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.
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’.
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.