FireWire's future getting doused by Apple?


Photorun

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Sep 1, 2003
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I'm glad this article was OpEd because we should all hope Firewire isn't going to be betamaxed by sucktacular USB.
 

greatdevourer

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Aug 5, 2005
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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

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
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They can turn it into a nice expensive add-on, just like they got away with for a basic capability like fax.
 

balamw

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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

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May 2, 2002
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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

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balamw said:
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.
balamw said:
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

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Jun 23, 2003
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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

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Mar 23, 2005
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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

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shamino said:
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. ;)

shamino said:
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

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Nov 27, 2003
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shamino said:
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.
 
Unlikely but not impossible

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.

nagromme said:
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?
 

SiliconAddict

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Jun 19, 2003
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greatdevourer said:
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

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May 2, 2002
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Eidorian said:
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

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May 2, 2002
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rvernout said:
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

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Apr 16, 2004
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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

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
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nagromme said:
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

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2004
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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:
 

shamino

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Jan 7, 2004
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Eidorian said:
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

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Jan 7, 2004
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AlmostThere said:
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.)
AlmostThere said:
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.
AlmostThere said:
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.
AlmostThere said:
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

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nagromme said:
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.