Opinion » Cybernaut


It’s all a bit much



Some pretty big things have been announced over the years at the annual MacWorld Expo, like the iPod, the iPhone, iLife, the switch to Intel chips, the flat screen iMacs, and more.

The cult of Mac (I’m merely a fan) awaits these new announcements breathlessly then proceeds to freak out about whatever it is that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has to say.

For my part, the 2008 MacWorld Expo left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed, as the biggest announcement of the day was the MacBook Air laptop. Big deal. So what if it’s the thinnest laptop on the market — who does that benefit exactly? People with already overloaded briefcases might appreciate the slight difference and thickness and weight, if only so they can stuff in more papers, but is it really worth the extra $650 to get a computer that’s all of 0.8 cm thinner and about a kilo lighter than a regular MacBook?

Keep in mind that the Air is also lighter on the performance side, with slightly slower processors and less hard drive capacity than Apple’s entry-level laptop. You can upgrade to a version with a faster processor and a flash memory hard drive, but that brings the price to $3,250 — well out of the ballpark for most of us.

Battery life is slightly improved, giving you about an extra hour of roaming time, but is that worth another $600?

The Air is also missing an optical drive, which means you’ll most likely have to shell out an extra $100 for an external drive to read or write CDs and DVDs. No word on how thin or thick that particular attachment will be, but it looks thicker than the laptop and probably adds back most of the weight that was carved out of the laptop.

I know what the cultists would tell me at this point — “But it’s so thin, it’s the thinnest laptop in the world! Apple has done it again!” — but I really have a hard time seeing why any of this matters.

Neither did the shareholders, as Apple stock dropped about five per cent after Steve Jobs’ keynote speech. No doubt investors were expecting something as revolutionary and marketable as the iPod to come along, and came away from MacWorld feeling slightly disappointed. That’s gratitude for you — people who invested money in Apple five years ago have seen their investment increase by about 2,000 per cent since then, but when the 2008 lineup is on the bland side the investors jump ship. That’s the problem with the stock market — it’s far too emotional. Apple still has a lot of great products, a growing share of the home and office computer market, and a virtual stranglehold on the portable music market.