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Apple to re-enter the sub-notebook market

post #1 of 249
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A tiny sub-notebook on its way from Apple Inc. is expected to re-establish the Mac maker as a leader in the field of compact computing while drawing parallels to the legendary PowerBook 2400 along the way.

It's been nearly ten years since the Cupertino-based company dabbled in the realm of sub-notebooks, but for a stint of several years in the early-to-mid '90s, its PowerBook series help set the benchmark for ultraportable computing as we see it today.

By introducing the PowerBook 100 in October of 1991, Apple pioneered innovations that are now de facto standards on all notebook systems, such as the rear placement of the keyboard, a palm rest for users to place their hands, and the inclusion of the trackball (which eventually gave way to the trackpad).

A year later, the PowerBook Duo was born. Extremely thin and lightweight for its time, the Duo was arguably one of the first true sub-notebooks for the masses. It packed a bare minimum of features, otherwise relying on a docking station for extra video memory, storage space, connectors, and connectivity to external displays.

But as the late '90s rolled around, the Duo had run its course and Apple as a whole appeared to have misplaced its focus on the sub-notebook market. At one point, it seemed the company was churning out new compact designs simply to discontinue them; the PowerBook 2400, one of the most adored Macintosh computers ever developed, didn't even last a year. It was overpriced, under-advertised and subsequently put to rest in March of 1998 -- just ten months removed from its debut.

Although a revision to the PowerBook 2400 remained available for a little while longer in the Japanese market, for which it was partially conceived, it would never see a successor. It was around this time that Steve Jobs took back the helm at Apple. And while it would be unfair to say Jobs did not appreciate the innovations in the ultra portable space that preceded his return, Apple was in a dire state. There were bigger fish to fry, so to speak, and he likely saw little urgency in 'fixing' the company's sub-notebook troubles. Therefore, he shelved them.

So it's almost uncanny that Jobs, nearly ten years from the day the PowerBook 2400 first saw light, will revitalize Apple's footprint in the sub-notebook sector with a petite MacBook that promises to be everything a modern day 2400 should be, and much, much more. (Ironically, it also took the company nearly a decade to introduce a notebook that was more compact than the original PowerBook 100. The Titanium PowerBook G4 introduced in 2001 measured 127 cubic inches compared to the PowerBook 100's 168.)

The Apple PowerBook 2400 with its external floppy drive.

This new tiny MacBook, people familiar with the project say, remains in development ahead of its target launch date around the time WWDC rolls around mid-year. It will be both lighter and more compact than any other Mac portable Apple has put forth in recent years, bundling a display of similarly smaller proportions.

Also setting the new model aside from its existing counterparts, those same people say, may be the conspicuous absence of an optical disc drive. Although Apple's original plans for the notebook called for its inclusion, reports are that the daunting ergonomics have recently driven company engineers to make a concession, forming yet another parallel between the new notebook and the defunct PowerBook 2400.

At the same time, the new MacBook model is expected to introduce some features not yet available with Apple's existing notebook offerings, such as onboard NAND flash. Plans reportedly call for the notebook to be the first of the company's MacBook offerings to utilize the solid-state memory in order to improve power efficiency and facilitate near instantaneous boot times. This feature, however, had not been frozen upon last check.

For Apple, the pint-sized MacBook should do more than just fill a niche in its notebook arsenal. In fact, management is hoping the new model will strike a chord in Japan, where consumers have a near-fetish for compact, cutting edge electronics. Hopes are also that the system plays its part to offset some of the declines adversely affecting the region's home computing market.



Apple's performance in the Japanese sector, despite being on par with industry-wide trends, has been an undeniable sore spot as of late. Sales of Macs were down some 14 percent year-over-year for the company's first fiscal quarter of 2007 ended December. Revenues in the region slipped even further, down 20 percent.

"The market in Japan is among the weakest in the world," Apple's second in command, Tim Cook, told analysts during a recent company conference call. "However, having said that, we're not pleased with our performance there and we've got a number of activities underway to attempt to improve them."

As a first order of business, Apple got cracking on localized versions of its "Get a Mac" television ads, which were warmly received by both Japanese consumers and the local media. And while those spots are helping to restore the Mac in the nation's public consciousness, it'll be the MacBook mini that truly gets the ball rolling in Japan once again.
post #2 of 249
Oh, happy days!




I am just too happy to read this.

Yes.

Bring it on!

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

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post #3 of 249
Let the games begin:

This machie has to out-perform the new Vaio from Sony which has a slip-down keypad, flash drive, and Vista built in. It has an option for a HD which is 800 cheaper than the flash, but uses more battery power, etc.

It needs to have ease of use and also be able to drive an external monitor or projector. It shoud also have a remote control so that it can be used easily during presentations.

Personally, as I have large hands, I hope it will have a split keyboard that will twist out to adapt to large-handed people. Thanks in advance, Steve.

Oh, God. I am too happy about this. Just last night I started thinking about putting money aside for a new computer (my current PB is nearly 3 years old and beginning to show it).

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #4 of 249
Very cool! It will probably have an LED-backlit screen, too!
post #5 of 249
And to all those no-sayers that said Apple would never consider making a sub-notebook: hope your credit cards are paidup full, because I bet you will want one of these, too.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #6 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Oh, happy days!




I am just too happy to read this.

Yes.

Bring it on!

Yea, me too! Appleinsider is the bomb lately when it comes to nailing this stuff with clarity. I dunno about this rosey outlook for Japan tho. Yes, yes, i know the japanese were 2400 crazy ... blah blah blah
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post #7 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

And to all those no-sayers that said Apple would never consider making a sub-notebook: hope your credit cards are paidup full, because I bet you will want one of these, too.

Yes, i agree with both of you. There is no where else for apple to go. please, if you think people want a 20 inch macbook over a subMacbook you been on the cheeba too long. I also agree that this will probably happen because there is no reasons for doubting this. ai has been right on, brotha!

AS
post #8 of 249
Very cool news! When Apple announces products (not that this is quite a product announcement yet), it's so hard to remind myself that I really don't need a new computer. But it is good to know that I'll have the choices I want when I do need to replace my current notebook. I was starting to come to terms with the idea that I'd have to live with the 13.3" Macbook, but this changes everything for me!

And hearing that they are thinking of leaving out the optical drive is just great! I think that I've used my optical drive only a handful of times away from home in the three years I've had my notebook: an external drive is a far better option.

And if they also encorporate flash memory into the notebook, even better! Open it up, and start typing!

I wonder what size it'll be? If it's an 11" widescreen, then it will be as wide as the 12" ibook (though shorter), so you'd be able to have a full keyboard. I'm going to guess that this is as small as Apple will go: and it sounds great to me!
post #9 of 249
YES! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

What? Whatever makes you think I want one?

The possibility of a subnotebook has be discussed in the forum for ages now. Amazingly, after this article, people who never participated in those older threads say they want one. So much for the naysayers who kept writing "Apple will never do it. The 12" Powerbook sold terribly." Wrong on both counts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton View Post

And hearing that they are thinking of leaving out the optical drive is just great! I think that I've used my optical drive only a handful of times away from home in the three years I've had my notebook: an external drive is a far better option.

People including myself have written this over and over. And I definitely don't need a Superdrive in my laptop. I've never needed to burn a DVD on the go, although I burn tons on my PowerMac.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton View Post

And if they also encorporate flash memory into the notebook, even better! Open it up, and start typing!

I can do that already. Sleep mode works fine and it wakes in about five seconds.
post #10 of 249
I'll believe it when I see it.

...or hear a lot more reports about it.

I mean c'mon... Shaw Wu hasn't even touched this one.

-Clive
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post #11 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

And to all those no-sayers that said Apple would never consider making a sub-notebook: hope your credit cards are paidup full, because I bet you will want one of these, too.

It's not a real product, so keep your wallets in their pockets for the time being.

We've heard rumors about new product lines for ages, and few of them show up.

If this did, I would really be interested, because I don't need a notebook, but if it were small, and light enough, it would be different.

But, I'm still waiting for the newest revision of the Mac Pro. Where are you?
post #12 of 249
What if:

Dual screen, with the second screen serving as a dual touch input interface that can be programmable?

iPhone has it... Why not?


Man, I am dreaming already.

and drooling

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #13 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Personally, as I have large hands, I hope it will have a split keyboard that will twist out to adapt to large-handed people. Thanks in advance, Steve.

This really doesn't seem like an "Apple" design. As I said in my previous post, I would guess that if Apple does the sub-notebook, it'll be based on an 11" widescreen, which will be as wide as the 12" ibook (though, shorter) and will allow them to use the same size keyboard as in the ibook.
post #14 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton View Post

This really doesn't seem like an "Apple" design. As I said in my previous post, I would guess that if Apple does the sub-notebook, it'll be based on an 11" widescreen, which will be as wide as the 12" ibook (though, shorter) and will allow them to use the same size keyboard as in the ibook.

You noticed I was joking?

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #15 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

I can do that already. Sleep mode works fine and it wakes in about five seconds.

But sleep mode wastes the battery, no matter by how little. It makes me wonder by how much, though. Here's a good test: charge your notebook fully, put it to sleep and then unplug it. Come back in 24 hours and see what charge remains. Maybe I'll do that tonight.
post #16 of 249
OK, everyone: get those engines roaring and fire up your SketchUp and Photoshop apps. We need some models floating asap.

I wonder if there would be 2 possibilities: the aforementioned 11" or possibly one smaller, about the size of a DVD case.

Yes, there are ideas about Apple design, but I think Apple design took a big change for the bettter with the iPhone, so we are in a free zone here.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #17 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

You noticed I was joking?

Nope, you were too subtle for me!
post #18 of 249
I fall in the camp that believes Apple must increase it's range: 15.4 MacBook, MacBook with a dedicated graphics card, and yes, a smaller MacBook/Pro. Not that I believe in following others, but the PC world offers consumer laptops with 15 and 17" screens, at MacBook prices.

I do not know the economics involved of such a stretching of the range, but it can't be that negative.... And don't get me started on the MacMidi (you know, graphics card, integrated power supply, normal size HD drive... ok call it the Cube2...).
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post #19 of 249
First round of specs:

LED screen
double-touch screen/keyboard

30GB flash drive
1 Gb RAM

Blue tooth

2 USB2 ports
mini-DVI

iSight

very compact power brick PLEASE

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #20 of 249
Quote:
Not that I believe in following others, but the PC world offers consumer laptops with 15 and 17" screens, at MacBook prices.

That's because they all use Windows. So they have to figure out ways to differentiate from each other based on specs and price. Apple isn't under the same pressure.

Quote:
I do not know the economics involved of such a stretching of the range, but it can't be that negative....

Dell holds around 15% of the world PC market, while Apple holds about 2.5% of the world PC market. Out of the billions of dollars Dell generates in revenue, they only generate around 30 to 40 million more in real profit than Apple.
post #21 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Let the games begin:

This machie has to out-perform the new Vaio from Sony which has a slip-down keypad, flash drive, and Vista built in. It has an option for a HD which is 800 cheaper than the flash, but uses more battery power, etc.

It needs to have ease of use and also be able to drive an external monitor or projector. It shoud also have a remote control so that it can be used easily during presentations.

Personally, as I have large hands, I hope it will have a split keyboard that will twist out to adapt to large-handed people. Thanks in advance, Steve.

Oh, God. I am too happy about this. Just last night I started thinking about putting money aside for a new computer (my current PB is nearly 3 years old and beginning to show it).

I really hope this isn't going to be like Sony's UX (which I believe you're referring to). In theory I think it's an awesome gadget, but in practice the screen is just too small, and the keyboard is practically useless for any extended typing. It is a neat "wow, look how small it is" gadget, but for what it ends up being useful for, it doesn't end up being much more useable than a PDA.

I'd much rather Apple do something more analagous to Sony's TX or G series. Very thin and lightweight, but still somewhat useable as an actual computer.
post #22 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Dell holds around 15% of the world PC market, while Apple holds about 2.5% of the world PC market. Out of the billions of dollars Dell generates in revenue, they only generate around 30 to 40 million more in real profit than Apple.

I don't think that stretching the product line would result in less profit.

Dell is selling $500, and lesser products. Apple would simply charge more for the larger screen.

While it might bite slightly into the low end MBP, it would likely generate much more in sales that they would lose.

This has a twofold benefit for Apple. The first is that more machines would be sold. The second it that it generates a larger base for Apple's software. More retail OS sales, etc. That spreads the cost of the software development, and leads to much greater profitability for the software division, as software is not subject to the same manufacturing rules that hardware is.
post #23 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by zadillo View Post

I really hope this isn't going to be like Sony's UX (which I believe you're referring to). In theory I think it's an awesome gadget, but in practice the screen is just too small, and the keyboard is practically useless for any extended typing. It is a neat "wow, look how small it is" gadget, but for what it ends up being useful for, it doesn't end up being much more useable than a PDA.

I'd much rather Apple do something more analagous to Sony's TX or G series. Very thin and lightweight, but still somewhat useable as an actual computer.

I can't agree with that one. Very few people have such large hands that typing on these machines is difficult. They are vastly better than a PDA.
post #24 of 249
C'mon, a small keyboard should be fine for even big fingered types, especially if Apple has innovated smarter keys ('a la iPhone software) that take out obvious errors! Also no one should expect to type War and Peace on these things ... they are for travel and ubermobility!

escher ... where is escher!

I personally see this as more of a small aluminum macbookpro rather than a macbook - so that the extra costs for flash memory make more sense.
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post #25 of 249
zadillo:

Yes, and no. The models you suggest are selling very briskly here in Japan, but so are the mini-mini Windows computers, hence the U series. The local shop has pre-orders numbering over 200, and I live in a rather local town; can only imagine what the orders are like up in the big cities.

I have used Clies for the past several years (PEG-UX50) and find the keyboard very easy to use; indeed, I typed 90% of 5 text books on one, including what turned into 7 hours of recorded listening material; I have the big hands that make typing on a normal Apple keyboard a real pain. The UX50's screen is a little too small- but it was aimed as a PDA, but I still think the new U series is the right item at the right time.

Both sizes have merit. The thumb-board type is usable standing on a train during rushhour, which makes it very appealing to millions of young, eager Japanese businessmen.

MacGregor:

if Apple is even considering flash-based memory, this has to be aimed at a high-end market as you are looking at 800 bucks for the flash memory deck.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #26 of 249
BTW:

Welcome to AI, zadillo!

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #27 of 249
I miss my 2400 - please let this be real...
post #28 of 249
vaio sz still lighter than any macbook or pro.
in fact. there's alot of notebook out there are slimmer and lighter than macbookz..
i think apple still didn't do well enuff for notebook.
post #29 of 249
Good news. Roll it, Apple. I'll buy in a heartbeat.
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post #30 of 249
>As a first order of business, Apple got cracking on localized versions of its "Get a Mac" television ads, which were warmly received by both Japanese consumers and the local media.

. No way.
In Japanese culture, which puts emphasis on the humbleness, advertisements that critisize or attack their opposites are not welcomed.
In Japan, even political parties avoid such TV ads during campaigns!

Really, some Japanese hate the Get a Mac ads, and Apple is being laughed at, not because the CM is funny, but because the company does not notice such ads are not effective, or can result in an adverse result here.

I hope Apple notice soon that "localization" shall include more than just translation.
post #31 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Dual screen, with the second screen serving as a dual touch input interface that can be programmable?

Isn't that... a Nintendo DS?
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post #32 of 249
This is a little off topic, but you guys can probably stop mentioning in every single article that Apple is based in Cupertino. We don't need the filler; just the news, please. Article's already long enough.
post #33 of 249
Nintendo DS? Not a chance. Have you seen the iPhone? Imagine taking it and making a mini notebook, just adding a larger and dedicated screen. Each app could have a specialized and user-defined keyboard. It could really speed things up. You could, of course, also use the "keyboard" as a screen, and have touch-sensity interactive apps.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #34 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormchild View Post

This is a little off topic, but you guys can probably stop mentioning in every single article that Apple is based in Cupertino. We don't need the filler; just the news, please. Article's already long enough.


A "little" off topic? This belongs in the feedback section.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #35 of 249
imagine the kind of space they would save if they got rid of the dvd drive.
seriously, that has to be the way of the future. with physical medium running dry in hte next 10 years, just imagine how thin and light notebooks would be without that drive a long with the optical already being taken out... geesh just imagine the possibilities
post #36 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

zadillo:

if Apple is even considering flash-based memory, this has to be aimed at a high-end market as you are looking at 800 bucks for the flash memory deck.

I was thinking the same thing. If this rumor is true, I suspect that either flash memory won't be a feature, or the model will be slipped into the Macbook Pro lineup - which would mean an upgrade for the 15" and 17" models to match.

Here's hoping for a screen-integrated iSight.
post #37 of 249
Finally..
The 12" powerbook has been unrivaled for some time now when it comes to compact Apple notebooks. A macbook mini would be most welcome..
post #38 of 249
I said I would be first to order but it looks like several people will beat me to it. So make that I will be in the first 100 to order.

Sign me up Mr. Steve Jobs.

Piss on the CD-Rom; piss on fast processors. Give me a ultra low voltage Core Duo at 1 GHz and call it a day!! I want a 10" widescreen and bring back the little red pointer in the middle of the keyboard for a mouse. I want that 10 hour battery life!

Smaller is better!
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post #39 of 249
my prediction for specs

core 2 duo 1.67ghz

1gb ram

32gb Flash drive (this might be split into two drives like typical Vaio notebooks)

no graphics card

10 inch wide screen

isight

2 USB, 1 FW400 (and maybe slots for memory cards)

Superdrive (probably not the DL)

LED based screen lighting

4 hr practical battery life (probably listed as "upto 7 hrs"

for the price of....$1999.

IT COSTS MORE TO STAY THIN. that's true for human beings as well as gadgets.
post #40 of 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenkaise View Post

>As a first order of business, Apple got cracking on localized versions of its "Get a Mac" television ads, which were warmly received by both Japanese consumers and the local media.

. No way.
In Japanese culture, which puts emphasis on the humbleness, advertisements that critisize or attack their opposites are not welcomed.
In Japan, even political parties avoid such TV ads during campaigns!

Really, some Japanese hate the Get a Mac ads, and Apple is being laughed at, not because the CM is funny, but because the company does not notice such ads are not effective, or can result in an adverse result here.

I hope Apple notice soon that "localization" shall include more than just translation.

They're seen as too arrogant by some here too.
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