PC World blogger thinks MacBook Air shows it’s time for Apple to license Mac OS X

“Who else but Apple could launch a product like the MacBook Air? With its focus on form over function, it is destined for the niche of early Apple adopters, sure to get burned on price and features when Apple upgrades to at least include a bigger hard drive than 80GB, ethernet, Firewire and a user-replaceable battery,” Mike Barton blogs for PC World.

MacDailyNews Take: Why would Apple do that? Did they discontinue their MacBook and MacBook Pro lines that already include larger hard drives, Firewire, and user-replaceable batteries for those that want them? No, they did not. Different products for different users and uses. It sounds like the imagination-bereft Barton wants a MacBook, at least; or maybe a MacBook Pro.

Barton continues, “I say let early adopters get burned. This product begs a bigger question of Apple: When will you stop holding back the Mac OS and start licensing the OS?”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, for fsck’s sake. Because Barton can’t wrap his unmalleable mind around a certain Apple product that just might be a bridge to the future, now Apple must license Mac OS X to every Tom, Dick and Harry, so that these licensees can sell the cheapest possible hardware they can find. cram the junk into their fugly cases, festoon them with garish stickers, install at least 50 gigs of crapware (gotta get paid, you know), fail to support their customers properly, introduce all kinds of driver issues, and drag Apple Mac’s reputation into the sewer. Great idea, Mike!

Barton continues, “Apple’s monopoly power over the Mac OS is holding back better software. If you want Mac OS, Apple says, love it or leave it. Apple fanboys and girls are always ready to point this out, saying you don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it. But defending this monopoly is holding back personal computing. I like the Mac OS (which is more advanced than Windows), and I love the idea of being able to have a dual boot Windows machine. I am not in the market for an ultraportable, but Apple doesn’t offer one laptop I would buy. While the price parity issue has waned, the fact remains: Apple doesn’t make a laptop under $1000.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not only does Barton lack imagination, he’s cheap, too! Don’t kill yourselves lining up to meet him, girls.

We can’t ship junk. There are thresholds we can’t cross because of who we are. The difference is, we don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, August 7, 2007

Barton continues, “A 13.3-inch screen but no optical drive? Thin but not that light at three pounds? Maybe a boardroom or flashy sales-force machine, but no user-replaceable battery? And Intel custom-designed the CPU to fit, but Apple is not even using a energy-miserly 45nm Penryn chip (with its deep power-down technology to squeeze more battery life out).”

MacDailyNews Take: We half expected Barton to be screaming for his floppy drive. The MacBook Air is meant to appeal to a certain type of user. Whether this market is large enough to support such a computer is anybody’s guess; obviously, Apple thinks there is a large enough market for it to have been developed and produced. MacBook Air challenges a lot of assumptions. Mac users are much better at tackling those challenges than the types that can’t even get past the lack of a parallel port, much less dealing with the concept of no built-in optical drive.

Barton continues, “Apple is missing so much opportunity to grow market share with the Mac OS… Why doesn’t Apple at least offer the Mac OS to business-focused companies, especially if it is going to continue to develop niche products like the MacBook Air when there are big holes in its lineup?”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dennis” for the heads up.]

We do not believe that the MacBook Air battery is an issue. As for the form factor, MacBook Air offers a large-ish screen and a very thin profile. Apple does not offer, say, a 12-inch MacBook Pro. Would Apple have more success with a 12-inch MacBook Pro? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it would impact Apple’s other Mac lines in negative ways. Every new Mac line has the capability to affect existing Mac product lines (see below about how the MacBook Air debut has us now considering Mac Pro). Also, Apple’s not big on giving the market what they want today, they’re looking to give the market what they’ll want in the future. If that adds risk to new products’ viability, so be it. It’s far better than the alternative.

We are MacBook Pro users. 17-inch MacBook Pro users, no less. So, if you want to know how we’d use the MacBook Air, please keep in mind that our perspective is coming from large-screened, full-featured, very fast notebook users.

What are the drawbacks to using a 17-inch MacBook Pro when out and about using it as a portable (as opposed to being on our desks connected to second monitors, external drives, speakers, etc.)?
• Weight
• Size: Too big for economy class tray table (we know, fly business class)
• Storage space limited to MBP’s drive or external drive that we’d have to carry

So, how would we be able to affect these issues by taking along MacBook Air units and still using them similarly to how we use our 17-inch MacBook Pros?
• Weight would go from 6.8 pounds to 3 pounds
• Size: Would fit on the tray nicely
• Storage space: still limited, would still have to carry external drive, would still have to be judicious about what to keep on our internal hard drive
• EVDO: We’d have to get a USB EVDO card for the Air as our ExpressCard/34 EVDO cards would be useless. (Cost = negligible)
• Optical drive: We do not use our MBP’s optical drives (music and video come from the ‘Net, live on hard drive). We last used the drives to install Leopard. Software installs for the Air would be done either by using Apple’s $99 external SuperDrive or via the Air’s Remote Disc (allows wireless use of Mac or PC optical drive).
• We would take along our little USB travel hubs that we currently leave behind
• We would buy and carry Apple’s $29 USB 10/100BASE-T Ethernet Adapter, just in case we ran into a situation where both Wi-Fi and EVDO didn’t work, but Ethernet did (extremely rare situation in our experience).

That’s about it, except that we would be giving up some video and processor performance with the Air vs. the MBP. So, our conclusion is that, for us specifically, we would consider buying MacBook Air as a second, traveling laptop along with seriously considering Mac Pro desktops instead of MacBook Pros for the next round of upgrades. If we did the later, we would go from using 17-inch MacBook Pros as our primary computers (both for desktop and portable use) and move to Mac Pros on the desktop and MacBook Air units for the road. We would gain much greater power on the desktop and greatly lessen our travel loads if we did so. Before the Air was introduced, the Mac Pro was not even in our equation. Now, along with MacBook Air, it is being seriously considered as part of a two unit home/road solution. The MacBook Pro’s advantage is cost: a maxed-out MacBook Pro used at home and on the road is more cost-effective than a Mac Pro+MacBook Air combo (but, you have to lug it around while living with less power on the desktop). As with everything, there are pros and cons to both choices.

What do you think about the MacBook Air and how would you use it in your Mac arsenal, if at all?

MacDailyNews Note: Today is Martin Luther King Day, a U.S. federal holiday. The markets are closed today in the U.S. Many people in the U.S. have the day off. Consequently we expect news to be light, although we do hope to bring you Apple-related news throughout the day.

70 Comments

  1. As others have said, this is a hit piece – nothing more.

    MDN – Where is your “Think Before You Click” TM warning? I’m sorry I bothered reading the piece.

    Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the MBA to anyone that I know. My reco would be for either the MacBook or MacBook Pro lines.

    I use to go on business travel for a week once a month over a two year period. I would not only carry my H(d)ell issued work laptop but my MacBook too. My wife and I enjoyed video chatting and after working on the H(d)ell all day, it was nice to work on the MacBook back in the hotel.

    The MBA makes too many compromises for weight. I had no problem carrying two laptop computers with me (okay it took a while to go through security) let alone carrying just my MacBook. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the MBA.

    My two cents worth.

    Peace. (Hope everyone in the US who has the day off is enjoying their day. Others of us aren’t so lucky. <sigh>)

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I personally think the Mac Book Air will be a huge seller.
    Retiring baby boomers will use it.
    Students will use it.
    Stay at homes will use it
    Salespeople will use it
    I see two major user groups that think it will be too small.
    Major media types
    Photographers
    Designers who use CAD.
    Frankly, the Macbook was utility…and the Air has style.
    The last thing I needed was a 7 Lb MBP to do email and stock trading.

  3. Gruber’s take is priceless:

    “Mike Barton at PC World doesn’t like the MacBook Air, which, apparently, somehow proves that Apple should license Mac OS X so that he can run it on a $600 ThinkPad. I’m sure Apple will get right on that.”

  4. Funny logic, like asking Ferrari when they will license their design and start allowing other manufacturers to use the chassis and fit it with Chevrolet, KIA, Jincheng or (take your pick) any other engine. It is a package deal, designed and produced in-house from bumper-to-bumper. I certainly cannot afford one (a Ferrari) but the last thing I want to see is a bastardized version produced for the sole reason of satisfying (portions of) the greater consumer public.

  5. I need to get a job at PCRag Blobbing. I can spew drivel like this out no problem.

    Or a better idea would be to get Zune Tang a job there. He could then afford to get all those replacement batteries for his Zune and Zoon and Dell Ditty and whatever lowend crap he owns.

  6. I agree with G-Man in B’ham. I have bought extra batteries in the past, but really did not do much good. You can not store Li-ion batteries fully charged, so you must charge it before you know you need extra battery. When was last time I knew I needed an extra battery. With the new FAA regulation, I’m not sure if I can bring an extra Li-ion battery for a long flight either (which is only time I know I could use an extra battery).

  7. The battery issue is as important to the MacBook Air as it is with an iPod: it’s a non-issue.

    I’ve had an original tangerine iBook, PowerBook G4, my wife has a MacBook Pro 15″, and in none of them did we carry a second battery. I use my PowerBook G4 as my data gathering laptop when meeting with clients, and occasionally I plug in during the day for a quick charge. Frankly, I would rather carry my power cable than an extra battery.

    As for an optical drive, I never use it. Documents are transfered via email/network connection, or USB drive. Music, video, photos, etc. are on the hard drive. I’m getting by with a 60 GB drive, and I have a TON of data which I need to clean off of it but haven’t gotten around to doing so yet.

    I will strongly consider the MacBook Air as my next portable. However, I do expect a price drop in the next 6 months, once the early adopters have jumped on it.

  8. I agree with MDN’s take on the Air: I was considering replacing my now 3 year old powermac with a new Mac Book Pro (15″), but buying a desktop Mac Pro + a Macbook Air is very tempting instead and solves the issue of getting that “hunchback” feeling after lugging my powermac around all day ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    This product has definitely had an effect on the way I’m considering future purchases, which is quite interesting, I think.

  9. I had a 17″ PowerBook for several years (until stolen from my home). When on the road it was too big and heavy to lug around. At home it was great but I kept having to unplug it to cycle the battery to drain and recharge. I never once, however, changed the battery.

    I replaced the single 17″ PowerBook with a 20″ intel iMac for home use and a 12″ PowerBook for school & travel. What a great decision. The 12″ PB is much easier to carry around but it is still heavier and bulkier than I like. I’ve had it for two years now and have had no need to change the battery out. The MBA will be a great replacement for the G4-based PB — it will serve me well in completing grad school and for travel.

    I use the optical drive only for software updates and I can do that through my iMac. My current G4 PB has only 512mb of RAM and a 60gb hard drive — the MPA will be a great improvement for me. Yes, the price is a bit steep for my use but I’m hoping the next version (out before the fall semester?) will be a bit cheaper.

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