I Hope The MacBook Air Gets Copied

Well, not so much the Air itself, more like some of the features.

Personally I like the following:

  • Really fast bootup times in the order of 15 seconds. I really like this, as conventional harddrives get bigger, the seek time for files gets proportionally longer. Since the MacBook uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) there’s no spin up required and no need to wait for drives to rotate. It’s also likely the newer Mac OS helps here.
  • Deprecating optical drives. If something goes wrong and the MacBook needs to reload the OS, Apple provide the reloader on a thumbdrive, not on a CDDVDBluRay. That’s neat, and a great start. Thumbdrives still don’t have the capacity of optical storage, and since that’s still growing, they aren’t likely too for a while, and with some media a DVD or BluRay will still be the optimal solution, but Solid State tech will get there and eventually optical drives will go the way of the Floppy Disk.
  • Lightweightedness. I like that the MacBook is lightweight. Not so much that it’s small. I like a lot of screen real estate when I’m programming so I don’t see small devices helping me there, but bigger lightweight devices that are less power hungry.

However, Apple scares me.

I really don’t like the closedness of the Apple, or is it Jobs, philosophy. Sure they make an gorgeous product, but they lock it down so that Apple are the only gatekeeper to getting an application onto the device. This is the way the iPhone has gone, as well as the iPad. For these it’s no so much a big deal if you consider them consumer devices, but the MacBook is a computer.

During the presentation Apple took the logical step of introducing an App Store for the Lion version of OSX. This App Store will operate under similar rules to the iPhone and iPad App Stores. Developers will create apps, pay US$99 a year for access rights, and submit their apps for approval to the store, and Apple takes 30 percent of every sale. Wether or not the OSX App Store will be as strict as the others remains to be seen, but given Apples propensity to be control freaks on what they allow in their other app stores, I’d say there’d be at least some level of standards.

But what does this mean for the future?

It’s quite clear that Apple are not happy with some third party developers, like Adobe, and would be happy to be able to deny them the ability to put software on any Apple platform. Jobs has come out and said that the majority of crashes on Apple hardware are due to Flash. Wether or not this is true, it’s clear Jobs wants them gone from Apple. The only way this can happen is if Apple completely lock down their hardware and only allow approved apps.

Will this happen?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. There’d be a huge outcry if it did and many developers would jump ship. Lack of openess on Apples part lost them market share in the early days of personal computing, allowing the much more open i86 platform to take off. I don’t see them making the same mistake. Although, there are a few tech commentators saying that Apple will lose market share on their iPhone and iPad devices when the open competitors start coming online. Closing up the entire consumer range though? Probably a bit too much.

But Apple is still, and will always lean towards closed platforms with Apple as the gatekeeper. This is why I’d like to see other devices start to take on the newly announced MacBook features.

I’d love to see:

  • Windows N delivered on a thumbdrive, with a reinstallrepair process built in.
  • Desktop and Notebook Wintel PCs with built in SSDs for the OS and conventional superfast and high capacity harddrives for data storage.
  • Superfast bootup and shutdown times for Windows, with Sleep data written to the SSD.
  • A continued open environment for developers and users. This is a must.
  • App Stores that give developers a marketplace for their products, but open market places where the gatekeeper requirements are low. I think this is already happening on Windows and Google Chrome OS.
  • All of the above for the Chrome/Linux/Unix OS variants.

What MacBook features would you like to see implemented on other platforms?

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  1. Ardw ulf

    More or less agreed all around. I think the MacBook Air has some neat features that I would like to have, but I’d rather not deal with all the Mac/Jobs/Apple baggage, pay twice as than I would for a comparable piece or hardware from anybody else, and then have to jump through hoops to get software to run on it.

    SSD-based Windows laptops are not too far away, I think.

  2. Kazark

    As a 20 year Apple veteran, I have to point out that the Mac is in no way a closed system. I’ve been writing code and running WoW on my Macs for years. Any complaints about lockdown come purely from the world of phones, where I’m also writing whatever software I want. The problem only really arises when Apple prevents people from selling crappy or conflicting software through their distribution channel.

    Apple hardware has always been wonderful to work with. Their laptops especially.

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