Much as Clint did in a recent post, I also have cause to briefly revisit a previous post of mine, written when Apple released its rejiggered MacBook Air. I made some predictions then about how the computer business may pan out down the line, and last week, Apple made some moves that, if not completely fulfilling these prophesies, were strong steps in those directions.
The impetus for all of this was Apple’s upgrade to a lot of their product line. The Airs and Minis got faster processors, and version 10.7 of their OS was released. But looking into the products a bit further shows how Apple is pushing forward with the design changes they began late last year. Let’s break this down (shamelessly cribbing the format from Clint’s post all the while):
#1 – Welcome to the New Consumer Laptop
Some blogs were dumbfounded by the announcement that wasn’t made during the product announcements: that the vanilla MacBook, that ubiquitous white polycarbonate notebook that has existed in some incarnation for nigh upon a decade, was gone. No more. Blah blah choir invisible. You go to the Apple Store, it’s not there. Huh?
Part of this is due to two simple things: the MacBook Air with an (at this point) better processor starting at $999, and the MacBook Pro with a DVD drive (more on that later) and bigger hard drive for only $200 more. Suddenly, the VanillaBook seemed oddly out of place. Of course, they could’ve dropped the price a Benjamin or two and kept it on, but sadly, Apple don’t play that game. Instead, they’ve clearly made the Air the new entry-point computer. And what did I say earlier?
But I think consumer-level laptops will go in this direction. The average user doesn’t need to upgrade the hard drive or RAM, and will probably rarely use the optical drive, if ever. If you can accept that, why not get it in a 2 lb package?
I know this wasn’t the most daring prediction ever, but I thought this would be a two or three-year plan, not ten months. I still think the entry-level hard drive is a bit small for comfort, but I guarantee you next year, the new refresh next year will double it, and that concern will be gone. Besides, with Apple, along with every tech giant, pushing cloud-storage solutions, physical hard drive space is becoming incrementally less important.
#2 – I Still Have All These AOL CDs!
As I stated before, the lack of DVD drive in the Air was a stake in the ground by being a nail in the coffin of optical discs. With Apple offering music and movies through iTunes downloads, the need for discs was diminishing. Obviously, the new Airs had no DVD drive, but the surprising move was removing it from the Mini as well.
They offered this version before as a mini-server edition, but the new base model is now slotless as well. This is a further development of their “no-discs” policy, as they move not only music and movie sales online, but software as well (more on that later).
The MacBook Pro, as well as the iMac and Mac Pro desktops, still have the disc drive, and may have them for a while yet. Or not. Professional users may still need a DVD drive for their work, but who knows how long that may continue on. And Apple’s pissed on professionals’ needs before. But for now, Apple is acknowledging that average consumers just aren’t using DVDs anymore, what with USB drives and online transfers.
The point is: if you’re using DVDs as transfer tools, you’re just not hip anymore. Turn in your lensless frames and The National albums.
#3 – Double-Click to Install
It may not be soon, but give it a couple of years: either applications will be download-only, or you’ll open the box and get a 4GB flash drive with the program on it.
Again, not the most daring prediction, but Apple pushed online distribution in a big way when they opened their Mac App Store, modeled after their iTunes App Store. All of their iLife and iWork apps were offered, as well as a shitload of third-party programs, often at much lower prices than purchased elsewhere. Then Apple dropped its biggest bombshell: OS X 10.7 Insert Big Cat Name Here would be download-only for $30.
Now, they have thrown a bone to those for whom the internet isn’t the best route: they will sell it on a flash drive for $70 next month. But selling a major OS upgrade for less than half price online means that, pretty soon, you probably won’t even get a flash drive option.
I don’t wanna say I am Nostradamus, but I can understand the immense pride he felt when he predicted all that stuff correctly. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna predict me some lottery numbers.
1 2 3 4 5 6 – that works, right? I’ll start buying those mansions now.