Dancing on Air

DANCING ON AIR by Scott Budman

I’m typing this on the new MacBook Air.  It’s not, to be honest, a life-changing experience, but after trying to type with any kind of speed on an iPad, I can see why Apple found it necessary to update their “Air,” after version 1 was criticized for its low battery life.  


So far, this machine has been on for about four hours, and still has time to run.  Not bad, considering how super thin and light it is.  At $999 (and ranging up to $1599), this is a lot more than a Netbook, but then again, if you’re an Apple fan, you’ll want this full-blown operating system.  And, if you’re an Apple fan, you’ll probably be willing to pay a premium to use the full-blown OS.
Here’s a look at the new “Air”:  www.qik.com/budman

Which brings us to the state of Apple these days.  Yes, times have been good for a while now, what with its market value now the second largest in the entire world.  Only Exxon Mobil is worth more than Apple.  A few splits and a $300 share price will do that to you.    

But shareholders aren’t the only ones growing in number.  People who for years thought of themselves as cutting edge and different because they used Apples now look around the local coffee shop and see nothing but Macs.  Classroom?  Workplace? Public transit?   We’re surrounded by Macolytes.  One Apple executive told me the Mac now has 20 percent of the PC market.  20%??!!  I remember when Apple had 3 percent, and was defiantly proud about it.  Now, when was the last time any of us was on a plane, and counted more Dells, or HPs, than Macs. 


The Mac is truly mainstream.

Does that (finally) make it less cool?  Think about it:  Bands rarely stay cutting-edge after selling millions of albums.  Sure, it used to be kind of cool to be a Red Sox fan and complain about it, but now, after so much success, none of us want to hear it.  Remember that scene in the movie “Best In Show,” when the couple talks about how they met cute at Starbucks by glancing over each other’s Mac laptops?  A prophetic scene if there ever was one.

Apple sold 14 million iPhones over the last three months.  The 4 million iPads sold in the same time period – even after turning away countless would-be customers because of a shortage – was somehow considered a disappointment.  Add in all the iPods, not to mention the Macs, and Apple is now, let’s be honest, anything but cool.  Yes, the products are beloved and cool in their own way, but the company itself?  Huge.  Successful.  A juggernaut.  They even hold press conferences to talk about why their latest phone was being criticized.  And yet, if you believed them, you still couldn’t actually go buy one of the phones, because they were totally sold out – criticism be damned.


Bottom line:  Apple is firing on all cylinders, and deserves its high market cap.  Good for them.  They make great products.  I may have passed on the iPad, but if I traveled a lot for business, I just might pick up one of these MacBook Airs.  It works well.  And soon, it will get its own apps.  Apple just announced that its next operating system will be called “Lion.”  Someone sitting by me commented that, if you already have a Lion, what do you do for an encore in the cat family?  Apple may soon have to answer the same question.

[For more Scott Budman tech coverage, please visit www.nbcbayarea.com]


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