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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Air's Whisper is Louder than Loud

(Updated/Edited with more links) Was there something special in the air? Steve Jobs' Macworld Keynote for 2008 of course, as was expected, wouldn't top last year's supersonic boom of an announcement that was iPhone. It didn't have to. This year's Macworld Keynote was more subtle like a whisper that spoke volumes than speaking loudly could ever do (even if it may have broken the Interwebs, for just a bit).

Air is most important, was the message. Everything from Media to work is now traveling through the air and the movement of Media in particular is heralding a fundamental shift in how Content Providers are thinking about their customers. Hard media like Blu-Ray, HD-DVDs, DVDs is a thing of the past--- begin deleting them from your vocabulary. Forget about them. 
Apple's announcement of movie rentals is good. Especially, if you're in the US and for the rest of us, signals what the world will be like in a few years. Apple TV take 2, is the kind of product that will replace your DVD and maybe one day, the Movie house as well. Computers are no longer needed and that's just awesome. 
What was really glossed over, and what was more important was the fact that Content Providers are starting to stop thinking of their Customers as criminals but as consumers. At least for Fox. For example, the new Family Guy-Star Wars Disc that came out, it'll have already a digital copy that you can transfer to your computer. That I think speaks volumes: DRM is dead and that Consumers are no longer the enemy. 
Why do I say this.  Isn't it perfectly legitimate that as a consumer who buys a DVD, that i'd like to watch the said content on my computer, on my ipod, on my phone? That it should be perfectly legitimate to rip a Child's CD so that the kids can watch it over and over without them scratching the disc? Ripping it off so i can view content that i bought legally, should be perfectly legal, shouldn't it be?
Laws like what this proposed legislation by the Philippine Senate (particularly Senator Angara) will no longer be necessary because Content gets in the hands of people. Who needs to spend hours ripping a dvd, when it's already on the disc that you've got, legitimately? With the message that we saw today, hard media like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD is dead.
The new Macbook Air--- the world's thinest notebook doesn't have an Optical/DVD drive. it doesn't need it.  Need to install something? I hardly use it myself. Though having remote disc is hardly new or innovative, i've been doing it for years, shutting back and forth my linux server and my mac. though not as cool or as easy as what Apple has done. Simply put in the DVD to your friendly neighborhood Mac or PC and boom! Your Macbook Air can install it over wirelessly.  
The new laptop has some gestures in its multitouch trackpad, which i think is just the first step into getting Multi-touch on laptops and desktops. But my big question, is the same trackpad going to find itself into the bigger Macbook Pro or the Air's sister Macbook? Is it simply a software update that existing trackpads can be configured to use? 
The Air isn't the most powerful piece of machine on the planet. At its basic 1.6Ghz Core 2 Processor, it's got enough power for the basic stuff: drive your presentations, write stuff, watch movies. (Ars Technica has the gory details for those of you interested in the Macbook Air's New Processor). 
The Air doesn't even have enough storage for Media at 80GB or the 64GB Solid State option. I mean, swap already takes 15gb off my 160gb hard drive. OS X say has 10GB, apps another 10GB, and media another 10GB. That's 50% already of that 80GB hard drive. not much space left is there?  Stretching it a bit: maybe The Air can do a bit of photoshop since it runs off an Intel X3100 with 144MB shard memory video card. The Air comes with 2GB Ram, and a quick trip to the Apple Store has revealed you can't upgrade this option. 
The new Macbook Air isn't a powerhouse but its sweet spot is that it excels at being mobile. It fits inside a Manila envelope! It's so light and thin, it's undocumented feature could be, send it flying through the air like a Frisbee. It could be that stepping stone for that truly innovative ultramobile PC, with new apps for the iphone and ipod touch--- is a very tantalizing preview of what's next.
Was there something in the air? You bet. This year's Macworld Keynote message is more subtle than last year's.  With content moving away from hard media to being distributed via networks and in between computers and devices wirelessly now than ever before and with content providers beginning to think of their Consumers as customers rather than criminals, Old Media is starting to understand New Media. Everything from content to notebooks thin and light is now in the air.  Air's whisper is louder than loud. 

*image is the new Macbook Air from Apple's website.