Thoughts on the MWSF ‘08 keynote

January 20, 2008

It seems only logical to write a post-”Stevenote” analysis following my obligatory Macworld 2008 predictions entry from last week. Complete rundowns of the keynote have been hashed out ad nauseam across the internet, so I will limit myself to just two points of interest.

The state of the Mac OS

Steve Jobs started off by reporting that Apple had so far shipped 5 million copies of Leopard, making this “the most successful release of Mac OS X ever.” According to Jobs, this constitutes 20% of the Mac OS X installed base. As a developer currently working on a Leopard-only product, I find these numbers to be outstanding news. Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster has noted several times that the type of users who quickly upgrade to the latest operating system are the ones willing to spend money on software, and as such constitute a terrific target audience for new applications.

One can only imagine what numbers Jobs will reveal at the WWDC ‘08 keynote this summer.

The MacBook Air

Unsurprisingly, the complaints, the incessant whining, and the usual proclamations of Apple’s impending doom due to the introduction of the MacBook Air are running rampant across the web. Price comparisons between it and other MacBook models are being used to justify claims that the machine is “overpriced” and “underpowered.”

Granted, the Air is obviously less powerful than its MacBook (Pro) counterparts and it does indeed cost more. But engineering a notebook to fit into the constraints this product dictated doesn’t happen by itself. Hardware engineers don’t work for free. Miniaturization is always expensive. Historically, notebooks have been less powerful than their desktop counterparts, yet tended to cost quite a bit more. Portability comes at a premium.

John Gruber published his take on the MacBook Air in which he says that it is “clearly designed as a secondary machine, not a main machine.” While I agree that this statement holds true for power users, I also think Scott Stevenson makes an excellent point that “there’s an entire category of users that could use this not just as their primary, but their only computer.”

I don’t know if the MacBook Air will be a bestseller, but I do predict it’ll be a success.