Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Aluminum MacBook anouncement and implications

Apple just announced the new generation of MacBooks today, and there are many pretty interesting points I'd like to share here.

First of all, from the product announcement event video, it is once again apparent that Steve Jobs is getting thinner and older. Many people are worrying about his health and what this means for Apple, which was pretty much a company that thrives on his charisma. However, it is also apparent to me today, that Steve is gradually taking back stage and leaving more and more work to the others. Mostly, today's star of the event was not Steve as he always was; instead, as today's focus is more on the new design and manufacturing process of the aluminum unibody structure, the spotlight is clearly on Jony Ive (Senior Vice President of Industrial Design). It seams to me, that today's Apple is much different then what is was 5 years ago, in product design, company development and many other ways, and it seams to me that Steve is gradually handing down the power leader ship to the other in the company.

Second, the changes today unifies Apple's product line even farther. Metal & glossy black glass brings together the iMac and the iPhone/iPod touch, the iPods (although more colored) , and now the MacBook family. Even the iTV and windows in Leopard looks similar. This leaves the AirPort/Timecapsule, Mac mini and the Mighty mouse as the other major products in white plastic land. It might be quite logical to move over at least the Mac mini in the near future.

Third, the new unibody is amazingly technological advanced with high precision. This has 2 major implications.
  1. Since Apple products are now 100% made in China, and the first leaked photo of this unibody is also from China, this means that Apple is exporting high precision CNC to China. I am no engineer so I don't know to what degree of advance CNC processes does this require. But I have heard in the past that the US govenment has rules in place for providing CNC technology to China in fear that they transfer the technology to military applications such as missile manufacturing. I don't know if the rules are still in place since China now already have the technology to go outer space anyways, but it still is a very intreiguing thought to it.
  2. Apple has previously mostly focused on software and exterial design, now they are moving into industrial technology innovations (as previously mentioned, showing that Jony Ive might be taking center stage). This makes the computer market much more exciting. Previously, the only company highly advertising their engineering technologies was Sony, who went from plastic cases to ultrathin magnesium cases and then, more recently, carbon-fiber, the pinnicle of this development being the Japan-only Vaio X505 extreme. Sony is now building most of it's Vaio ultra thin product line out of carbon-fiber. In fact, Sony came out with it's own unibody aluminum casing on the recent Z series (months before Apple's new MacBooks), but they sandwitched that unibody aluminum palmrest/keyboard frame in a carbon fiber bottom and screen casing. But we all know the media has always loved Apple (especially Engadget) and Apple is much better at advertising these things; while Sony keeps a rather low profile. This is farther shown in the product designs it self: Apple made the product exterior all aluminum showcasing this technology blatantly on the outside; while Sony kind of hid it inside carbon-fiber casings with a coating that looked more like conventional plastic. Yet, what matters here is that Apple has entered a field that Sony had held to it self for years, and with this much fanfair, might be forcing other manufacturers to innovate in one way or another on their casing designs, too. Because Sony Vaios had been too low profile in this regard, it is fair to say that Apple is actually the one to make this technology have a real market changing impact.
And one last clearification. The new Nvidia graphics chip in the MacBook makes many think it's finally got an independent GPU. Well, looking at the architecture in the anouncement, what they actually did was swap out the Intel chipset and plugged in an more powerful Nvidia chip. Is it more powerful, yes; but it is an integrated chip, it still uses your main RAM memory, not dedicated memory as with a real "independent GPU".

Well, so those are the interesting thoughts. What does all that mean to me as a consumer? Not much, my first generation MacBook is still going strong and I see no reason is switching, nor to I have the dough to make the purchase.


就我咩 said...

Only one comment:

My UX50 with osx is still the lightest portable mac on the earth...

intellidryad said...

I've heard that with the new Unibody, the MacBook is still just as heavy as the old...XD