Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apple's MacBook Air - Airheaded response

Warning: slightly nerdy entry. Enjoy the geekitude.

Every year around this time, the chief kahuna of Apple, Steve Jobs, delivers the keynote address at the Macworld Expo. This is a big deal for the world of Apple, because here is where the company's most significant, transformational announcements are made. For example, this is where the iPhone was first introduced last year.

At Macworld, the Apple faithful hang on Steve's every word, enveloped in the now-legendary Reality Distortion Field that turns otherwise ordinary folks into unabashed cheerleaders for the brand. Whatever new stuff Steve announces, it'll be the coolest thing ever, and they'll gladly line up ten deep to buy it.

To wit, the headlines from this year's keynote reveal a great deal of collective slobbering over a new ultra-small laptop known as the MacBook Air. It's super thin, super light and super sexy looking. Macphiles are already contemplating selling their firstborn to get one. FWIW, I want one, too.

Despite the fact that Steve announced a bunch of other stuff, the mainstream media is patently unable to take its eyes off the new uber-laptop. Many outlets are leading with this story (soldiers are dying, the economy's tanking but, hey, Apple released a new computer...don't get me started.)

They'd do well to rethink their sense of priorities. As sexy as the MacBook Air is, it isn't the big news. At the end of the day, it's a lovely machine. But like all lovely machines, it'll soon be forgotten as newer lovelier machines are introduced. The real news lies in Apple's deal with six major Hollywood studios to rent movies through iTunes.

More than a merely evolutionary machine, the movie deal potentially spells the beginning of the end for the neighborhood video store. Apple's been slowly building its iTunes world for a number of years, starting with music downloads and evolving into all media types, and this is the latest step toward iTunes ubiquity. The goal: renting movies through your TV running iTunes and controllable through a regular old remote control. It's coming, and Apple wants to lead the charge. Someday, when you're wondering when the tide began to shift away from conventional movie rentals, remember this date.

I'm barking into the wind on this, of course. Everyone's too blinded by the lovely laptop. For now, I'll be over here. Alone.

Your turn: Why do cool machines always seem to overshadow shifts in culture?

One more thing: As they're made available online, I'll post a few media links as updates to this entry. I've been yakking again. Here they are:


Michael Manning said...

Carmi: We've both posted on similar subjects and sentiments! MAC would be overwhelming as I'm "taming the tiger" of Bill Gate's "Vista"!

carli said...

it takes a lot less explanation to show a new computer and say, "look. . . pretty" than to explain the way iTunes rentals will work. Still, I'm way more excited over the rental opportunity than the computer. (I can't afford the computer, and I'd probably lose or drop it, it's so small.)
I agree with you: it's amazing that less than a decade ago, I was fiddling around with VCRs, and now I have so many options for watching movies--rentals (through the mail!), buying cheap DVDs, Pay-Per-View and on-demand, setting a DVR to record a movie that's on, and now downloads.
I'm going to check out the new service tonight at home, and if it downloads quickly enough on my machine, and there's enough of a good selection, I'll be canceling my Netflix immediately--especially since Netflix never made their download service available to MAC users.
To think, there was a time you had to leave your home to see a movie!

spwriter said...

Carli has it right - a sexy-looking piece of hardware is far easier to sell than a quiet revolution in movie-watching habits. (And by "quiet" I mean "you won't notice the shift until it's become the standard and by then you'll have forgotten what it was like to stand in the queue at Blockbuster.")

Of course, I sure would like to watch my movies on that sexy-looking piece of hardware. And while you're right, the MacBook Air is evolutionary, not revolutionary, "Remote Disk" is a pretty neat trick.

Guess I'm going to have to find $1800 to satisfy my Maclovian technolust. The change in the couch isn't going to cut it this time. Sigh. Anyone wanna buy a kidney? I've kept it in really good condition...

sister AE said...

For most I think it boils down to, "ooh! shiny!"

Bill Deys said...

I love the new MacBookAir, I would like to see the 160 GB drive from the larger iPod Classic in it, which is the only thing holding me back from buying one! In all fairness I kinda need the upgrade. I also agree that the bigger news is the iTunes movie rental deal. Wile I was watching the live blogging from the keynote I was thinking to myself that Apple just single handedly killed the HD-DVD vs. BluRay war. I am disappointed that it's going to take so long to release out side of the US though.

Joan said...

My husband is a MacAddict and loves to have all the shiny toys. All he'd told me yet was "IWANTONE" (in reference to the new Air, of course). So thanks to you, Carmi, I now know there was something in Steve Jobs' announcements I might actually be interested in. And I agree with you - renting movies through iTunes is much more revolutionary. But the boy's gotta have his toys. :-P

Suzi-k said...

hi, hopped across from Jenty's blog, glad to 'meet' you. I guess focussing on the lastest glitzy toy is easier on the conscience (it's just a LITTLE splurge in the budget) than considering how to make a difference to weightier issues like global warming and war in Dafur, or why the world is so strangely silent on the Zimbabwe meltdown........ personally I am a bit of a cyber dinosaur.. I prefer to wait till these things have been around a bit, and are about to be replaced by the next flavour of the month, and by then you can buy them at a fraction of the price, and have had a chance to figure out how they work!.

~Easy said...

Thanks for stopping by. Interestingly enough, I had marked you for a later visit because I came across your link while updateing my old entries.

I'm a MacAddict, but I don't know about the iTunes thing, unless I can get a deal similar to what I get through Netflix.

rashbre said...

Its all about the eye-candy.

You're right that the movies, like iTunes and the iPhone have new structurally different revenue models and thats the way that Apple can make lots of wonga.

Meantime, I'd better start practicing those new 'gestures' on the trackpad.

best rashbre