The real point of MacBook Air - and why everyone is missing it.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Stuart in Oz, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    It seems to me that everyone is missing the real point of the MacBook Air.

    This computer was not released to be a great laptop. It wasn't released to sell in large volumes and it wasn't released to give you everything you currently get in a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

    The MacBook Air was released to remind the world that Apple is way ahead of the rest of the industry. It is to plant in the minds of the consumer today the seed that will sprout into a visit to an Apple shop for a new laptop in 2010.

    Apple have always been deeply involved in the development and progress of portable computing and they want to stay at the cutting edge.

    In 1989 they broke new ground with the Macintosh Portable, setting the basic design for modern laptops. In 1991, (to quote Wikipedia), "The Apple PowerBook series, introduced in October 1991, pioneered changes that are now de facto standards on laptops." In 2001 we got the Titanium Powerbook - that machine set the basic standard in design (both stylistic and technical) for laptops for the next 7 years (and still counting).

    Now, once again, there are technologies coming together that make a radical redesign possible. And so Apple have given it to us. The MacBook Air. Think of the MacBook Air as the pioneering generation of the next 10 years of Apple laptops. Like the Titanium Powerbook it has set a basic size and shape that breaks new boundaries and it has brought together a grouping of technologies that will become standard over the 10 year life of this design.

    • Multi Touch not very useful? Wait until the software makers have had 3 or 4 years to explore it's potential.
    • Fixed battery with poor life? The battery industry is promising new generation batteries by around 2010 with double the current life and 5 minute recharging times (do a Google search - look for Hitachi especially).
    • No optical drive? Think how far iTunes has come with music in the last 3 years. How far do you think it will go with movies in the next 3? And my local computer store is selling 8GB USB keys for A$49 (US$39) at the moment. In 3 years you don't think 64GB keys will be the same price? Who wants a DVD burner then?
    • No inbuilt Ethernet & only 1 USB? 3 years ago I was the only person with a wireless network in my street. Right now my computer is detecting 18 home networks and my middle aged non-technical neighbour proudly showed me her new wireless printer two weeks ago. Wireless really is the future. Even hotels will catch up.
    • Scared by the price of the SSD? 3 years ago a 64GB SSD would have put a premium on the machine of over $10 000. Today it's down to a few hundred dollars. By 2010 it will be the standard.

    So sure, the MacBook Air of early 2008 has limitations, is missing heaps of stuff we all think is essential and probably won't sell that many. But when you go to buy your next laptop, and the one after that, it will likely be an upgraded version of what we have seen released today.

    And ever newspaper reader and TV news watcher of today's unveiling will remember for the next 10 years that Apple were the first to do this modern new design that everyone else is now copying, and honey, shouldn't we see what they have in their store before we look at a PC laptop?
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2004
    Wow! Great post! I totally agree with all of your points. I really like what they have introduced yesterday. :cool:
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 17, 2007
    Nice post, i agree. I think that in a few years a lot of laptop manufacturers will be following apple's lead - just like they have done in the past with isight cameras built in, all in one pcs, firewire... etc.
    As Steve said himself, it is only the beginning of the year, i think we can see more great apple products and revisions over the rest of the year.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2008
    Air as in airport

    One other point to note: Do you remember when Apple stopped equipping their computers with floppydisks? Everyone was howling about how terrible this was, lots of external floppys became available, and so on. And where's the floppy now? I think that not only space considerations is behind Apple's desicion to drop the optical drive in this computer - they are rather hinting about the wireless future of computers. All in line with their iPod Touch, iPhone and Apple TV - wireless and diskless computers all. "Air" has for years been Apple's name for it's wireless devices, remember.
  5. macrumors 68040


    Dec 2, 2003
    I agree with your idea that Apple were trying to push the envelope to set a new design paradigm. Jobs often repeats a quote from Wayne Gretsky (sp?) "You have to skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is now." But in this case I think jobs overshot the puck. When Apple dropped the floppy disk drive, it clearly was an obsolete technology that was just waiting to be dropped by the entire industry. The same could be said of the optical drive today.

    However, ethernet is not even close to being obsolete and is still very much a prime technology that's constantly used in many environments. Same with the battery. Maybe in a couple of years the battery life will be sufficient to never need swapping or replacing, but that's not the case today. Today and for at least the next few years many people still need swappable and replaceable batteries.

    Jobs overshot the puck on this one.
  6. macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2008
    It seems to me that...
    ... this is not the point. MBA might be the best ultra ever (why not) and a fair price (I don't know) but please understand, people complaining on this site for what has been said (or has not been said) by SJ just don't care. They either don't need one, don't want one or just are not willing to pay for one.

    If you read the supporting replies in MR you will notice that a lot of them go like '...when I go back to school ...'. I perfectly agree that a MBA is a great machine to show the fellows at school you're rich, beautiful etc.

    But for 'The Rest of Us" i.e. those who have to earn their money by using notebooks, MBA is only a good choice, if it fits a lot better in a bag than MB or MBP (which I doubt, as the footprint of MBA is not really smaller). OK there is the better design :eek: , but for the rest MB and MBP, also quite thin, are by far the better deal. And a lot of people are waiting for them to be released with Penryn and Blu-Ray. At least I will not buy am MBP at EUR 2,800 (about $ 4,100) before this release, only to learn 24 hours after holding it in my hands, that the expected upgrade will happen now.
  7. macrumors regular

    May 6, 2003
    Why Everyone Is Not Missing It

    1. Wireless is slow.
    2. Wireless is insecure.
    3. It's expensive.
    4. For the extra cost you can have half the features.

    If you want to see show ponies go buy a horse because this particular machine is way overpriced and way under featured.
  8. macrumors 68040


    May 16, 2006
    Central Florida!
    bought 2, and cant wait to get them in my hands :)
  9. macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    Stuart, your original post makes me reticent to sell my Apple stock. :)
  10. macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2006
    I'm missing the point because Apple want to show the world what a great laptop they can build? Don't be naive. Apple don't build this, ASUS or Acer are building this.

    Is it a good design? Yes. Does it make it worth buying? No.

    Is the Ferrari Enzo a good design? Yes. Could you drive this monster car to work and back and also do the shopping in it? No.

    If they wanted to show the world how good they are at pushing the envelope, they could start by fixing their god-awful build quality, then putting proper 24-bit displays in their laptops instead of some tired old 18-bit displays. If they did that I would buy a new laptop, actually I need one as some bastard stole my laptop on Friday in Brussels. I want from Apple, a no compromise 17" 1080p 4gig, 320gb monster that can do anything a desktop machine can do, not a piece of cack that looks good on a coffee table in StarBucks.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2007

    I totally agree with everything you've said...

    1 little problem. I've bin looking forwards to getting this for nearly a year now and now its out, its so tempting to get one. Is it really that bad to get now?
  12. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    Thanks for putting this post out there.

    I am sick of all the whiners and complainers who just can't be satisfied because they can't look past yesterday's technology.

    Well done!
  13. Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    That's just spiffy, and that's what you want. Doesn't mean there aren't plenty of business travellers for whom the spec of this machine is more than they will ever need, and that value size and weight enormously when considering a purchase.

    The MBA quite clearly isn't for everyone, but just because certain people didn't get exactly what they want doesn't make it a useless ill-conceived product.

    I think Stuart in Oz hit the nail on the head in many respects. I have no doubt features seen in this currently expensive laptop will soon be seen in a budget MB near you.
  14. macrumors regular


    Sep 12, 2006
    Rome, Italy
  15. macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2007
    How many of you guys here have a main PC and then a laptop? Those are the people that the MacBook Air targets. I do all my burning, dvd ripping, main data storage, etc. on my Shuttle SFF PC. I've got my laptop to use when I'm out on the road. Am I the type to watch movies when I'm on the plane? Nope. Even if I was and I purchased the MBA, look at how Apple is trying to converge everything. Steve probably would want you to rent a bunch of movies, or buy or convert a bunch of movies, store them on your iMac/PowerMac, send some to your MacBook Air and then go out on the road with this superthin laptop.

    Another application for this laptop is for business. We've got laptops all over the hospital and office. Do they all need to be these huge desktop replacements? Do they all need DVD players or harddrives? No. All we need these laptops to be are terminals. Same thing in education. Do you think these kids need all that extra HD space or a DVD drive?

    I think this is where MacBook Air comes in. Look at how ugly the Dell 13" laptops are compared to this. Steve is just covering another niche in the computing world that Apple has yet to address. This wasn't meant to be something revolutionary, or a big ugly desktop replacement. This is meant for people who just want something that a laptop is supposed to be. Your second on-the-go computer.
  16. macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2008
    I totally agree with your sentiment. I would never buy it, but I've been showing it off to all my friends because it's and amazing piece of technology.
  17. macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    The OP makes excellent points. Honestly, Apple probably won't sell many of these in 2008. But that's not the point. They are building an image. They are looking to the future. In 10 years all laptops will be more like the MBA than the MB or MBP in a lot of ways. That's the point that Apple, and the OP is making.
  18. macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    Overall I think its a great laptop for a Sales guy that's lugging the thing around all day.

    I'm a little surprised that Intel went and shrunk the package for them, but couldn't convince Apple to go with the WiMax enabled chip. I know Intel makes the all-in-one chips now, I'd be interested in seeing which wireless chipset is in the thing. I wasn't impressed by Big Steve's "most advanced wireless" claim.

    Not that WiMax is big now, but in the next year or so, were going to see some good things come around. Unfortunately, there isn't ANY expandability on this thing.

    This isn't really a consumer laptop, which is probably why you see all the negative votes. I think this is the start of things to come for the bigger laptops, especially with Greenpeace on their Butts about Eco-Friendly manufacturing.

    I guess we'll see what happens when the thing actually starts shipping ;)
  19. macrumors 68000

    Dec 15, 2006
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Great Post.

    The MacBook Air is not a pro machine nor a consumer one. Its either for people that travel quite a lot, have an iMac/Mac Pro/Mac mini and want something light to take around or for apple fanatics.
    This notebook is not supposed to have massive performance levels, because, like I said before its not a pro. People want it for media: photos, music, movie clips, internet browsing...
  20. macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2007
    Helsinki, Finland
    By 2010 you've bought your 3rd MBA for daily use, because of non-changeable battery. If you like to buy a whole laptop instead of new battery, just keep buing MBAs every year. Share holders will be pleased.
  21. macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2007
    I think the Air is genius in its own world of thin laptops. However, 4 months after purchasing my 2.4 and still using a USB 1.0 hub for my palm and officejet pro, and then firewire 400 for my neptune 250gig starting to see how quickly space can be filled for a full time student.

    Apple failed to recognize that the majority of their laptop sales have gone to college students, freshmen in particular. I know at my campus of nearly 40k ppl, 4 years ago when I popped out my laptop for my first class's lecture, I got eyes staring at it wondering what the heck my powerbook g4 aluminum 12" was. That was a SLICK portable computer, but since then I've gone to the 15" line and have been with it since my sophomore fall semester. New users to Macs who don't have very demanding agendas for their laptops buy the macbook - i even got one for my ex last summer.

    The macbooks though, have reasonable power to do some graphics work in iMovie and other fun apps that apple has introduced. Is this air laptop worth anything with the limited space capabilities? Why isnt there an option for a bigger HD, I understand the 4200 rpm reasons - its a tiny laptop.

    This laptop as somebody pointed out is little more than an accessory item to show your wealth. They really should have taken the macbook setup, and shrunk it by .2-.3 inches making it .8 inches think that would be a very attractive comp for college students as we always are looking for smaller computing.

    Maybe if I were blessed with a mac pro, I could justify using such a tiny, weak laptop - but as it is - my macbook pro 2.4 has what I need in a computer so that I can design my documentary films in iMovie HD, set em up clean with magic DVD in iDvd, while thats going on have the power to be syncing my iPod and time machine backing up, while loading to my palm a new version of Chess, downloading PDF files to save away for debate classes, printing those that need to be - running safari checking out my forums, checking my major emails in Mail Client while browsing through downloaded youtube films or the iTunes store all without taking a beating anywhere in speed.

    the 160 gig HD my macbook came with has after 4 months of exhaustive senior honors program here - a whopping 8gig available. Got it, all new software, one on one (which has never turned out to be necessary), and pro care with the standard apple care warranty for 3.000. Now my next upgrade is hopefully being developed by hitachi for a 250gig 7200rpm 2.5" internal hdd which would make me happy. Otherwise I am prolly gonna end up getting the 320gig 5400 from WD though I never have liked them the reviews are going well for it. More than what I can say for the stock HD which has been replaced already.

    Just my 2 cents on the macbook line up. The Pro with student discount is same as the new Air's price. But the Air has 2 options that double its price instead of 5 options that make it a variable portable laptop. I can't see myself in near years trying to compromise anything to get an air laptop unless I stumble upon a more powerful mac Pro which leaves me hanging when I need to do work in the 12 hours on campus each day.

    Oh well, all the best to Apple, Jobs usually catches on quick if something is wrong, and who knows I might even end up being off center with my problems with the laptop. All I can testify is that a lil fatter than what it came it but having triple the features probably should have been introduced along with this Air if they were wanting to continue their momentum in the laptop field
  22. Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    You need to do your research before making statements like that. The battery is not non-changeable, it's just not user-changeable. Apple will replace the battery for you for only the cost of the battery (US$129) - no install fee.
  23. macrumors 6502


    Jun 11, 2004
    and that is a Pro spec machine. so either get a desktop machine, or get a macbook pro. the macbook air is not aimed at your niche
    it's aimed at my niche where my desktop macs are the ones i do all the heavy workload on and i just need a laptop for light work and travel

    look at it this way - if they'd given you your updated MBP yesterday, what would have to look forward to for the rest of the year? :D
  24. macrumors 601


    Sep 5, 2005
    What? That makes no sense at all… in fact it is just plain wrong and misinformed. :rolleyes: :confused:
  25. macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    What features? It looks like the trackpad (except for shape) is the same as in the MBP, and all that wifi stuff is software based too.

    The "features" you speak of is "non-features", except for the weight and the optional SSD. They're nonfeatures, because it really isn't anything more than omissions and downgrades in a pretty shelll. Hell, even the screen is exactly the same as in the current MacBook.
    You too speak of size, but the computer has the same footprint as the current MacBook, and it really isn't that thin. No matter how it looks from great angles, it's still not thinner than it's wides point, just like a car isn't, say, 1 metre tall, just because the bonnet (hood for you americans) is at that height. You have to include the roof too, you know.

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