Originally Posted by solipsism
There are 20 pages of examples of Apple removing one technology and replacing it with a less usable one. FW400 wasn't even close to the first, and I'm sure it won't be the be last. They don't change their casing mid stream, so the ports you have now are what you'll have for the next 3 years.
I'm happy you brought up the port thingie.
I've been giving this some thought, and what I've come up with could be good news.
As we all know, Apple sticks to a particular case design for a long time. I suppose there could be two reasons for that.
The first is that, except for the old 8x00 and 9x00 series machines, Apple's cases have been quite good. Better than that found in the PC industry. No reason to change from a superior design unless you have a better one.
Two is the cost and time factor in designing and manufacturing new cases. It's very expensive to do this.
The reason why is simple. Other than the design process itself, there is the way it's manufactured. And that's the big problem!
All cases are manufactured using several techniques. For the metal parts there is stamping sheet metal. That's not a biggie, and is really cheap to do. But in order to do that, dies must be designed and manufactured for the stampers. Those can cost $250,000 for large versions. Several must be used for different parts of the case, costing different amounts, and it's possible that several may be needed for several stampers. Dies must also be designed and manufactured for the presses to form the metal. Same thing about costs there. Then for portables, has been the precision castings for the interior supports the boards are mounted on. In addition to the design of those, molds must also be designed and tested.
For plastic parts, injection molds must also be designed and manufactured.
This is a costly and time consuming process all around. It can take months.
If a small change, such as a new port, or an adjustment to an opening must be made, either new dies, or molds, or castings, must again be designed and manufactured. That's in addition to the new mobo (which, being electronics is much easier, and cheaper, to do).
Very expensive to make a minor change.
But, now that Apple is machining its laptop cases, things are vastly different!
While it does cost more to manufacture these cases (at least in the beginning), there are many advantages to it.
The main ones we already know. The strength, the simplicity, the ability Apple now has to arrange the interior the way it wants to without having to worry about internal bracing, etc.
But, to me, just as important is the flexibility Apple has gained.
By machining each case (at least the bottom, and most important part), Apple has the ability to make changes on a daily basis (almost). If a redesign in the case is needed, the design can be made, the "G" code written up and downloaded to ONE machine. Then a slab of machinable wax is put into the vise setup and machined. If nothing is wrong, then a billet of Al is inserted, and a case is made.
The design time for the case now takes far longer than getting a real Al sample. No longer do handmade models need to be produced before tooling is manufactured.
If all is needed is a hole for a new port, or an adjusted size hole is needed, it can be designed in the morning (it's a very small detail), the "G" code can be written in the afternoon (again, a small detail), and the next day both the wax, and then the Al case comes back to the design lab.
If all is well, the new codes can be downloaded to all the mills, and the new design can be executed the next day.
Truly revolutionary, just as Jobs said.
No one else, as far as we know is doing this for computer cases.