Apple coming up for Air

Steve Jobs and the team at Apple are really pushing users to go wireless with its MacBook Air. This isn’t just a new product release for Apple. What they want to do here is start a movement. The company has gone as far as to say it’s a lifestyle change around wireless work.

I am not sure if the market is really ready to change to the wireless lifestyle. I am not even sure if there is such as thing as a wireless lifestyle.

For Apple’s channel dealers, I’m also not sure if they want to sell this to their customers. Customers want choice. They want options. Instead, Apple is telling the market the future is wireless and the future is now.

Apple displayed the MacBook Air and showed everyone how razor thin it is. For me, I saw a notebook without an optical drive. To me. this will force users to become wireless.

The MacBook Air has an 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR built in. I’m sure its fast, but I do not think it is practical. Apple hopes users will wirelessly download DVD movies or files and back up those files up wirelessly to an untethered external drive called the Time Machine.

I use external drives and the thing I hate about them is that you have to plug them in somewhere and then connect another wire to a USB port or Firewire. I’m all for losing wires but not optical drives.

Late last year I reviewed the Lenovo ThinkPad Reserve Edition notebook, that’s the one bound in French leather. It too did not have an optical drive and I said at the time that it provided the user with a challenge.

I will give you an example. Out of the blue, my manager yesterday asked me to review a DVD of CDN’s recent Channel Elite Awards event. It’s 45 minutes of video. If I had been using the MacBook Air it would not have been possible. This is content you simply can’t email. Now, could it be taken off an FTP site? Sure, but that wasn’t the situation. The disk was handed to me.

People today still need peripheral data reading devices, especially in business settings where information is routinely shared. Apple asserts that for those times when you need to install software from a disk the MacBook Air has a feature called Remote Disc that enables the user to, in a sense, share or leverage a networked optical drive.

That sounds cumbersome to me. Most business professionals aren’t in a sharing mood when it comes to their computing equipment. If you’re someone who uses your notebook on the road, the MacBook Air would create challenges for you. You would have to carry an external optical drive with you. You can’t ask any of your clients to use their drives and I don’t see too many optical drives around in a hotel rooms. In a home environment, there are more options for using Remote Disc technology from Apple. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of being wireless, thin and light-weight?

One of Apple’s biggest markets is graphic arts and video production. This industry is still a tethered world and one that balks at change for change sake. Save them some money. Make them work faster. Then graphics and video industry people will listen to you. Just because Apple or another vendor says its time to be thin and wireless does not mean there will be a ground swell movement soon.

Another discussion must take place on battery life. According to CDN Now staff writer Maxine Cheung, who was at the MacWorld launch of this product, Apple said it reaches almost five hours of battery life. By comparison, the Lenovo leather notebook reached eight hours thanks to its Battery Stretch technology. That is a three hour difference. The Lenovo leather notebook enables users to be more mobile than the MacBook Air.

I see the MacBook Air as a consumer product right now and Apple still needs to work on the product to really make it suitable for business.

Apple should stop trying to create a wireless movement and develop a product that everyone can use today.

Three quick hits before I go. Pac-West Telecomm, Inc. has named Andrew R. Burroughs is new COO.

Option N.V., a WLAN developer, has appointed John Zeigler as its CFO. No, he is not the former NHL president.

And Alpha Software has hired two new executives Christian Knott and Matt Sheils. Both will both share the title of senior developer.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 17/01/08, 10:37 PM,

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