Dispatches from Cupertino: Air and Lion

I’ve just returned from a whistlestop visit to Cupertino, CA, where I witnessed the unveiling of Apple’s delightfully dinky new 11.6in MacBook Air. It’s still pretty low-powered – the 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor is the same as my two-and-a-half-year-old MacBook Air – but the improved graphics chip helps it zing along for most portable computing tasks. And it really does live up to its name – it’s so small and light, you simply won’t notice it’s in your bag.

From the Keynote in Cupertino

Steve Jobs unveils the new MacBook Air

I think the new Air will sell better than its predecessor – while £850 is way more than comparable Windows netbooks, it’s cheap for a Mac. And people are willing to pay for these beautifully crafted slices of desire – as Steve Jobs was keen to point out, Apple now owns over 20% of the consumer PC market in the US (and probably a similar figure in the UK). That’s a massive change from the sub-5% share in the era before ‘i’.

Mac OS Lion

Mac OS Lion on the new MacBook Air

Even more interesting, though, was the sneak peak of Apple’s next Mac operating system, Lion. It incorporates a bunch of features that people love in the iPad and iPhone – including app-like fullscreen modes and a Mac App Store. I think it could be a real leap forward for computing, as I wrote on Stuff.tv:

With Lion, Apple aims to move beyond a standard window-and-mouse interface produce a joyful user experience that complements the company’s seductive hardware. This tactic will win little favour with the hardcore geeks who value function over eye-candy: but for the rest of us, it might just rekindle our love for the computer.

You can read the full piece over on www.stuff.tv