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
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.