Macworld Reflections

For me, the iPhone software update is the most exciting thing out of today's Macworld keynote. The new features look very, very good but the iPod touch just became a seriously compelling product. I bet everyone who has one feels like Christmas just came again.

It will be interesting to see how well the location features work on the iPhone. A quick test here at home located my house to a radius of about a block. I guess that's working with just the cell tower triangulation, but it's probably a good-enough 80% solution for most non-driving uses.

I'm not even fractionally interested in the Apple TV, but I bet that the movie-on-demand cable services just had heart failure. I'll look again at the movie rentals when they escape the USA.

The MacBook Air is an absolute marvel of engineering. What they've put in there appears to be a seriously impressive feat. Interesting, though, that it's priced between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. There are several nice things about this machine: the remote disc technology looks great. Personally, I think the demise of the internal optical drive is overdue. I hope they redesign the next generation of all the other portables to have other things in the machine in place of the optical drive - another battery or a second hard drive would be welcome. All that said, though, did you notice that this is the first Mac in a long time that doesn't have FireWire? That's a fraction disappointing.

That said, however, you're still paying a chunk more money for less computer, both physically and performance-wise. I'll reserve final judgement until I hold one, because I get the impression that the Air could well be much more compelling as an object in your hands than as a spec sheet on the web. Right now, I'd describe it as "impressive but not immediately compelling". I'll definitely be looking at it for my next laptop, but it's not clear that more money and fewer features than a MacBook makes great sense unless you're permanently on the road.

The price of the SSD storage device is out in the realms of lunacy right now. I thank in advance all the crazy people who will buy it and drive down the price but, in the UK store, the cost just to to upgrade to SSD on an Air is only £60 short of the cost of an entry-level MacBook. Unless you work on your laptop while jogging, I'm not seeing the value proposition right there. Also, I'm disappointed that they didn't make the 160GB hard drive from the iPod classic available. I just think 80GB isn't enough and there's no way that that drive is going to be user-servicable.

Look what £1400 buys you in the UK:

MacBook Air: 1.8GHz Core 2, 80GB drive, 2GB RAM.
..or..
A stock Black MacBook, 4GB of RAM from Crucial.com, a 320GB hard drive upgrade from Dabs.com and you've still got £250 left over for an iPhone.

Like I said: on paper, it's deeply impressive but not immediately compelling unless you are literally damned to eternally wander the earth looking for somewhere to lay down your Mac and do some email.

As for Randy Newman, well, I wasn't sure if it was another Noah Wyle incident in which life at Apple was imitating the art of Dan Lyons. I can just imagine Fake Steve writing up the behind-the-scenes story of Randy and Paul Otellini taking bong hits of Larry Ellison's high-class marijuana backstage during the keynote. Who's going to close out the WWDC keynote? Larry Ellison and two strippers?