Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacBook Air, Foleo, iFoleo? And what now of iTunes Sync with a skimpy HD?

One of the writers over at Gizmodo got it right with what I've been saying all day since Apple publicly released the MacBook Air - this thing looks an awful lot like the failed Palm Foleo that became Palm's "Jump the Shark" moment this past year despite pulling it just one day before it made it to store shelves.  I suppose somewhere there were a bunch of unused ultra thin magnesium cases that were slated to become Foleos and someone at Apple saw an opportunity.

But on the other end, on the surface this appears to be a very cool product - not iPhone cool, but certainly the sort of computer that will turn heads when placed on a desk.  I'm imagining that the true target market for this thing now is high end execs looking for a little wow factor for those business meetings.  I mean, it's clearly not a consumer driven machine and not going to be a great multimedia processing machine for media crunchers or web developers so they're going after the ultraportable execs who bought a Vaio TZ150N or Dell XPS M1330.  It will be interesting to see how the MBA rates against those in terms of battery life, efficiency, etc. and how reviewers like the low form-factor keyboard. 

Another thought that I had in observing that this thing does not have an onboard optical drive is that, obviously for traveling execs, you won't be able to play DVDs on this thing.  "That's OK," you (or Apple) say, "you can get all your entertainment and movies directly through the iTunes store and save it directly to the hard drive." 

All 80 GB of it.  Which is about the same size as the iPod classic now sans OS.  And Leopard takes up 10 GB alone.  The point is, if iTunes "syncs" your music/video library with your iPod, it would be impractical to store your library on your MBA hard drive especially if you have an iPod with 40GB+ on it.  Impossible with 80GB or more (iPod classic).  So this is now a problem for the exec on the road who might want to plug in for a podcast or download a new tune now and then.

The challenge for Apple now is going to modify iTunes so that it treats the iPod hard drive like a real external HD and doesn't keep two copies of everything on each storage medium.  This is a sort of "Back to the Future" problem now where disk space is once again a premium issue.  I think there's real benefit to Apple officially unlocking the full external HD potential of the iPod.  Movies can be played off the iPod onto the MBA screen, an external device could link the iPod with AppleTV to exchange/drive media, and darn it, you could save some valuable disk space on your MBA.

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