Apple makes a move "back to the Mac"
The MacBook Air has never been the most up-to-date computer. The first iteration of the Air was a low powered, tiny computer that was only useful to those referred to as "Road Warriors." The computer was also ahead of it's time due to it's need for a standard configuration that included a solid state drive, instead of a normal hard disk drive. Unfortunately, even though the standard configuration now includes solid state storage, the MacBook Air is not really all that different in what it offers to general consumers, while it lacks the software that could differentiate it from the crowded netbook arena.
Steve Jobs and crew held a press conference on Wednesday morning at their campus in Cupertino, California to discuss the state of the Mac. A few interesting metrics and ninety minutes later, the world was introduced to an updated version of Apple's iLife software suite, a forthcoming operating system revision, codenamed Lion (Mac OS X 10.7), and the new Macbook Air. Each of these new ventures had two things in common, however: the iPad and iOS. Apple has made it clear over the last year that iOS, the iPhone, and the iPad are the future of computing, so why not port the best features from these successes over to the desktop counterpart? Lion, along with the improvements made to the Air, would make that possible.
Here's the dilemma: Lion will not be available until the summer of next year and the MacBook Air's new improvements are moot due to that fact. The Air will be stronger and more versatile, in particular the new 11.6" model, when the power of the iOS ecosystem can be harnessed. The features in Lion that can make this happen? Full screen apps, Launchpad, and Mission Control. Full screen apps and Mission Control are the two that Apple focused on when discussing the new OS due to the fact that they work hand in hand. Full screen apps provide a new idea of how applications should be laid out on a computer, which allows the user to focus on one application at a time, much like iOS. Mission Control allows the user of these full screen apps to quickly and effectively switch between apps and windows with a zoomed out view that also incorporates some of Apple's other, older technologies: Dashboard, Expose, and Spaces.
While Snow Leopard is a great OS, it will not allow the MacBook Air to thrive since the new features of Lion will be taking advantage of the idea of a smaller-screened Mac. The main gripes I have heard about netbooks and the worry of much of the technology community is the screen will be cramped and unusable for the majority of tasks. Also, the pricing is more competitive on the 13" Air. The question ends up being whether now is a good time to buy or wait for the release of Lion and the true birth of the ultimate portable Mac.