Quick Take: Apple Announcements 10/23

Well, the big news today is from Apple. The company has announced some major product updates.

A few thoughts….

In typical self-congratulatory fashion, Apple cheered the iPhone 5 and iOS6, conveniently forgetting the  Maps debacle…  as well as a widespread problem with basic meeting/calendar invite handling. They do sell a lot of phones, though.

New MacBooks were introduced. Apple is firmly committed to killing the onboard DVD drive, so you’ll just buy all your programs Apps from the Apple App Store. Silly me, no one uses programs any more…

I don’t understand the drive to compress Apple displays into the maximum number of pixels. The new Pro has higher resolution than an HDTV, on a 13″ screen. I don’t know about you, but my eyes aren’t good enough to notice that.

“Like all of our products, the team works hard on making these eco-friendly.” Interesting comment by Senior Vice President of Lying Marketing at Apple. The new MacBook Pro build looks very similar to the previous version which is called out in several sources as an example of a sealed, non-recyclable, non-upgradeable design. It seems that Mr. Schiller saying it’s environmentally-friendly makes it so. Seriously, no laptop should have a permanent battery. Even the best ones last 2-3 years tops in everyday work use. Run it flat a few times and it’ll get down to about an hour on a charge. It’s the nature of lithium-ion batteries.

Wow, the iMac is updated after 1-1/2 years. The new version looks really slick. I’m concerned about cooling of the hard drive, and serviceability and lifespan of what look like laptop-type components. Starting price of $1,299 is in the same ballpark as the multi-touch Lenovo A720…which I’d argue is more innovative…



Apple announces new iMac with 5mm thin profile - Jason O'Grady

Meanwhile the “super user” Mac Pro has gone a full year and a half with no meaningful updates. It’s a very expensive entry in a field of workstations from HP and Lenovo that continue to offer better value. You’ll recall that Tim Cook said earlier this year, “We’re not a computer company.”

If you’re in the Apple iOS ecosystem and like it, you’ll like the newly-upgraded iPad. Except…the only real news is the inclusion of the new Lightning connector. Otherwise it’s kind of like the Cupertino crew needed to release a full-size iPad with the new connector and kept asking, “What’s the least we have to do to get people to buy it?” Gizmodo has an expansion of this line of thinking here.

And finally we get to the iPad mini. It’s magical, revolutionary, and has less bezel around the screen than the Android device.  It’s reasonably priced…from $329 to $659. Interestingly, no mention of the Kindle Fire ($159),  Fire HD ($199), or Fire 8.9, which tops out at $614 but includes high-speed wireless access. I still think the sweet spot of the Kindle line is the $199 Fire HD or the entry 8.9 at $299.

Bottom line

The Kindle Fire line is my favorite tablet right now…a good choice for budget buyers. 2 basic Fire 7″ tablets for the price of one iPad mini! The Fire HD 8.9 at $299 is a nice compromise between size (full-size iPads always seemed too big to me) and price. Amazon has nice integration of apps, books, and video on demand that makes the experience a small step behind Apple. Main drawback: lack of a camera. I haven’t missed having one and I cry every time I see someone taking pictures or video using a tablet.

Other Android tablets are nice for the casual user, Android convert, or the real power-user techie. Root that sucker, build your own baseband, and flash it like you want it! People with lots of android phone apps will feel at home with these devices as well.

And yes, Apple will sell ten million iPad minis. Primarily to people who are already in the Apple ecosystem and own iOS apps, but many of them will go into the education market (and to families) because of the sheer number of apps available.

The Microsoft Surface tablet is expected to cost more than the iPad now, I see Windows Tablets as non-starters. Windows RT Tablets will be sold at fire-sale prices after Christmas but we’ll be living with the legacy of this crap on our desktops and laptops for years to come.

What do you think? Is Apple on the right track? Does any of this really matter?

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