Apple (and Tablets) Pointing the Way to a Future We’re Not Quite Ready For

Say what you will about Apple’s new MacBook Air as a device that you can purchase today. What’s more important is that it is pointing towards a future that we’re not quite ready for yet. When I say “we” I mean the technology isn’t ready and neither is the consumer. Steve Jobs made a big point about what a possible “hook up” between the iPad and the MacBook would yield and at the moment that is what Apple is trumpeting as its new MacBook Airs. It sure makes that car and truck analogy of the last keynote look a bit different after today. I think the incremental changes in the MacBook Air point to a longer term strategy that we’re just starting to get a feel for. Keep in mind, most questioned the need for the iPad prior to its release. You can still argue that question is valid to some degree, but a lot of customers I think would disagree.

More importantly,  for the long term though I believe that Apple’s move to blend some of what the iPad offers with the strengths of a notebook is the telling factor. I think many die hard early Tableteers would agree. With the exception of Inking (and I still don’t discount that wholly for the future) the evolution Apple is pushing are some of the things we all used to talk and dream about on the pages of Tablet PC Buzz. Smaller, lighter, less dependent on things like hard drives and cables, and battery life. We all saw that Tablets offered a new paradigm and new that was just a beginning. We all wailed when Microsoft wimped out and when the technology couldn’t match the vision. Quite honestly, and I certainly haven’t had my hand on either of the new Macbook Airs, but I would say that the technology still isn’t quite there yet. That’s evidenced by some of the battery life claims and other complaints I’ve seen about the new Air design. But we’re getting closer and Apple is pushing the envelope further than most in my view.

Jobs recognizes that there is a new paradigm emerging and that the slate form factor is a part of it, but only a part of it. From where I sit he seems to be steering Apple that way, and I find it fascinating that many aren’t catching the bigger vision, instead focusing on what’s here today. The perfect example of this doesn’t come from Apple. It comes instead from the Tablet manufacturers who are going to be pushing slates on the market with an OS that the developer of that OS says isn’t suited for the Tablet/Slate form factor. Jobs and Apple waited until they could make the iPad work, and let’s not forget that not only did they create a device that is hugely popular by any standard, they changed the conversation about some of the mundane but important factors like battery life, instant on, and as it appears more and more likely streaming media.

Don’t get me wrong, Apple still pulls some bonehead moves, and there are still major pieces to be found before the picture gets clear, but I’m sensing more and more that Apple is quickly (and perhaps quietly) putting a bigger vision together for tomorrow, while everyone else is focusing on today. Or is that yesterday?

14 Comments

  1. acerbic

    10/20/2010 at 10:24 pm

    All bow down! St. Steve Jobs invented SSD today! Nobody has done anything like it before! It’s magical and revolutionary!

    Reply

  2. Jonathan Alligood

    10/20/2010 at 10:29 pm

    I’m trying to wait for a PC alternative in thinness and battery life. And if some one can throw in a swivel and Wacom… I’d be happy to bust out the Visa. Hell, even if Apple made this a convertible I’d buy it. And I’ve never owned a Mac. lol

    Reply

  3. Dan Meyers

    10/20/2010 at 11:12 pm

    Great article. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t own a mac either. But it seems like apple is getting people to move up the ladder. First I got an iphone ($200), then ipad ($500), and now I’ll probably get a mac book air. 11.6″ , 2.3 lbs, under $1000… tough to beat….

    Reply

  4. Dan Meyers

    10/20/2010 at 11:12 pm

    Great article. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t own a mac either. But it seems like apple is getting people to move up the ladder. First I got an iphone ($200), then ipad ($500), and now I’ll probably get a mac book air. 11.6″ , 2.3 lbs, under $1000… tough to beat….

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/21/2010 at 12:38 am

      Conversely, for a lot of pro users it’s a move in the other direction. These lower prices might meen that some users have a $3000+ Mac Pro, $2500 15″ MacBook Pro, a $999 MacBook Air a $700 iPad and a $299 phone…

      Reply

      • Dan Meyers

        10/21/2010 at 3:03 am

        That’s true. Suppose if Apple sees a drastic reduction MacBook Pro sales, they can
        just limit availability of MacBook Air, raise prices of next iteration, or alter the features. :)

        Reply

      • Bfdonnelly

        04/04/2011 at 8:46 pm

        To me, the biggest issue to do with size is how I carry things. I think that mobility will be a stairstep function of pocket/bag/backpack size. I know I shop for my bags and backpacks based on devices’ size.

        Reply

  5. Kyith

    10/20/2010 at 11:46 pm

    not many people are seeing that these ipod iphone and ipad is suddenly feeding back massively to Mac sales.

    this is network effect taking place really!

    Reply

  6. savagemike

    10/21/2010 at 2:51 am

    I think there big vision is a walled garden for their regular computers as well as the iOS stuff.
    Something they can control more tightly and, more importantly, get there financial share of every plant available in that garden.

    Reply

  7. savagemike

    10/21/2010 at 2:51 am

    I think there big vision is a walled garden for their regular computers as well as the iOS stuff.
    Something they can control more tightly and, more importantly, get there financial share of every plant available in that garden.

    Reply

  8. Roger J

    10/21/2010 at 7:31 am

    Good article, Warner.

    My own vision as I head toward my three score years and five, is:

    Project/assignment office: medium – large notebook, client to have NAS device
    Apartment or home office: another notebook similar size, my NAS device attached to Internet link.

    For meetings, presentations, travel: tablet/slate but not an iPad in its current configuration.

    The tablet slate is all I would carry in my work bag or jacket, it would synchronise at the office and apartment as well as via DropBox for the current mission-critical stuff. It MUST have effective inking so I can use it for notes, sketches etc etc.

    So Windows boffins, when will you get there? Why does Microsoft not develop, test and launch Windows Tablet Slate, TS? I would happy to forego some of the entertainment features to be able to use the tablet/slate in work first. play second lifestyle.

    Reply

    • Gordon

      10/21/2010 at 11:40 pm

      Umm…. I had nearly exactly this set up for several years now. Sony Vaio 18″ screens at home and office (both with network storage) and a P1620 in the bag, usually in slate form. Before that it was two desktops with 24″ monitors and a HP2730 in the bag. OneNote did all the heavy lifting. Both these portables come out of sleep in seconds and last mostly all day on their extended batteries (plus you can have a spare in the bag for emergencies).

      I’m not syaing I’m anti-Apple. I have worked both an iPad and iPhone into my mix and my wife prefers Apple to Windows. But what you propose has been available on Windows for some time.

      Gordon

      Reply

    • Gordon

      10/21/2010 at 11:40 pm

      Umm…. I had nearly exactly this set up for several years now. Sony Vaio 18″ screens at home and office (both with network storage) and a P1620 in the bag, usually in slate form. Before that it was two desktops with 24″ monitors and a HP2730 in the bag. OneNote did all the heavy lifting. Both these portables come out of sleep in seconds and last mostly all day on their extended batteries (plus you can have a spare in the bag for emergencies).

      I’m not syaing I’m anti-Apple. I have worked both an iPad and iPhone into my mix and my wife prefers Apple to Windows. But what you propose has been available on Windows for some time.

      Gordon

      Reply

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