Remember the Alamo? Remember the Titanic? Remember the Cube? All were disasters.
Apple’s elegant but over priced work of art, the Cube, may be the only blemish on Apple’s 21st century record. Until now. Will people remember the MacBook Air?
This morning I read a CNET blog that said, rather straightforwardly, ‘The MacBook Air is the Cube 2.0.’ Harsh words considering not too many people have their hands on Apple’s skinny notebook.
For switchers and those of us from Mac past, Apple’s Cube was a beautiful computer circa 2000 or so. It came with a PowerPC G4 encased in luxuriously chic clear plastic.
As Macs go, it was a big flop. Under powered, under configured, over designed, and over priced. The $1,799 price tag was not too far from a PowerMac G4 which came with oodles of expansion capability.
The Cube was hundreds more than an iMac which came with a built-in screen. The screen was extra on the Cube, though the clear plastic design matched the cube perfectly. Reviews were great, lust was high, sales were low. No, lower than low. The Cube flopped.
Comparisons of the skinny and sleek MacBook Air and the Cube of yesteryear are to be expected. Apple hasn’t had a dud product in years, so some say they’re due to be tripped up.
Is the MacBook Air to become Apple’s Waterloo in 2008, or simply something that belongs in a loo, to be flushed and forgotten.
Make no mistake. The argument comparing the two, Apple’s disastrous but elegant Cube, and the elegant but (insert your description here) MacBook Air is a good one. Only time and sales, or lack of, will tell us whether the argument has legs, or whether the MacBook Air has legs.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about comparisons of this vs. that, it’s this—that was then and this is now.
The only true similarities are the price. $1,799 and the manufacturer, Apple. The Cube of 2000 was horribly overpriced and underpowered and under equipped. Relative to similar ultra portables, the MacBook Air is competitive, though a bit under equipped.
Therein is the key. MacBook Air is not the Cube. It’s not targeted at the same market (2nd Mac for travelers), doesn’t have the same use (desktop vs. notebook), and is competitively priced.
Back in the day, Apple sold more desktop Macs than notebook Macs. Today that’s not the case. Back in the day, Apple sold far less Macs than are sold today, making a niche product more profitable.
Back in the day, the Cube had nowhere to go. It was small and beautiful, yes, but so what? The Cube had nothing else going for it. Nothing. Compare that to the slim, svelte, and less expensive, more utilitarian MacBook Air. Air has a screen. Air has more RAM. Air is wireless. Air is fast. Air runs OS X Leopard.
Importantly, MacBook Air is not aimed at a Mac user as their only Mac. It’s not a desktop replacement (not that there’s anything wrong with that), though it could, but why?
Apple probably knows more about their customers than we, their customers, now about ourselves. How many of us have an iMac or PowerMac or MacPro AND a PowerBook, or MacBook, or MacBook Pro?
We do. Not everyone. It’s likely to be a healthy number, a real life market segment, but still not the average notebook owner.
Why do some Mac users have both a desktop and a notebook? Because we travel and we want our Macs to come with us. Duh. That’s me. That’s Wil. That’s Bambi. That’s Alex, and Ron, and Carol, and Jack. In fact, the more we Mac users travel, for those of us who who two Macs, one on the desk, one to go, the MacBook Air looks attractive.
Don’t think that Apple didn’t devote a lot of time thinking about the potential of the MacBook Air line. Small is beautiful, right? The Cube had nowhere to go and it didn’t. The MacBook Air v1.0, looks pretty good. What will version 2.0 become? My guess is smaller, more powerful, and that makes it even more attractive.
If CNET is willing to stir up a little controversy and pour some cold water on the MacBook Air, then I’m willing to Think Different and say to would-be prognosticating comparisonists, ‘that was then and this is now.’ Air is not a Cube.