What has been absent is enough excitement to suggest the MacBook Air will be anything more than a modest-selling product that let Apple introduce/test some new features while, at the same time, convincing some people such as Martha Stewart to pay a sweet premium for it.
In that sense, the MacBook Air may not be Apple’s 21st century version of the Newton but it may go down as one of Steve Jobs’ less inspired creations. The same could be said for Apple TV, which has failed to resonate with consumers even after Apple did something highly unusual by dropping its price.
Maybe Apple has finally hit a creativity lull after many years of introducing hit after hit – much like a rock band can lose its mojo after producing a string of fantastic albums. Truth be told, it was bound to happen to Apple given the iPod and the MacBook have set the bar so high. Anything less spectacular will look disappointing – sort of like the reaction when Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” album sold only seven million copies after its debut album, “Boston”, sold 17 million.
Aside from the MacBook Air’s lack of sizzle, another puzzling issue is how the MacBook Air seems to be over-engineered and, as a result, more expensive to build than it needs to be. The Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad recently took part the three-pound Air and, among other things, discovered it has a huge number of screws to attach components, including 30 for the keyboard.
“If I proposed such a design, our company would never approve it,” one of the engineers told Tech-On, while another said “I can’t find anything that is technically superior. We can make the same computer at a lower cost”.
Maybe as Robert Cringely suggests, there’s bigger things in play strategically, and the MacBook Air is just a part of the puzzle whose role will become clear in the years to come. In the meantime, the MacBook Air could be one of those products that, in theory, looks good but fails to gain much commercial ground.
Update: Speaking of laptops, Engadget reports Sony is offering people interested in buying its TZ200 the option of not having “crapware” on the machine. The downside is this option costs $49.95, which appears to be a rip-off more than being consumer-friendly. What marketing geniuses come up with these programs?