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Thoughts/Followup on Macbook Air

I wanted to take a moment to reaffirm what I had stated in the previous post on Macbook Air, and to respond to some criticism about my thinking. Now that it’s actually been released, and we’ve actually seen it, I hope to explain my ideas in greater depth (while, presumably, being a little less long-winded!).

So we didn’t get inductive charging--yet--and we didn’t get an always-on wireless connection. What we did get is 802.11n, a wider-range wireless standard, a backlight keyboard, and dimensions even less than we expected. The Macbook Air fits in a manilla envelope, for God’s sake. It’s got more than its fair share of design compromises, but it’s also got a virtually unheard-of flexibility.

Going back to why I was convinced of the importance of this product, it’s essentially because we will very soon be entering a world in which cords simply don’t exist. The internet has already reduced physical space requirements dramatically: what we’re seeing now is design beginning to reflect our innately human need to move and be and do, wherever we are.

This is not about computers getting “thin”--it’s about the fact that computers begin to be built and thought of as entirely mobile objects, divorced from their essentially corded and enmeshed beginnings. And the Macbook Air is a design I see encapsulating that trend. Not in its current state, or even in a few subsequent revisions, but it is a “look” that is already strangely iconic. It is quintessential. In much the way that the original Mac just felt “different” to be around--more human, more conscious--this feels like a radically new paradigm. Stop thinking of this as just another design update and start thinking of the technology that will eventually make its way into something that looks and behaves exactly like this. WiMax, the aforementioned inductive charging-- all of these are technical updates. What matters it that the body now exists where, I have no doubt, all these technologies will converge.

That said, I don’t think I’ll be buying one due to its specs at this moment; I need at least double the hard drive space if I’m going to do much photo work on a laptop, and the lack of Firewire is disappointing (if somewhat warranted). But I stand by my previous post: this is the beginning of something really extraordinary.

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