Apple has long been known as the technology industry’s design leader. Look around. What do you see? Windows PC notebooks look like the MacBook line. Android-based smartphones look like iPhones. Tablets look like the iPad.
For a few decades Apple’s designs have had an outsized influence over the tech industry. Which ever design Apple used, the industry followed along, sometimes down to the bit level, other times almost down to the atom. These days? Not so much. Microsoft has what Apple does not.
Always On & Connected
Two notable trends have come from the Windows PC and Chromebook world in the past few years. The first is inexpensive notebooks with detachable screen and keyboard combos which turn a notebook into a tablet. That segment of the PC market is the only one that is growing these days.
More recently, we’ve seen Microsoft take the lead with so-called always connected PCs; ultra thin, LTE enabled notebooks with double the battery life most of us get with our Mac notebooks. Many of these newer PC notebooks featured ARM CPUs which, like the ARM-based iPhone and iPad, sip batteries thanks to their low power pedigree. Yes, these PC notebooks have Wi-Fi, too, but there’s no need to use an iPhone or Android phone as a HotSpot because the 4G LTE is built in (extra cost per month, of course).
I can see why Apple doesn’t want to sell such a device. Instead, Apple makes products that work well together, and the iPhone can act as the HotSpot hub for both Mac and iPad (although there is a 4G LTE cellular option for iPad– just not for the Mac).
To be fair in the comparison, few of these always connected PCs are as powerful as a MacBook Pro, and they’re not likely to be used by Photoshop and Lighroom folks, or become endearing to Premiere and After Effects users, and certainly don’t compete against Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro X on the Mac, but as entry-level notebook-like devices which can double as a tablet and are always connected to the internet, they have more than a niche.
Always on, all day battery life is the future and Apple does not have a Mac model to compete. Microsoft says the criteria for such notebook tablet hybrids is obvious. More than 13 hours of battery life, LTE cellular modem, Windows 10s, thin and light, and not much else. Such models compete well in the gap between similarly equipped Chromebooks at the low end, and Mac notebooks at the high end– none of which have 4G LTE capability.
This is a segment of the industry which Apple could own, thanks to its own ARM-based A-series chips that power iPhone and iPad. Those chips compare favorably against benchmarks for entry-level MacBook Pro models, and Apple could use them in an always connected 4G LTE ARM-based hybrid device which delivers the best of iPad and Mac notebook.
I would buy one in a heartbeat.
Microsoft has what I want in a Mac notebook. Always on, always connected, thin and light, plus a detachable tablet.