Originally Posted by Jbach67
I admit my ignorance of the biases of all ZD Net bloggers, though I don't see how this particular article serves MS, as he basically bashes their execution of touch technology.
Well don't worry, having been a Windows user myself until around three years ago, my tech sources have changed vastly.
A good portion of the internet tech media is more misinformed or simply hungry for the web traffic (which translates into ad revenue) sensationalist, and generally shallow tech articles get them than it is simply anti-Apple.
Apple is the golden child of the tech industry right now, so places like CNET (and the rest of the ZDNET sites), Joystiq, Gizmodo, Endgadget, ExtremeTech, etc. know they can make a lot of money by slandering them. If you're familiar with Greenpeace, which is one of the numerous groups masquerading as the Eco Police, they have consistently put Apple at the bottom of their list of eco-friendly computer companies while putting Dell and HP (the top two vendors that sell a ton of ewaste PCs) at the top. They recently started ranking game consoles and who did they put at the bottom there? Why, Nintendo's outstandingly popular Wii, of course. Do they have any real data to back up their claims? No, these are profiteers. Why am I telling you this? Because, if you plan on moving to a Mac, prepare to hear all the myths and scare tactics.
ZDNet is probably the worst of all of them. Here, they are arguing for Apple to put out a touch tablet BECAUSE they know they would fail in the market like all the other tablets PCs and UMPCs Bill Gates has put out on the market.
They've pushed similarly illogical notions, like the idea that Apple should license out their OS to third party hardware vendors. This would result in cannibalization if it were actually possible and legal to bundle Apple's OS with third party vendors as Microsoft has done with Windows through anti-competitive, anti-consumer exclusive OEM deals. Many sites just recycle each other's similar requests of Apple because they don't know any better. ZDNet, though, knows exactly what it's doing.
Originally Posted by Jbach67
Parenthetically, I can't tell you why they launched the over priced and underfunctioned MacBook Air at all - other than to show they could make a beautiful piece of technology. Does it undercut the MacBook and MBPro? If it is selling well, more power to them.
A lot of people were baffled by the MacBook Air. Most of the tech media will have you believe it is as you described: a crazy, overpriced, underpowered, disc-drive and ethernet-port lacking toy from Apple. They've compared it to sub-notebooks, like the EeePC and Sony's micro 10" laptops.
In reality, the MacBook Air is not a $600 tiny sub-notebook, but a very competitive ultra-light laptop. Click HERE
to see a chart comparing competitors in this market to the Air. It's small size is a feature - that's why it comes at a premium. It uses much smaller components that don't benefit from the economies of scale of average-sized laptops.
It sports a 13" display, a full-size keyboard, and a unique Multi-Touch trackpad that extends the intuitive gestures found in their immensely popular iPod touch/iPhone WiFi mobile devices. It uses 802.11n, which can rival 10/100 ethernet, believe it or not. It drops an internal disc drive because CDs have been dying for years thanks to P2P, mp3 players like the iPod, and online music stores like iTunes, which became the #1 music seller in the U.S. (if not the world) ahead of Wal-mart and Best Buy brick-and-mortar stores. DVDs are still widely used, but few people actually watch them on their computer - most people have dedicated DVD players and/or game consoles that play DVDs. There are very few programs that require install discs - many are downloadable online - and those that do can use Remote Disc, which allows the MacBook Air to wirelessly access any nearby computer's disc drive and install them wirelessly. There's no removable battery because...few people ever actually replace their laptop batteries, let alone the people Apple is marketing the Air to.
See, the MacBook Air is not only appealing to business execs on the road and journalists, but the average computer user in terms of power and features. Remember, the average computer user mainly listens to music, emails, uses an IM client, and browses the internet. None of those tasks require a super-fast computer, nor do they really benefit from the power of say, a top of the line Mac Pro. Sure, applications will start faster on them, but thanks to Mac OS X's aggressive caching of data, after initial start up, applications only take a few seconds to re-launch if the user quits them.
AppleInsider did a side-by-side video comparison of the hard drive sporting Air vs. the solid state model, which demonstrates this caching ability very well. Go HERE
, then scroll down and watch the second of the three videos on the page, which shows them starting like 30 applications simultaneously. You'll notice the SSD model wins pretty handily in that video. But then scroll down to the third video and watch how fast the apps starts up after having already been opened once before.
So, the Air is really a premium notebook for the average consumer who values weight and size over unnecessary horsepower. It's priced out of the budget-conscious consumers that don't mind more bulk if it saves them money - the MacBook buyers. At the same time, it's a few hundred less than the much larger and more powerful MacBook Pro line, which is geared towards professional photographers, music mixers, or serious gamers who need power more than portability. It's been pretty popular. Have to see how it did against the rest of Apple's laptop lineup after their yearly Back To School sale - buy a Mac, get a free iPod.
Originally Posted by Jbach67
I appreciate the argument in your second paragraph, but I don't envision a touchscreen tablet that would in any way obsolete the MB/pro lines. I agree it that to be successful, it would have to be lower cost and therefore lower power than the flagships (I think I mentioned the Atom chip) but have a form factor (thinner than Kindle) that would make it more portable than the MB's (may excluding the Air), have GPS and DVD, and I would advocate a dual stylus (for taking hand written notes and drawing) and multi-touch mode.
Originally Posted by Jbach67
If it launched with a new MacBook store a la Amazon, and they made deals with major college textbook companies, you could carry around all of your texts in one hand, or if not a student, a bunch of whatever you want to read. A lot of people have tried to get people to switch from paper books to electrons without success. Kindle suggests that at the right price, ease of use, and size, there is a potential market. If you think of it as a souped up book reader/gps with lots of extra benefits, I think it might go. You'd still need a 'real' computer, laptop or desk top.
In any event, I see that people have been bringing this apple chimera up for some years now and so far nothing has materialized. The question is when some killer app and/or technology app would make the idea attractive. Is that time soon or years away - I don't know. I just don't think it's a complete non-starter. There is a sweet spot for book reading between the too small Touch/iphone and the too pricy MB/Air/Pro.
So what you're really suggesting is more of an eBook reader that can play DVDs, allow digital note-taking/annotation of text/doodling, and (for whatever reason) GPS.
It wouldn't even need to be a full-fledged computer. That's fairly different from what ZDNet is proposing, which is a complete computer inside a large enclosure, with a touch screen on top. That should sound familiar. Heard or seen Microsoft's Surface computer? It's the same thing, only they want Apple to make it more portable than Microsoft's tub computer that uses mirrors and projectors to create a faux touchscreen kiosk....that costs $10k.
You're idea of a "Kindle killer"/digital art/ is more realistic, but it's quite a niche market mainly because of the reasons you state: price (both in terms of eBook - a la carte vs subscription perhaps - and especially, the cost of the device itself), ease-of-use, and of course, form factor. The last two could easily be handled by Apple. It's all about price of eBooks and namely, the tablet itself. Even if eBooks were half the price of real books, you still have to get people to take the initial plunge of spending $400 or more for...a book. Would I buy one if the eBook selection and eBook price were good? Hell yeah!
It's very similar to the Apple TV, which hasn't taken off because while it offers quite a bit more than what a cable box can, the initial cost is not hidden in some subscription fee. People have to be willing to pay that darn upfront cost!
Then Apple's gotta worry about what eBook format to go with. I don't doubt we'll be reading and writing on touch-screen tablets in the future, but right now, it just doesn't seem feasible. It'd be an entirely new product, even if Apple labeled it MacBook touch. Also, they just released some WiFi mobile devices last year that they completely want to avoid cannibalizing: the iPod touch and iPhone. If people saw a Mac touch tablet, which would really need to be priced in the $400-$600 range to get any major sales, they could (and would) buy it instead of an iPod touch or iPhone. Until Apple can get iPod touch prices down to $100-$200, which ain't happening any time soon as they continue to ramp up flash capacities for them, such a product doesn't seem viable.
But in 4-7 years, a TouchBook seems quite possible. That may not sound like a lot of time to many here, but I don't doubt the speed at which the tech industry is moving and Apple is already years ahead of the competition in many areas, and with their recent acquisition of PA Semi and the announcement of an Intel-optimized version of Mac OS X coming in about a year - Snow Leopard, that gap is going to widen in ridiculous ways no other company can match in either hardware or software, let alone both.