Jun 25, 2010

The New Apple: "Mac" is out, "i-Product" is in

Apple's new 4G iPhone has just been released and already it's breaking sales records with the media quoting Apple's stats as the launch date being, "the most successful launch of any Apple product to date...".  How wonderful for the billion-dollar mega-computing giant.

But the apparent initial success of this new "i-Toy" not totally surprising; ever since the introduction of the iTunes and then the iPod Apple has been on a skyrocketing trajectory of popularity with consumers which recently went to fever pitch with the release of the iPad.  And now with the iPhone 4G consumer interest in Apple i-Products it's most likely reached critical mass:  How could Apple possibly out-do itself now with this much unfettered success?  One way would be to get back to what used to be the core of Apple's business, it's Macintosh-based hardware and software offerings.

To wit, several of Apple's products - which still sell well and are highly popular - have all but gone ignored by "Father Jobs" as he's clearly spent the lion-share of Apple's resources and attention with the iPad and iPhone development and marketing, leaving many of Apple's Macintosh line customers feeling left out in the cold and wondering if there's anything new on the horizon for them outside of the gooey, glossy world of i-Products.

Two cases in point, the iLife and iWork mini-suites.  Typically (albeit not *always*) Apple releases updates to those applications at least once a year.  We're now solidly through half of 2010 and both the those i-suites are still on their '09 versions with no hint of an update on the horizon.

For professionals things are even more bleak; the Final Cut Studio professional video editing suite is now  2.5 generations behind it's competitors, namely Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid, in it's feature set and competitive offerings.  And although FCP version 7 was released not too long ago it was merely a service pack rather than a suite-wide refresh of what's quickly becoming an aging application.  In fact, at the NAB convention in '07 Adobe and others took a giant leap forward in front of Final Cut by offering Blu-Ray authoring and a few other very cool features that to date Final Cut is still incapable of.

But the video pros aren't the only ones feeling the pain, Logic was supposed to have been given a refresh also only to find out that the "update" never happened and it too is lagging behind it's pro competitors.

Speaking of Blu-Ray, Apple remains the *only* company on the planet who still refuses to play nice with the only high-definition disc format available.  Those who are technically oriented will well remember the duel between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray with BR coming out the clear winner.  Yet 3 years later and Steve Jobs still considers  Blu-Ray "a bag of hurt" and refuses to adopt the format into Mac OS X.  PC's have been playing Blu-Ray discs ever since the first BR drives became available what... 5 years ago now?

Do you have a MacBook Pro and constantly get comments about how "gorgeous" it is.  And do those same people seem astounded that the most beautiful and "technologically advanced laptop ever made"... *can't* play a Blu-Ray disc?  Now doesn't that just seem ludicrous?  It does to me.

And about those uber-gorgeous, glossy-screened "pro" laptops Apple touts as being so technically advanced:  Do you know that they lack professional connections currently available on more than 80% percent of PC laptops and, that they still do not have a second internal hard-disk, not even in the most expensive 17" inch option?

And by the way, creative professionals especially who are in film, video or photography DO NOT want a glossy screen throwing glare and reflections back in their faces when trying to do critical VISUAL work.  No, we need matte or "anti-glare" screens, as Apple now calls it.  Before the unibody MacBook Pro that anti-glare screen was the default choice; now you have to PAY an additional fee to NOT have a glossy screen.  WTF??  Really?!  Why is that?

Well, it's all because Steve Jobs wants all Apple products to be "gorgeous".  How they look externally is far more important than actual functionality.  The laptops look more like iPhones or even iPads all the time and that's purposeful, not coincidence.

So what's happening in Apple-land?  Why are Mac-based products becoming so goofy and software suites going without updates for such a long period of time?  It's all because Apple has transformed itself away from computers, indeed they changed the company name from "Apple Computer" to simply "Apple", and instead are now nearly 100% focused on it's iProduct offerings.

Indeed, why shouldn't Apple become tunnel-visioned on it's i-Toys?  It is in point of fact where their billions of dollars are being made and with each new i-Product release their market-share in consumer electronics grows by leaps and bounds.  The downside unfortunately is that many of their Macintosh based products are now either aging and behind the curve or, as in the case with laptop design, are so overly aesthetic-centric that functionality and usability suffers.

So what's a Mac-user to do?  Not much unfortunately.  Unless there's a massive migration away from Macintosh hardware/software back to Windows platforms Steve Jobs simply won't have an incentive to refocus his attention to the Mac platform.

But then again, maybe personal computers and professional software are just no longer part of the Apple business model.  I mean, you can email, take photos, shoot and edit video and browse the web all on the new iPhone.  So who needs a computer and pro-level software anyway.  I mean, according to Steve Jobs, YouTube plays HD videos so nobody really wants or needs a Blu-Ray player either.

Right?  Ugh.

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