Now that everyone has fallen quiet in the post-announce exhaustion of the masses….
Chuqui 3.0: Apple releases MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.2:
Chuck, I would be very interested in your opinion on Apple leaving the Firewireport out on the new MacBook. As for many others (see the forums) it is a no-buy for me. It almost feels like a slap in the face.
The answer here is pretty simple to me: USB 2.0 won the connectivity fight in the lower end of the market. Note also that the MacBook Pro now only has a single Firewire 800 port; Firewire 400 is now gone.
the implication to me is clear: low-end, the future is USB. If you want high end performance, there’s still Firewire. Although I wonder if we’ll see that move to eSATA or something down the road. That seems to make sense.
I’ll also note for the record that I started making sure all of my bus-powered drives had USB capability as well as firewire months ago. The writing was on the wall if you knew where to look (and where to look is the PC market, where firewire has lost out to USB).
Yes, USB 2.0 is slower. If performance is really that important, Apple’s telling you that the Macbook isn’t what you want. it is, after all, a large series of performance compromises for a hunk less money than a MacBook Pro.
Doesn’t surprise me a bit. I think this is the right move for Apple.
So, my thoughts overall?
I like the new machines. I’m amused at some of the “God, more expensive!” whines… The reality is that from a pure price/performance basis, the new Macbook has equivalent performance (including in video, where macbooks really lagged) to the macBook Pro I have that’s now about 2.5 years old; same performance, about half the cost, and we’re not even getting into the new features, like the new (nifty, I think) trackpad and the LED-backed monitor. The new Macbook pros just plain old toss my current one against the wall.
Too many of the fan geeks get so focussed on price, especially “low price”, especially “I want it for free, diamond encrusted, so I can complain about how slow it is”.
The fact is, and has been, and will be: Apple isn’t about price. It’s about VALUE. You don’t see BMW issuing cars that compete with Kia on price. But for some reason, some folks think Apple should compete with windows-PC’s on price, and are constantly surprised when they don’t.
Could Apple sell a box at $800? Sure. Would they sell a billion? Probably?
Would that $800 computer have the same margins that the $1200 ones do? Of course not. And would an $800 computer cannibalize more expensive computers? Absolutely.
So the end result of an $800 computer? Higher units, reduced margins, lower profit per computer, and a shift away from the higher margin computers. Sometimes, the “cut the profit, make it up in volume” idea makes sense, but the reality is, every time Apple’s tried it, it’s been a disaster (Performa, anyone?); they will sell every computer they can make at the existing price points; could they really scale up to 2X unit volumes to handle demand for a less expensive unit? Maybe.
Would Apple selling an $800 computer be more profitable than Apple is now? Doubtful. And it’s not about selling units (not directly), it’s about making money.
Of course, and this is something the fan geeks keep forgetting, Apple is doing BOTH: unit volumes continue to scale, market share continues to go up, and Apple is making really nice profits. If it ain’t broke…
Will I buy one of the new machines? Probably, but not right away. Other priorities; they’re nice machines, but I stopped with the “gotta haves”. Heck, I was the last person in the universe to own an iPhone, far as I can tell… But I’d much rather spend my money on upgrading the laptop than upgrading to CS4 and paying the Adobe tax (but that’s a different whine…)
If I were to buy one, would it be a Macbook or Macbook pro? I’m honestly undecided. the new Macbooks look powerful enough to keep me happy, even in Bridge and CS4 and doing all of that photo geeking. The smaller screen, I’m not so sure about. Lack of firewire is a bit inconvenient, but only a bit; I’ve been seeing USB coming for a while and setting up my stuff so I can plug things into either as they exist. I’ve yet to use the cardbus, so I don’t miss that at all. And I don’t know yet whether I’ll want the more powerful video. So it comes down to “less money” vs “bigger screen” and “faster video”. and I don’t have a good sense of how I’ll factor those when I’m ready to buy.
But yeah, I expect to buy one of these. One of these days.
As to the rumors leading up to all of this, basically, John Gruber says what I would have said, only better…
Jackass of the week honors go to Duncan Riley at Inquisitr, who a week ago launched the “$800 laptop from Apple” rumor. Worse than merely printing a bogus rumor, today he’s pointing to the new 24-inch LED Cinema Display as proof that he was somehow right.
If you look at where the rumors came from, there are two main leakers: the asian companies doing the contract manufacturing, and the retail sites once things start hitting their inventory systems. I find it interesting that a rumor popped up (and then disappeared) that Apple was going back to in-house manufacturing; the only reason to consider that is better leak management. Stay tuned, this may be something it’s working on, and if so, the fact that the brick stuff leaked so enthusiastically and so accurately might well get Apple to think in that direction.
And the retail? That’s where the rumor geeks blew it. When pricing info started leaking (from, it seems, tech geeks at Best Buy, as far as I can tell), they saw the $899 price point and blithely went running off into the swamp yelling NETBOOK! NETBOOK! not stopping to think maybe that product wasn’t a computer… oops.
and since that was really the focus of so much of the hype of the rumormongering, even though a lot of the details on the machines and the new manufacturing process were right — you have to give much of this round of rumoring a big, fat FAIL, because that was what everyone was yelling about, and they were wrong. A fact they’ll conveniently forget to remind you on.
(me? I got the blu-ray thing right, I wasn’t convinced “brick” was the new process, but maybe something else — and I wasn’t so good there. mostly I kept my mouth shut, because I find all of this rumoring silly, because too many of these “experts” take half a fact and run off into the swamp with it, and people blindly believe them, and then blame Apple when it doesn’t happen.)
These rumor sites are like the psychics that do new year predictions — lots of froth, little substance, if they get something right, they scream from the rooftops, and all the stuff they get wrong, they hope you forget. It’s not that you shouldn’t read the sites; they have their purpose. Just don’t take them so damn seriously. (heck, it’s not just you, the morning of the announcement, a CNET editor on KGO was talking about how he was expecting a $799 macbook, and how Apple was in trouble if they didn’t. Talk about not getting it — by then, even the rumor sites had things under better control than that. But then, I’ll read AppleInsider before I read CNET…)
Now, for some of the other coverage:
Is Steve Jobs Preparing His Farewell?
Steve Jobs is leaving Apple. Not tomorrow, but probably very soon. That’s why he started to say good bye today,
Nope. Thanks for playing. Daring Fireball got it right here. Steve IS reacting to the “Without Steve, Apple is nothing” crowd by bringing forward people that will be part of the future of Apple — but this is the beginning of a long process of transition, not anything happening soon. I think there’s still so much Steve wants to accomplish, he’s just getting going!
Don’t you find it interesting that at a time when Apple’s stock price was going into the toilet (like everyone else’s), a rumour emerged about low-priced MacBooks? A rumour which analysts picked up on, and which thus protected Apple’s share price from falling any further at a vulnerable time.
And now it seems that rumour was not necessarily true, but as the whole market has gone up it doesn’t matter half as much.
So here’s the question: Who would benefit from a rumour like that being spread at that particular time? Someone started that rumour, after all…
The problem is it’s not a single-variable problem. The big players in the rumors aren’t people trying to profit from them (as in stock or investments), but i other things, like advertising/pageviews, or ego/reputation and geek cred. The rumor sites and other geeks falling over each other to out rumor each other aren’t trying to manipulate the stock as much as tehy’re trying to drive traffic or get people to pay attention to them (hello, Jason Calcanis! FAIL).
And here’s what I think is the best summary I’ve read:
There were some significant price decreases in today’s announcements, but they generally amount to reflections of the normal, continuing advance of technology, and not a decision by Apple to play in new markets. For example, the $1300 model of the MacBook now has an instant-on backlit display and a fast graphics processor – which yesterday you would have had to pay $2000 to get in the MacBook Pro line. And at the high end of the line, there’s a $2500 machine with 4GB of RAM, dual graphics chips including one with 512MB, and a 320GB hard drive – more power than you could have gotten in any Apple laptop before this.
Despite the fantasies of low-price MacBooks, it seems pretty clear that Apple knows its core audience well. Some of the statistics that came out at the event include that Apple sells more notebooks in education than Dell does (with 39% of the market), and that Mac sales have outgrown those of the industry for 14 of the last 15 quarters.