When September rolled around and we revealed Apple would likely hold a Special Event in October, revealing the all-new MacBook Air, we felt a wee bit apprehensive in doing so. At Three-Guys-And-A-Podcast we can't say we feel any less squeamish about looking forward to Apple's next Mac hardware special event either, but here we go again...
|January 2011||New iPad|
|April 2011||All New Mac Book Pros + Final Cut Pro Update|
Since Apple has quit attending the MacWorld trade show, MacBook Pro launches roughly follow a fall or spring release schedule. This year proved to be different due to the MacBook air being the major Mac focus for the fall/winter timeframe. January will likely be reserved for Apple's annual iPad refresh. This leaves April as Apple's launching point for the all-new MacBook Pro design. We don't believe this will be a simple refresh of the MacBook Pro, rather, Apple will deliver an all-out redesign, the big brother of the MacBook air.
News Corp and Apple are teaming up to bring you an iPad only newspaper called The Daily. It will push content throughout the day and cost $99 a week. The content will be exclusive to the iPad as it will not be available online or in print.
If News Corp was developing this type of application alone, I might question how successful it will become. The fact that Apple is also working on this application almost insures that this will be successful. Apple will not only bring its marketing power to bare, but also their application development know how. This should be a great looking application if nothing else. Rupert Murdoch is fully behind the iPad and this application, so he should be putting some good editors and writers on this project. Will those writers know what to write for a publication with a limited amount of viewers, especially at the beginning? We will have to see what the content is looks like to find out. Either way, it is an interesting experiment to see if people will pay for news content.
RIM has a video up on their YouTube channel showing that the iPad is slower than the Playbook in browser performance. Now, I would like to go and look at this playbook and see how it compares, but the Playbook is not available. Basically it is still vaporware, so until RIM actually starts selling this Playbook, it really does not matter. Now the Playbook is supposed to come out sometime in the second quarter 2011 and have a sub $500 price. We should really wait until RIM has a shipping Playbook before performance tests are conducted. It would be better for RIM just to demo the cool new features instead of trying challenge their competitors with vaporware products.
The tests do seem accurate on my ipad, although I find it interesting that the Playbook is being compared to a current generation iPad. When we know that a new version of the iPad is coming out sometime in first quarter of 2011. From the tests, RIM is only comparing the browsers and not any of the other applications. They don’t show battery life either. All of the test shown in the video are performance based tests except for the Acid3, which test web standards. It is expected that the Playbook, with its 1GHz ARM processor, would bet the old iPad. As far as the Acid test goes, Safari mobile may not be pixel accurate, but Safari for the mac is. I am sure by the time the Playbook ever comes out, Safari Mobile will be just as good as the Playbook. The Playbook uses webkit for browser rendering, which is the same as Safari and Chrome. I don’t see an advantage here for RIM.
Does RIM think Apple will not update their iPad before the Playbook comes out? No, they know a new version of the iPad is coming out soon. They need to show some advantage over the iPad, so they better do it now, with the first generation model. It certainly will not be screen size, as the Playbook looks tiny compared to the iPad. They know, when the second generation comes out, they won’t have an advantage. They released this demo in hopes it will prevent people from buying iPad and waiting for the Playbook if it ever comes out. I guess RIM needs to trick consumers in buying a Playbook instead of an iPad. Why not just build a better product?
They may have demoed the browser, but what about some of the other applications that will be available. Did they demo any of those? So RIM tried to find something that the Playbook an advantage of over the iPad, and this was it? They could only find faster browser performance and Acid3 tests as the best advantages for the Playbook, a vaporware product, over a first generation iPad? It does not look good for the Playbook, they may need more time.
As you can see, the Playbook is no iPad killer. Just like the Samsung Tab is no iPad killer. If a real iPad competitor does emerge, it will need to dominate these hopefuls in order to get enough developers on board. Without developers, a tablet is dead in the water. Tablets need developers far move than smart phones do. My guess Android will be the OS, but Android will not be tablet ready for at least another year. So we won’t see a true competitor for the iPad for at least another year. That gives a whole another year for Apple to keep improving their iOS. The longer Apple gets, the harder it will become to compete with them.
Bloomberg's Amy Thompson has given us a glimpse of what Rodman & Renshaw, LLC believes is going to happen to iPad sales this Christmas quarter; fall short of estimates by a wide margin.
Rodman & Renshaw's analyst Ashok Kumar believes the estimates of 6 million iPads being sold this quarter is out of line and may run as few as 5 million.
Last week Apple announced they are discontinuing the Xserve. The Xserve is a rack mount server solution running the Macintosh OS. Apples added a alternative, which is the Mac Pro running their server software. The new product looks interesting, but it does not replace an Xserve as the Mac Pros are not rack mountable. Some have suggested Mac Mini as a replacement, but the Minis don't have RAID capabilities. The Mac Mini will work great for small server applications, but not those that need more power. The French Website MacGeneration sent an email asking Steve Jobs why. Steve respond, by saying “Hardly anyone was buying them”. Now I know the Xserve does not have the volume of an iPad, iPhone or even a iMac, but I don’t buy the fact that they were not selling. The Xserve is a solution to those who want to run the Mac OS in the server environment. As of January 1, that will no longer be possible.
Is this a move away from the professional or business user? No, Apple discontinued the Xserve because it was not worth their time to develop the hardware. With the long wait for Aperture 3 and the big delay for Final Cut, Apple is continuing to show they are more focused on the consumer than the professional. The new OS 10.7 Lion are nice, but they are adding more consumer features, not the professional ones. The professional may not be the bread and butter for Apple as it was before the iPod, but that does not mean Apple should stop focusing on them. Apple needs the professionals to develop the iOS apps, create iTunes content and just generally buy or recommend Apple products. A lose of the professionals would be bigger than just the sales of the professional products.
Apple could license the Mac OS to someone like VMware as vitalization is the future for server technology, but don’t see Apple doing this. We will not see legal non-Apple hardware running the Mac OS while Steve Jobs is running the company, even though many hope they will. Apple needs to give more focus to the professional to keep them on the Mac. The best way for Apple to do this is by creating a division (or a spin off company) that can focus on solutions for the professional and business user. They should move their Mac Pro hardware and Final Cut, Aperture, Logic, and other professional software into this division. This new division would then give the focus to the professionals that they need to keep them on the Mac. It would also free up Apple to keep their focus on the consumer instead of have to switch back and forth.
When the iPad first came out, many people speculated whether the it could compete against the current line of notebooks. Apple told us that the iPad fit in-between the iphone and Macbook product line-up and this is where the notebooks market is. When people are looking at buying a notebooks, they are either wanting a cheap or a small and light computer. Most notebooks are small and cheap, but the computer part is their weakness. Yes, they run desktop application, but they run them very slowly.
We find out this week that Microsoft admits the iPad is not only competing against the notebooks, but cannibalizing notebooks sales. Tablet sales are up 26% percent with the iPad taking 95% of the market. Netbook demand sinks 80% in October surgery results. The same surgery showed that 95% of iPad users are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their device. Analysts are predicting that Apple will sell as much as 48 million iPads in 2011. Clearly, the iPad is not only competing against the netbook, it is destroying the competition. The iPad is cheap at $499, it is light 1.5 pounds, and it is small. The iPad is the first punch against the notebook market. Now, is the iPad a computer?
The iPad runs applications from the app store and if you can find the applications for the stuff you do, then yes it is. If you need to run desktop applications, then no it is not the computer for you, yet. In the beginning of October, Apple release an new version of the Macbook Air. The Macbook Air is twice the price of the iPad and does not have a hard drive or optical drive. The Macbook Air is underpowered compared to the current MacBooks except for the solid state drive. A solid state drive uses flash memory instead of spinning disks to storage information on your computer. The Macbook Air comes in two sizes; 11-inch and 13-inches. The 11-inch version has either a 64GB or 128GB Solid state drive. The Air is small and light at 2.3 pounds. Is the Air fast enough?
The key to the Air it not the processor, but the solid state drive. Hard drives are the biggest bottle neck in the computer, adding a much faster solid state drive, makes the computer much faster. Commentators were not sure about the speed as it runs a slower Core 2 Duo Processor. The Air is not a netbook by performance, it does have a real desktop processor compared to notebooks which use a slower ATOM processor. Those who have had a chance to use the Air though are raving over the performance. It is definitely fast enough for most desktop tasks. You may not be editing the next Cars movie on it, but for most tasks, it will be fast enough. If you are looking at a netbook because it is cheap, you are not going to get an Air, as the price starts at $999. If you are looking for a netbook that is light and small and runs desktop applications, the Macbook Air is the best choice. The Macbook Air is the second punch against the netbook market. Look for the Macbook Air to be a huge seller in the next year as it is fast enough for 90% for the users looking at buying a laptop. Put the iPad and Macbook Air together, and you have a one, two punch that will knock out the netbook market.