I think Apple made a few too many assumptions when creating the MacBook Air (MBA), but will that translate to a failed product? I highly doubt it.
The Developer Assumption
I think Apple made three assumptions when developing the MBA for the subnotebook demographic:
- Subnotebook users regularly use WiFi hotspots
- Subnotebook users will not use their notebooks at home
- Subnotebook users have another computer at home
I’ve found free WiFi hotspots in my area and I seem fortunate enough to be surrounded by a few, but I imagine the average traveler would rely more on an Edge/3g card than a hotspot. So while you’re MBA may be completely wireless, I would argue not as many folks will use it now as in the future.
As a subnotebook, I imagine the MBA will suffice for day to day chores: internet surfing, document editing, etc. Does that mean I can’t use this at home more heavily? Will I not be able to edit photos? Edit films with iMovie? Maybe I’m an extreme case, but from Panther to Tiger, I ran my life around nothing more than an iBook G3 with 900 MHz. Slow yes, but it worked. So I have a bit of faith for the MacBook Air. Will it work as well as a MacBook Pro? That’s a resounding “NO.” So why differentiate into this new market? Frankly, because of the third assumption.
What People Expect Isn’t What They Need
Apple has to assume you have another computer at home to make use of the MBA. I think that’s another reason people are puzzled over it. People seem to equate SUBNOTEBOOK for a CHEAP entry into the Mac lineup. You want cheap and entry you get a Mac Mini. You want thin and portable, you get the MacBook Air. That said people may think Apple has stepped too far too quickly. In doing so they short-sided functionality with form. So I question, if you’re unhappy with the MacBook Air, why? What would you add to it that wouldn’t have you opt for a MacBook or a MacBook Pro instead?
People said the same thing with the Smart Phone market when the iPhone was released. It faced strong criticism that the market was too small for any new, dominant player to take over. So why can’t the same be said for the subnotebook market? Perhaps with Apple’s entrance into it, a revitalization will occur, and people will begin to find niche uses for it. Think of the student. I could see the MacBook Air becoming the dominant dorm staple. It’ll get you to class, it’ll write your papers, it’ll hook up to an external monitor, and it’ll edit a movie or song for you. It won’t do it as well as the MacBook Pro, but it will do it in an extremely small, justifiable space. I think cost then, would be the only deterrent for this product. If cost is an issue, why aren’t you settling for a MacBook?