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MacBook Air Attack

It's not perfect, but come on.

The Macalope knows the MacBook Air isn't perfect, but the amount of silly punditry it's attracting is seriously out of control.

First, did you know that the MacBook Air Lacks Features, Analysts Say (tip o' the antlers to the Rat Boy)?

It's true! And, according to squirrels, it lacks delicious nuts!

Well, pardon the Macalope for saying so, but dur-hey. He'd have to scroll through keynote again, but he's pretty sure that you don't need analysts to tell you that it "lacks features" because Steve Jobs actually said so. That "lack of features" is actually a feature.

The point is that because music, video and software are mostly being received wirelessly from the Internet in the digital wonderland in which we live, you really don't need them. The last time the Macalope used his optical drive was to install Leopard. Yes, you either need a USB optical drive or another Mac, but let's face it, at the MacBook Air's price, another $99 isn't going to bother you.

But PC World isn't the only place where you can chew the FUD.

Direct from the Canadian Ministry of Silly Punditry we learn that the MacBook Air may increase risk of laptop loss (tip o' the antlers to Colin Morton).

Indeed. The only way to ensure your laptop won't get stolen is to buy big fat honkin' ugly ones.

But, clearly, neither of those beats this gem from PC World's Mike Barton:

MacBook Air Amiss: Time to License Mac OS X?

Good question! Like "I Have Stubbed My Toe And Find It Painful: Time to Commit Suicide?"

With its focus on form over function...

Mike, if you knew the slightest thing about Apple or Steve Jobs, you'd know that form and function are inseparable.

But, please, continue.

... it is destined for the niche of early Apple adopters, sure to get burned on price and features when Apple upgrades to at least include a bigger hard drive than 80GB, ethernet, Firewire and a user-replaceable battery.

Predicting a laptop will one day have a bigger hard drive is like predicting death and taxes. But, with the possible exception of Firewire, Barton is wrong about the other three because they affect the size and weight and violate Steve Jobs' vision for shiny gadgets of the future.

Let's face it: Apple's done letting you get a new battery when the stock one won't hold a charge anymore and having you milk your device. Their philosophy is that you should be turning these suckers over every two years or so, partially because that's the rate of significant advancement for components. In two years, it's going to be out of date. You may not like that philosophy, but the Macalope's found it fits his personal buying pattern anyway so no big whoop.

The MacBook Air is not going to burn early adopters on features, but it might burn them on price. The Air is akin to the iPhone, in that it's "crippled" by lacking certain features you might have come to expect, but comes in a form factor not available in any competing product and it's priced at a premium.

The problem is, it's different from the iPhone because while Apple doesn't sell another phone, it does sell other laptops. If you go into an Apple Store to look at the Air, you're going to wonder if it's worth the premium over the MacBook, when the MacBook is faster.

That's why it also reminds the Macalope of another Apple product. What was that? If only he could put his hoof on it.

All that said, if you'd had the chance to lay your hooves on one of these as the Macalope has, you'd know that the MacBook Air is sexier than the cover of Herb Alpert's "Whipped Cream and Other Delights".

Oh, who is the Macalope kidding? There's nothing sexier than the cover of Herb Alpert's "Whipped Cream and Other Delights". But still, the MacBook Air is pretty damned sexy.

If you're a Mac user who travels a lot and/or is driven by style, do not need a lot of power and aren't terribly price sensitive, the Air is probably already singing its siren's song.

Clearly, as Macworld's Dan Frakes said, Apple has set its phasers to "niche".

But there's nothing wrong with that and it certainly doesn't excuse Barton's world-class jackassery.

I say let early adopters get burned. This product begs a bigger question of Apple: When will you stop holding back the Mac OS and start licensing the OS?

Uh, well, let's see. Wednesday's no good because Apple has meetings all day. Thursday it has to take its car in and nothing ever gets done on Friday, so...

How's never?

I like the Mac OS (which is more advanced than Windows)...

What's that even supposed to mean? That's like saying "I like butter (which is more advanced than motor oil)".

Well, no, it's not. While both can provide lubrication, one tastes better and the other works better in engines.

... and I love the idea of being able to have a dual boot Windows machine. I am not in the market for an ultraportable, but Apple doesn't offer one laptop I would buy.

Really? Not one of them? Why?

While the price parity issue has waned, the fact remains: Apple doesn't make a laptop under $1000.

Ohhh. You're cheap! Now the Macalope gets it!

I just bought a new ThinkPad R61i that cost me $600 delivered (just to show you the model I bought).

Aaaaiiii! It's horrible! Put it away! Put it away!

Ha-ha!

Seriously, though, that is one butt-ugly computer you got there. The Macalope is sure you two will be happy together.

But what about the future of personal computing -- will we always be subject to Apple's product whims?

Surely the company's entire product lineup was based on a series of whims.

Apple is missing so much opportunity to grow market share with the Mac OS.

Maybe it's not all that concerned with market share. Maybe it's concerned with profitability.

Nah, that would just be wacky.

Without it, Macs will struggle to warrant developers' time unfairly and remain a niche platform.

Mike Barton, providing the latest analysis from 1995.

Really, is there anyone out there using a Mac who's pining away for some Windows-only app, crying themselves to sleep at night because some vertical market sales force integration module for the dental field isn't on OS X? Doubtful.

And if Apple does not act soon to license the OS, the hacking community will gain critical mass...

Right. Because everyone wants a completely unsupported OS running on their laptops. That's certainly going to be a big hit in the home and in the enterprise.

With Apple on Intel and the genie out of the bottle with "hackintoshes" sprouting up, why doesn't Apple at least offer the Mac OS to business-focused companies...

"Business-focused companies"? As opposed to all those companies focused on what? Badminton?

... especially if it is going to continue to develop niche products like the MacBook Air when there are big holes in its lineup?

Yes, Apple will never have all the various kinds of products that Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony, etc. can offer. Want to know why? Because they get great margins on hardware. Who wants to give that up? And the Macalope hates to tell his good friends Leo Laporte and Merlin Mann this when they were just pining anew on Thursday afternoon, but the wait for a 12-inch MacBook is going to be awfully long. Like cosmically long. Like forever.

The good news is you're going to love the tablet.