A Sony Vaio SZ with a similar specification to the £949 MacBook costs £1199, so the MacBook can genuinely compete in terms of price and performance while also dangling Apple’s stylish design under your nose to tempt you away from rival PC brands.
Stylish, fast - but at too high a price?
It’s certainly an attractive machine and we don’t doubt that many existing MacBook owners will be chomping at the bit to upgrade to the new version. Even so, the fact remains that the ‘low cost’ MacBook now costs the best part of £1000, which will obviously take it beyond the reach of many of the people who made the original MacBook such a huge success in the first place - especially during the tough times of a recession. And that includes key customer groups such as the iPod-toting students that are such an important part of Apple’s user base.
The old ‘white’ MacBook was one of the best selling machines – either desktop or laptop – that Apple has ever released, so killing it off and replacing it with a more expensive model just as the global economy is going down the toilet is a big risk.
So, as we mentioned earlier, Apple has taken out a little market-share insurance policy. Alongside the new metal MacBooks, Apple will continue to sell one of the old ‘white’ MacBook models with 2.1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 120GB hard disk and the feeble Intel X3100 graphics chip for £719, ensuring that it still has a low-cost model available for people on a tight budget.
Only 2.4cm thick
What this means, in effect, is that the MacBook line has been split in two. The old ‘white’ model is still on sale for about £700, while the new ‘metal’ models establish a new price point for Apple around the £1000 mark. And, of course, the MacBook Pro is still available for people who need top-of-the-range features and performance.
There’s no doubt that the new MacBook knocks spots off its predecessors in terms of both design and performance. However, the increased price does mean that Apple is taking something of a gamble with one of its most successful product lines. We suspect that the gamble will pay off – we really do like the new metal models, and we think punters of all kinds will when they get their hands on one – although the worldwide financial apocalypse may make some people think twice about upgrading their existing MacBook right away.
"Writing on the wall" for Firewire?
I don't know where anyone else has been looking, but for the music recording industry the wall reads "we are hugely dependent on Firewire audio interfaces, and unless something better comes along will remain so for a very long time."
USB 2.0 doesn't cut it all, as for one thing it lacks a proper isochronos transport (software emulation is not good enough) and for another lacks the 65W of bus power needed for some of the larger, portable multi-IO devices.
If Apple are phasing out Firewire, then they are phasing out one of their core customer demographics. Madness.
FireWire+DV Cam+iLife=selling point
So now the home user who has been sold on the iLife/iMovie import and editing is out of luck? Are more cameras now coming with USB 2.0 than I recall?
Arguably FW would have taken off far more if it hadn’t for its royalty-system… which Apple pressed for and backtrack (e.g. see http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/01/15/apple_caught_charging_crafty_firewire/ - although the $1 per port was a much-trumpeted figure but off the mark considerably)
Looking at various Mac forums, although there are a lot of ‘hey, what’s the big deal?’ comments, there are far, far more unhappy bunnies posting. The EFI-X USB device has attracted a lot of attention (especially for those whose hardware needs aren't met by Apple) and a laptop version is in the pipeline supposedly…. I suspect this announcement will further increase interest in this product.
Steve Jobs should check out the UK Apple store...
So, as far as Steve Jobs is concerned, "Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2."
Oh really? He should maybe check out his own company's web-store, because out of 8 video cameras listed, 5 of them are miniDV based and almost certainly use firewire as the sole means of getting footage off the device for editing.
Admittedly, two are high-end semi-pro cameras and two are expensive HDV camcorders, but the purchaser of the remaining sub £200 standard def miniDV cam can look forward to shelling out £1400 just for the privilege of editing their holiday footage on a AluMac.
Yes, I'm aware the white MacBook is still available - but the message is clear - or should that be muddled, due to the above availability of new but apparently obsolete equipment from Apple.com.
Missing the Point
I've read a lot of complaints from long term Apple users, many puzzling how could Apple have done this or that that will lose them many of the devoted fans and people that kept them alive while they were down ("average Joe may not care about FW, but video editing crowd, for example, absolutely needs it, and Apple has always been about creative people").
Well, mr Tony Smith said it. Apple doen't want those users. Apple wants average Joes. Why? Because they are far greater in number and have far more money in total.
Over the years, through iPod and similar consumer stuff, Apple has reached the masses. This gave two results. It gave Apple the taste of their money and showed it that it is not any less sweet than an artist's money. It also made the widest audience interested in their products. Apple is now using what it has learned and achieved and is trying to put Mac OS X on as many desktops as possible and, aiming for the average Joe's pocket, it is shaping it's products for him (pretty, has everything what an average user wants and needs nad it doesn't cost an arm and a leg; the almost irressistably attractive Apple logo is an extra).
And the old users still have the pro line that can sathisfy their needs. They have to pay a premium, but the estimate is that, individually, they have more money than the average guy, so it's only a matter of using the potential customer base optimally.