iBooks and PowerBooks future...
In recent years, Apple has rarely surprised us with notebook updates that caught the crowds off-guard. The last time that happened was when the 17" and 12" PowerBooks were released. That was in January 2003. Since then, we've seen gradual updates. Highend features have been given to the middle model. But real progress? Nope.
Yesterday's iBook updates are nice. The 12" model certainly appeals to many - and it has been the most successful iBook model, anyway. Cutting prices has helped the PowerBooks and iBooks in the past, too, but it seems to me that Apple has been releasing the iBooks and PB models always some months late. This started in January 2003. Steve Jobs called it "the year of the notebook", but then nothing
happened for nine months. The 15" model stayed in its Titanium state and didn't earn the aluminum body until September.
Now let's cut to the end of 2006, when I believe all notebook models will sport intel processors. Suddenly, we can't claim that Apple's notebooks are somehow better because of the PPC. So let's say (I'm just taking a number here) Apple uses the fastest and bestest intel mobile processor available for the PowerBooks, the 2.3 GHz dual-core Yonah part with 64-bit extension. Great! Finally a 64bit processor in the PowerBook. But can Apple then keep the highend PowerBook using this processor for 6-9 months? While competitors like hp, Dell, Sony etc. are already using the next generation of intel's mobile processors?
While Apple's previous situation certainly wasn't comfortable in that Motorola only made slow progress with the G4, the situation was
comfortable for Apple's hardware engineers. They only had to build computers once, basically. The aluminum PowerBooks have not seen drastic changes for more than two years. Now with the market telling Apple that their hardware suddenly is older faster, will they be able to keep up - or will they (again and again) have to fight the image of advancing notebooks "too little, too late"?
Sure, part of the argument is mute, because if you want to use Mac OS X, you'll have to
buy a Mac, even if that means using "last year's" intel processor. Also, if you buy them when they're new and replace them with another
PowerBook when that
is new, you're fine.
Still: I hope that Apple finally gets its act together and switches to much
quicker adoption of available new processors. If I head on to store.apple.com, I want to select "PowerBook", then "15 inch", and then I want to be able to choose the processors that are actually available on the market. But that's not how Apple's been working in the past. Should I fear? Or hope? Let's hope.
For example, I hope that Apple doesn't expect applause for bringing a 1.33 GHz processor to the world's favourite iBook, the 12 inch model.