The Intel transition is over, Apple is moving on (should we join them?)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by 840quadra, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

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    #1
    Just some history and a bit of my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

    The Intel transition is over, Apple is moving on (should we join them?)


    pbg4.jpg
    15" Powerbook Titanium

    When introduced in 2001, The Powerbook G4 was a revolutinary computer in both design and hardware. The intial version was a revolution in laptop design by being cased in Titanium. This was the model that replaced the venerable Powerbook G3, a plastic laptop that itself was only 3 years old, but still full of many great features considered "firsts" in a professional laptop.

    pg4_17.jpg
    17" Powerbook

    Two years later, Apple placed two models alongside the Powerbook Titanium, a 17" and 12" Aluminum model that had similar industrial design, but took things a step further than their titanium sister. This was now almost 6 years ago, and for the most part, the production version of the 15" MacBook pro (just replaced), and the 17" model use the same design. Regardless of that, they still had lots of class, but in the world of computers, the design is somewhat of a dinosaur.

    (The powerbook G4 12" and 17" were both introduced in early 2003. When the MacBook Pro 17" is finally replaced in early 2009 (or late 2008) the design will have essentially been used for 6 years)

    mbp_17.jpg
    17" MacBook Pro

    Three years later, (which by previous Apple laptop runs was time for a design refresh or replacement) Apple moved to Intel based systems. This would have been a great time to make an all new case design for the intel based MacBook Pro, but they wanted to keep a feeling of stability and familiarity for those concerned that the move to Intel would be a drastic change. Apple helped avoid these concerns by doing next to nothing with regards to moving to a new design.

    Since the transition from PowerPC is now over, Apple is moving on to newer and better (in their opinion) things. We can either follow suit, and continue to buy their products, or move on to other things. Regardless what their fanbase thinks, many parts of Apple's product line were starting to look dated and needed either full replacement, or a key design refresh. With products like the Mac Mini (up for replacement??), and Mac Pro having designs that easily date back to the PowerPC days, it is easy to imagine tat the laptop line is not the only somewhat drastic change that we are going to see.
    overview-whichmacbook20081014.png
    Late 2008 MacBook and MacBook Pro​



    If you have a problem with drastic design changes, then I suspect you haven't been a Mac user for that long, or forgot the era in which the current MacBook design came from. I am personally hoping these new changes is a sign of a return to a quick paced Apple product line, with regards to both design, and technology.

    Comments, complaints, are welcome, again these are just some thoughts.

    A Mac user since beige,

    [​IMG]
     
  2. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    #2
    Most of us are Mac users since Beige.... I recall grade 1 (I've been out of college for several years now....) when I learned to use a computer for the first time on a Mac.

    Liked the post.
     
  3. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #3
    I don't think that the problem is "having a problem with design changes". Apple is simply moving away from the design philosophy that has served them so well.

    Their machines during this resurgence, were elegant in their simplicity, and the materials used were very high quality. In this minimalist elegance, Ive also created machines in which form most definitely followed function, and he created beauty that wowed designers and those with love of design.

    Some examples... The gooseneck iMac. The white iMac. The Mac Pro. The MacBook Pro (and its PowerPC forbearers), the MacBook and BlackBook, the Mini, and the Cube.

    The new machines look like Asus laptops. While I think the brick is a very good idea, these glass screens look like cheap Windows laptops, and the glare and reflections that they produce do not represent form following function. The same can be said of the new black bezels. There is a reason that all of this was met with revolt by the design community with the 'new' iMacs, and again with the new laptops.

    While there are many great things about these new machines, they are a step backwards in terms of form following function, and to be honest, I think all the glass and contrasting colors look like an old hooker tarted up for a go on the street. No doubt the consumers will love them, and hence Apple will profit, but the new designs are garish. The older machines cited above were, and are, design classics.
     
  4. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #4
    You forgot about 10 years of powerbooks :(

    But man I was the coolest dude on the block with my Tibook.
     
  5. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #5
    I wouldn't have a problem with a return to the quick paced Apple product line, with regard to design or technology... as long as the changes were not just for the sake of change. Like the old American car manufacturers philosophy: Just change the sheetmetal every year so we can sell new cars to those who now have last year's model, and feel exposed as so "last year." Every year the design was changed just because that's how they identified which year model it was. A '57 Chevy was only made in the 1957 model year, no matter how great it's design was, or how long folks would have happily bought that style. The notion of style changing each year is a hugely western, and definitely American concept. Everything in our culture is disposable, including design. Heaven forbid good design get in the way of obsolescence...

    Some designs, to my way of looking at it, especially in industrial design... just hit the nail perfectly, and are not easily improved upon just for the sake of looking different. Bicycle chain comes to mind. Stairs. Accelerator pedals. Tractor-trailer rigs. Airport runways. Dress shirts. Ballpoint pens. Scissors. SLR cameras. Speakers. Airplane propellers. Western saddles. Shopping carts. Blue jeans. White crew socks. T-shirts. etc... If the function can't improve, or the handling can't improve, or the durability or strength can't improve, or the efficiency can't improve... then cosmetic change for its own sake is pointless. Except where a fashion statement is the main point, like the t-shirt example. The shirt remains timeless, but the imprinted design or message can change day to day.

    Anyway, I can't wait to see what's next up Apple's sleeve.
     
  6. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #6
    Great posts folks. Nice to see some honest opinion, as opposed to the old jaded hatred we are starting to see more of. And for the record, I didn't forget the classic Powerbook models, the context was simply the metal encased models of recent times. ;)

    In my experience, I relate the new MacBook and MacBook pro lineup to that of BMW. (hold your comments for a second here). BMW went through quite extreme transition with regards to their vehicle designs in recent years. Many long standing customers were actually offended by the vast changes of apperance, mostly related to a new designer taking the reigns of the company.

    I myself reacted badly to some of the models, however, when I took the time to get behind the wheel my opinion changed dramatically. While the cars lost some of their classic European design, the driving experience was still true BMW. You could still throw them into the corners hard, they still had a great soundtrack (talking engine note here), and still stopped as quickly as you needed to. In other words, the performance was still there, and in some models, surpassed their predecessors.

    I think Apple did similar with the new MacBook models, and fully agree that they may have left some behind on some features, and with design. Regardless of that, the experience when using these new machines has been fully Macintosh for many of us, and offer us the same great OS X experience, and (as more testing has shown) a bit more power under the hood.

    With regards to Revision (A) woes, this really isn't a new thing for Apple. Powerbook 5300cs, Powerbook G3, Powerbook G4 Titanium were not problem free when they came out, with some having odd glitches throughout their entire product run. There are other examples of this, but don't feel that your problem system is an indication of something "new", that too has sadly been a part of Apple's new system release for a long time now. :(

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Kosh66 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I'm not sure what the point of the article is. What "drastic" design change are you talking about? The Macbooks haven't changed that much in design, except for maybe being a little thinner and getting a tapered look.

    They're pretty much the same design on the outside. They're still metal, still have a touchpad, speakers on the side, not much as changed. except for a black border and the tapered edges.

    Sure the manufacturing process may be new.
     
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #8
    I think it's a fair analogy... BMW took a risk with giving Bangle free reign. The first 7 series design he put out was tough to swallow. I really rather like some things that have come since then -- particularly the five series. I think it was the right thing for BMW to do, even though the pre-Bangle Bimmers had perfected a certain kind of elegant minimalism (that is still emulated and sought after by, e.g. ... Honda).

    I think the same could be said of Cadillac's very interesting design direction in the past decade -- what started with the Evoq and appeared as the first CTS was refined for the production roadster, refined again for the STS and that truck they make, and then most recently refined yet again for the second generation CTS (which I think is quite pretty).

    I think, again, this is a good choice. In comparison, say, is Volkswagen. I think the previous generation Jetta, in particular, was another great example of a minimalistic design concept taken all the way to its emotive conclusion. But now, although I like the way the new Jetta looks overall, or at least can tolerate it (I want one), I don't think it shows a clear design philosophy. Rather, it shows a mishmash of concepts, and if VW keeps expanding on that mishmash, I don't think they're going to keep making cars that are as pretty as theirs have traditionally been.

    I think Apple, like BMW and Cadillac, did set a direction, but they haven't perfected it yet. I don't see their designs right now as being as much of a mishmash as I see VW right now.

    I think, as long as Apple continues to refine this design direction, it's fine -- I don't think the current designs are glorious or perfect, but I do think they have potential. To continue the analogy with BMW, however, Apple, having set a conceptual direction, has to refine these designs more quickly (just as BMW tweaked their formula a number of times to make Bangle's vision look right in sheet metal).
     
  9. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    My first computer was a Mac Classic.... and I hate the new design.

    I don't really get the point of this post.
     
  10. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

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    #10
    I think the longevity of the Aluminum powerbooks/MBPs is really just testimony that they are one of the best-looking, best-designed notebooks ever made.
     
  11. vkt macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Fantastic thread. I am really pleased to see others who are probing for deeper thinking on this subject of new design. Because in all honesty this is an issue than spans so much farther than laptops or even Apple. We must not fear change because life itself is a perpetual flow of change. What may seem like a bad idea, or a poor design right now might only seem that way because we are basing that opinion on an old foundation. Think about that.

    Peace <3 :apple:
     
  12. zer0tails macrumors 65816

    zer0tails

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    #12
    I actually think the new designs are more "retro" like the old tibook than new.

    The previous all silver MBPs were more futuristic. So Apple is actually going back to the past to find inspiration for their new designs.

    the white iMac, and macbook are all iconic Apple.
     
  13. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #13
    I agree, I don't understand of your post.

    The point of this thread is described in the first portion of my initial post. In short it is a stream of thoughts mostly. I am sorry if you don't like it, but thanks for reading and appreciate the continued feedback.

    840
     
  14. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #14
  15. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #15
    Speaking strictly about design - on an aesthetic level..

    I agree on the BMW/Bangle story - at first his design departures were too soft, too rounded... soft shouldered perhaps, and were hard to accept, but the later designs coming from BMW have improved quite a bit. The only issue, as far as I see it, is that we see many of the car designers hitting the same basic themes, and now Hyundai cars can at a glance sometimes look like Beemers. Hondas look like Toyotas. Volvos look like Hondas. And so on.

    As this relates to computers, particularly laptops, Apple has now adopted a number of aspects/features or style cues from other mainstream products, while doing it in their own way. The solid, milled case is unique. The glass covered screen is unique. But... metal and black and chicklet keys and glossy aren't unique, but more of a nod to existing styles that seem to be in favor with consumers these days, not only in the laptop world, but many consumer devices. When you remove the :apple: badge, will it be instantly recognizable... as the old Beemers were, or the old MBP models were, or the white iMacs were,...or do their designs begin to merge into the sea of lookalikes? What is the identity of the brand, and how much of that identity is tied closely to it's style and appearance? That's always been a big separator for Apple, which made their products quite unique. But... they also were fairly niche players. Once you go mainstream, you are the norm and lose much of the unique claim, especially when taking apparent design cues from other manufacturers who are now in the position of trying to distinguish themselves from the leader. There is an interesting irony there, somewhere.
     
  16. zer0tails macrumors 65816

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    #16
    to the OP: i'm interested to know where you see the macbook air fitting into the whole line up design wise?
     
  17. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    #17
    Well, the poll asks when we "switched". I've switched in the past month! What I was getting at earlier was that I've used Macs since grade school, even though my primary computers were always PC's.

    For the record, Leopard gets more awesome every day and I already have the apple sticker on my car!
     
  18. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

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    #18
    I keep hearing this refrain about some old-school Mac fans "fearing change," which completely misses the point of the most common criticism: the new designs aren't different enough. The Apple aesthetic is no longer distinct. When Apple came out with their line of transparent, colorful CRT iMacs, the design world scrambled to imitate it. Everything from wristwatches to calculators to kitchen appliances were coming out in cases that exposed their innards through some brightly colored plastic. In that regard, Apple's aesthetic defined that era.

    Now the product of the day is the iPhone; it's the new bread winner for Apple, and they want everything else to identify with it. However, the problem here is that what is no doubt an innovate aesthetic for a phone simply hasn't traveled well to the laptop line. Instead of ending up with something distinctive, Apple has ended up with a derivative, PC-like aesthetic. (And what's worse, they sacrificed usability in the process by making their screens so reflective--beyond what "glossy" had ever been before.)

    As you'll recall, in the era of the transparent CRT iMacs, Apple found complementary but distinct solutions for the pro line. They didn't just make the pro machines into carbon copies of the iMacs. Nobody could have predicted the G4 pro designs after looking at the iMacs, but plenty of people predicted the look of the current laptop line merely by making knock-offs of the current iMacs. That's a sign that Apple's designers have become complacent.

    So instead of getting a pro design that is both consistent and distinct, we got one that is imitative and predictable. That's not true "change."
     
  19. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #19
    Great constructive ideas and differences in opinion. Really nice to hear from both sides!

    Don't be shy post up your own thoughts!

    840
     
  20. applefan1997 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I also like the design of the past Macs. In the past, they would start striking designs, and create new ones after most PC's had copied them. The new iMacs seem to have taken the black glossy look that HP and Sony have. The original and G4 iMacs were amazing designs that I don't think have been bettered. The PowerBook G3 was also quite beautiful in it's day, and these Macs are all still like that. The original PB G4 had a sort of clashed look with the black keyboard and white ring. I guess one can argue that being beige was like copying in a sense though.
     

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