For all the noise that Apple makes about innovation, the company is decidedly more about evolution than revolution.
Revolutionary product advances seem to come every two or three years. In between are the evolutionary changes to the revolutionary products. The iPhone? That revolution started almost three years ago.
Since then? It’s mostly about polish and refinement—evolutionary changes. The Mac? The last revolution was overthrowing the dominant PowerPC line and switching the Mac to Intel’s chips. And running Windows. Today, the Mac marches to an evolutionary drummer.
The iMac Gets Bigger And Faster
Notebooks make up most of the Mac line today, but many Mac users still opt for a desktop model with more speed, bigger screen, and faster CPUs.
The new iMacs deliver a series of evolutionary advances. The new screens start at 21.5 inches and 27 inches. Both are LED backlit displays.
The basic 21.5 inch model starts at $1,199 and comes with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 500 gigabyte hard disk drive. After that, every iMac gets bigger or faster or both.
The high end 27-inch iMac starts at $1,999 but features a 1 TB hard drive, 512 MB of dedicated graphics GPU, and a 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 CPU. i5? As in quad core, not dual core. The 2.8GHz i7 quad core is optional.
Not only are these the fastest iMac models ever, they’re packed with goodies to justify the non-lowered price tag. 802.11n wireless. Bluetooth. FireWire 800 and 400. USB. Gigabit ethernet. LED backlit displays. SuperDrive.
And, evolutionarily speaking, an SD card slot, just like the MacBook Pro models. Oh, those displays? Full 24-bit color with 16:9 aspect ratio (1080p for the 21.5 inch model). But no matte, anti-glare screens. Turn off the lights in your office if you’re allergic to glare.
The MacBook Stays White & $999
Apple followers were hoping and praying for an iPad—the long awaited Mac tablet. Instead, Apple chose to extend the evolution of the less expensive MacBook line.
Taking cues from other Macs, the new MacBook’s price tag is not reduced, but battery life is extended to up to 7 hours. The MacBook Pro’s LED backlit display debuts, as does a unibody enclosure, though in white polycarbonate plastic instead of aluminum.
Clearly, Apple isn’t going revolutionary with what sells in big numbers. The new MacBook is a base model and nothing more. It’s a little lighter, a little thinner, and comes with a glass Multi-Touch trackpad and a 500 gigabyte hard drive. There’s 802.11n wireless. Bluetooth. Built-in iSight camera.
Wait! There’s not much more. The new MacBook comes with a MagSafe power port, gigabit Ethernet, a Mini DisplayPort, audio in/out, two USB ports, but no—repeat—no FireWire port. That’s somewhat revolutionary since it’s going backwards.
The All New Same Mac mini
The iMac gets hefty changes, the MacBook a few changes, and the Mac mini, the least expensive of desktop Macs, gets—- not much. It’s still $599 to start, comes with 802.11n wireless, more RAM, and not much else.
There’s 4 USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, a Mini DVI port and a Mini DisplayPort, and a FireWire 800 port. Apple provides an optional model with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server built in.
The Mac mini is popular as a low cost, low power server platform, and Apple made it a $999 package for the high end mini with OS X server software pre-installed, 4 gigs of RAM, and—get this—dual 500GB hard drives. That’s a bargain, but the extra hard drive takes up the space where the SuperDrive once was.
That Old White Magic Mouse
Ready for a revolution? Gone is Mighty Mouse (Apple’s first two-button mouse, which arrived 20 years after everyone else’s two-button mouse), replaced by a truly revolutionary approach to using a mouse.
Apple’s Magic Mouse aims to bring the iPhone, iPod touch, and MacBook Pro Multi-Touch input device to the masses.
Magic Mouse is sleek, slender, and the whole top surface of the mouse is the Multi-Touch area. Scroll in any direction. Swipe. Magic Mouse can tell the difference.
Touch the Multi-Touch surface to click. You won’t even need a mouse pad since Apple made Magic Mouse more sensitive and responsive on different surfaces than the Mighty Mouse predecessor.
The whole mouse is the button so clicking is reduced to tapping anywhere on the surface. Oh, did I mention there’s no mouse cord. Magic Mouse is Bluetooth wireless which helps to justify the new $69 price tag.
Apple’s progress toward the future is a mixture of revolutions every now and then coupled with evolutions everywhere else. I’ll do a full write up on the Magic Mouse when I can get my hands on one.
In the meantime, Apple appears content with moving the status quo into the future a step at a time.