MacBook Air and Target Markets

Devin makes a number of entirely logical and valid points in his post while at the same time completely missing the point that sub-portable laptops ARE for people who want basic functions.

I looked at the demo on Apple’s site today and found myself lusting for one but then saying “well it doesn’t have an optical drive and the processor doesn’t have the horsepower that my MacBook Pro has”. But when I think about it, I rarely pop a CD or DVD into the drive I currently have and writing this blog post or running a web browser or editing a powerpoint file really doesn’t take a lot of processor power.

I only plug in and sync my iPhone and iPod so one USB is not a problem and I don’t use an external monitor and rarely a projector so what’s the big deal with the mini-DVI. Wireless internet only… not a problem, I can’t remember the last time I actually plugged in an ethernet cable. EVDO would be awesome but I don’t know if there is an ExpressCard slot, probably not.

I think the one thing that would frustrate me is that running Photoshop (and I just use Elements) might be a challenge on an Air and a Windows virtual machine is going to be out of the question. But having said that, to be out and about and have that instead of my 15″ MBP would be a real treat.

Yeah I want one but will probably wait until rev 2 of this model.

First, let me just say that the Air is an extremely impressive piece of technology. The miniaturization, the optimization of space, the blatant disregard for current standards — it’s everything a revolutionary machine should be. Except it isn’t one. It’s a flight of Apple vanity that is completely impractical for anyone who needs to do more than the most basic functions with their computer. Find out why inside.

[From CrunchGear » Archive » MacBook AirHead: why Apple’s new laptop is basically useless]

13 thoughts on MacBook Air and Target Markets

  1. The high-end one has 2G and a 1.8 Ghz Core 2 Duo. There is absolutely nothing that you can’t do on this that you could do on a Macbook due to insufficient processor power or RAM. So Photoshop, a Windows VM, etc are all easily doable and will perform adequately, if not well.

    This device is lacking in expandability and options, not performance.

  2. While it looks sexy and all, personally I would miss

    – replaceable battery
    – docking station
    – VGA port
    – PC Card slot (for EVDO card… yeah, I could switch to USB, but that then takes the one slot)
    – higher screen resolution (my current ThinkPad has 1400*1050
    – SD Card reader (again, could use USB dongle, but would once again use the one USB port)
    – Ethernet (I use it frequently)

    So I guess as sexy as it is, it’s not for me. Fortunately my ThinkPad isn’t much heavier (4lbs) and functionality/flexibility has precedence over style for me.

  3. I agree, we often don’t need a full PC, especially not while traveling… I’m thinking of an Eee PC as travel “blogging machine”.

    But back to the Air: the single biggest issue to me is the non-replaceable battery. Ironically, this Stanford battery invention came to light today.. a bit late for the MacBook Air:

  4. The battery issue is a red herring. Most people don’t have a spare battery for their laptop, and if you can get a 5-6 hour charge, as you can on a Vaio TZ, then you really are hard pressed to convince me that a second battery capability is a necessity.

    I don’t have a spare battery for my iphone either… and Apple sold 4 million of those.

    My MBP is a 2.3 with 2gb RAM and while I am inclined to agree with you on the processor speed, the fact remains that my old MBP was a 2mhz processor and it was kinda sluggish. More to the point, the Air has an Intel graphics chip that shares memory with the processor, while the MBP has an ATI or NVIDIA graphics chip with dedicated VRAM. Big difference.

    Insofar as virtual machines are concerned, those things chew up a lot of hard disk space. I have 30gb free from my 120gb drive. I would be really reluctant to install on an 80gb 1.8″ drive (which are really slow to begin with). Also, the Air has an ATA drive while the MBP has a much faster SATA interface. Also, no Firewire on the Air.

    I just wouldn’t have high expectations for the Air when it comes to processor or graphics intensive applications.

  5. Well, I said “I would miss” the user-replaceable battery. Clearly, YMMV. I do have two batteries for my current laptop (and had two for my previous one as well). My current extended and regular battery packs give me about 7 hrs of runtime (primarily browsing/email via WiFi). I don’t carry both of them at all times, but certainly use them enough that I am thinking of adding another extended battery to compensate for the loss of capacity in the two original one-year-old batteries.

    My Thinkpad has a Core (not 2) Duo 1.83 Ghz CPU and 2GB RAM, with integrated Intel video and is certainly fast enough for pretty much everything I have thrown at it (including running development tools and databases). It does have a 200 GB SATA drive, so plenty of space for VM images if I wanted to run any.

  6. At my place of work in the UK we recently phased out optical drives for peoples’ (Wintel) laptops. They were very very rarely used. I’m very into less being more, and can’t help remembering another Apple product a while back that did not include (gasp) a floppy drive!

  7. Jeff, I think you nailed it with the reference to the HD.

    I have a 120gb drive on my MBP as well and there’s about 13gb available. No way I could manage with an just an 80gb.

    As you say rev 2 of this will be a major improvement as only Steve can get away with!

    Maybe then.

  8. Oliver,
    I am not denying that for a segment of the market the replaceable battery is not important, but the POV of my post was that for the target market Apple is targeting with the Air it’s not likely a factor.

    To use the requirements of any one segment, in your case a power user, as a proxy for the broader market would be a mistake.

  9. Jeff, I was only speaking from my perspective :-) You were speaking about your requirements (VMs, …). Obviously your requirements are different than mine (and to be clear, I didn’t list them in order of priority… the higher screen resolution of my ThinkPad or the availability of a docking station is actually more important to me than the ability of carrying around a second battery). Not sure if your requirements are a better proxy for the broader market than mine. I guess Steve would probably say that they aren’t targeting me. I am sure the Air will sell a lot…

    Anyway, I was hoping for something a bit more radically different. Leaving out the optical drive isn’t exactly revolutionary (my ThinkPad hasn’t got one either, it’s in the docking station) and I agree it’s a good decision.

  10. yeah, i think a big part of the equation is what you want to do with this thing. If you are wanting a basic laptop that looks great and can do most things – you’ll probably like it. sure, there are drawbacks, and I would agree, I would wait for the next revision.

  11. yeah, I like JK’s blog. To rehash this topic, there are now TWO batteries issues. The first being the original fixed battery, which is flashing up as an issue now because of a potential false advertising issue about battery life. Specific to the battery life, I think 2 1/2 hours is pretty damn poor.

    At any rate, this is why it is best to wait until the gen 2 for any new apple product to come out. I decided I can’t get an Air anyways because my EVDO card won’t work and I don’t want to get a USB version.

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