to $10 for a USB-DV specific input for iMovie). Dropping Firewire would presumably be a profit based decision, so they could sell it as an extra. Compare it to the modem now sold as an extra with the iMac for people without broadband. Got FW only devices? Tick the box. Place your order. $50 seems like a small overhead to keep running a $1000 device.

jlewis2k1
Dec 12, 2005, 08:05 PM
You mean Firewire 800? Or are you referring to Firewire 1600? What's going to stop them from bringing out a totally new and incompatible connectivity connection? Maybe the fact that they've put a lot of money into firewire. And the fact that many users already have it. Doesn't seem like a good business decision.


im talking about something that isnt firewire. who knows whats going to happen but whatever apple has plan we shouldnt complain about it.

solvs
Dec 12, 2005, 10:30 PM
I thought it was due to Classic support. There isn't any USB 2.0 support under Classic.
That, and the Portal Player chipset didn't include fw support natively. It would have cost Apple extra and made the iPod thicker. And this rumor is still BS. Has O'Grady ever been right about anything?

What we might see is a mini notebook without fw, but I doubt Apple would be stupid enough to exclude it from their PCs.

nagromme
Dec 13, 2005, 12:38 AM
2. The iSights in the iMac G5s are USB, not FireWire
11. It sucks. No, really. FireNet in X is damn awful

What Apple chose for internal connections doesn't have to do with what they include for users and peripherals: the iSight product is a Firewire camera.

As for Firewire networking, I use it all the time without a problem. It's faster than Ethernet sometimes--like when I connect to a machine without 1000BaseT.