Yesterday’a revamping of Apple’s MacBook product line resulted in a product portfolio curiosity. Apple’s notebook lineup now varies about as much by girth as it does by screen size. MacBooks remain available in three screen sizes but the 13″ model is also available in three thicknesses — the ultrathin MacBook Air, the slim MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and the classic MacBook Pro with SuperDrive (unbranded as such). Of course, there are other differences among these models such as storage options, ports and screen resolutions. Still, the MacBook line now can be thought of as having three sub-lines: Air, Pro and Pro with Retina Display.
Making them even more like product lines, they tend to have similarities across the screen sizes. While the Air and Retina lines both lack optical drives, the former is obviously engineered for the ultimate in portability and a cloud-friendly lifestyle while the latter is for the leading-edge power user, with the non-Retina Pros playing very much in the mainstream. As Phil Schiller noted, the 13″ MacBook Pro is Apple’s best-selling notebook and seems likely to remain so after its Retina-equipped sibling.
The potential of this seems rather murky. Obviously, there are several office suite alternatives already for the iPad as well as remote desktop solutions. And even if there were a more concerted effort between Apple and VMWare to offer hosted Microsoft Office, there would still be a place for the popular office suite on the iPad, even in the enterprise.
Of course, such a native version would have to closer to a Windows 8-style app implementation than the current “touch-optimized” but fundamentally desktop-style version. The next version of Office will likely be offered in a Windows 8-style version as an option, much like Internet Explorer.
Most coverage that we’ve seen of the rumored iPad mini notes that it won’t have a Retina Display. There is, however, a counterargument. Clearly, Apple has been on a Retina tear (although hopefully without any actual torn retinae) as it has become a defining and increasingly anticipated feature crossing many product lines: MacBook, iPhone and iPod. If Apple was willing to put a Retina Display on the iPod touch, why wouldn’t it put one on the iPad mini? The technology is clearly available. The display on the imminent Barnes & Noble Nook HD is Retina-sharp. Adding credence to this is rumors that the iPad mini may start at $329, which would be relatively high for the sub-8″ tablet category even given that Apple is profitable (and quite) on hardware. Pulling off a Retina Display iPad mini at $299 would be a coup.
Companies keep trying to affix touchscreens to our refrigerators and develop more infomercial-friendly variations of the blender, but the kitchen still remains a relatively low-tech sanctuary. Even as we hurtle toward a Wall-E-era existence of complete automation and leisure, the simple joys of preparing a meal in one’s own kitchen can be invigorating.
My latest Backed or Whacked column for TechCrunch examines three Kickstarter funding campaigns for kitchen gadgets.
Apparently, the sticky widget was whether to include a qualifier to distinguish between 4L and 8K, which was dropped. Of course, today there are a few pricey 4K TVs on the market. As with the early days of HD, content is mostly confined to upscaled discs (Blu-ray these days) and photos.
It would be odd to see Apple go back to the same well from which it drank up Lala, but Color hit on some emerging phenomena such as introductions and (live) video sharing that will undeniably become more important.