Response to PowerPage Counterpoint

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2006, 13:49
Category: Uncategorized

Scott raises some interesting points. By Apple continuing to control all Mac hardware unilaterally, one weakness in the Mac platform is that all CPUs come from one source: Apple. Unlike the Windows domain, if Apple doesn’t see fit to produce it, it likely will not be made.
Case in point: look at all the funky tablet-style laptops with twist-around LCDs. While one could argue this is an unproven niche market (or worse, quite possibly a fad), the fact that all Mac hardware comes from one source means if Apple doesn’t devote the resources to entering such a niche/fad, Mac users will never see it. Of course, there are some really weird niche products in the Windows domain that Mac users can live without: notebooks that still weigh over 8 pounds come to mind.
Perhaps Apple would argue that cloning didn’t work in the mid-1990’s. Maybe it simply wasn’t in Apple’s best interest to allow cloning to continue. As for the notion of a laptop “nano”, I could see Apple entering that market IF flash memory catches up with hard disks to the point where laptops don’t need HDDs anymore. I’m still dubious about a computer without an optical drive, though.
One point where I will disagree with Jason is on FireWire. I do not see any evidence of that technology’s “death”, immediate or pending. I would think the evidence Jason points to (iPods going USB-only, MacBook Pro with only one FireWire 400 port and no FW800 to be found) can be interpreted very differently. iPods and FireWire are nice, but Apple’s key to wooing users of cheap, crappy PCs to buying the little music players was the advent of USB 2.0. As for the MacBook Pro, I can tell you that those who use multiple FireWire peripherals have discovered the hard way that it is best to “split the bus”, in other words, if a notebook user has a digital camcorder and a FireWire hard disk that (s)he wants to use at the same time, the card slot on the MacBook is a welcome means of having an extra FireWire input that isn’t competing for bandwidth on the same bus as the MacBook’s built-in FireWire port.
On Scott Shephard’s “Inside Mac TV” video podcasts for Jan. 5, 2006 (“Getting the Mac Ready for Video Editing”) and Dec. 23, 2005 (“Gary Adcock’s Dual FireWire Bus Tip”), Scott discusses ways to use either separate FireWire buses or both FireWire and USB to improve performance during video editing. This makes both FireWire and USB indispensable to amateur video editors.
So what does all this suggest about FireWire vs. USB, and why is there no FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro? Simply put, Jason is right and wrong at the same time. The absence of FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro is a statement about FireWire. Apple is just not saying what Jason concluded. The lack of additional FireWire ports (or FireWire 800) was Apple’s way of saying “if you need more ports or if you need FireWire 800, buy a card and use it on the card’s bus.”
I am doubtful that FireWire 400 will die any time soon. Too many camcorders, hard disks, and high-end peripherals use it, some of them exclusively. If FireWire is to be replaced with a new standard, you will hear plenty of noise being made by a broad coalition of big-name players in the camcorder and computer peripheral manufacturing industries.
Just my 2 cents. You can wake up now.


Scott raises some interesting points. By Apple continuing to control all Mac hardware unilaterally, one weakness in the Mac platform is that all CPUs come from one source: Apple. Unlike the Windows domain, if Apple doesn’t see fit to produce it, it likely will not be made.
Case in point: look at all the funky tablet-style laptops with twist-around LCDs. While one could argue this is an unproven niche market (or worse, quite possibly a fad), the fact that all Mac hardware comes from one source means if Apple doesn’t devote the resources to entering such a niche/fad, Mac users will never see it. Of course, there are some really weird niche products in the Windows domain that Mac users can live without: notebooks that still weigh over 8 pounds come to mind.
Perhaps Apple would argue that cloning didn’t work in the mid-1990’s. Maybe it simply wasn’t in Apple’s best interest to allow cloning to continue. As for the notion of a laptop “nano”, I could see Apple entering that market IF flash memory catches up with hard disks to the point where laptops don’t need HDDs anymore. I’m still dubious about a computer without an optical drive, though.
One point where I will disagree with Jason is on FireWire. I do not see any evidence of that technology’s “death”, immediate or pending. I would think the evidence Jason points to (iPods going USB-only, MacBook Pro with only one FireWire 400 port and no FW800 to be found) can be interpreted very differently. iPods and FireWire are nice, but Apple’s key to wooing users of cheap, crappy PCs to buying the little music players was the advent of USB 2.0. As for the MacBook Pro, I can tell you that those who use multiple FireWire peripherals have discovered the hard way that it is best to “split the bus”, in other words, if a notebook user has a digital camcorder and a FireWire hard disk that (s)he wants to use at the same time, the card slot on the MacBook is a welcome means of having an extra FireWire input that isn’t competing for bandwidth on the same bus as the MacBook’s built-in FireWire port.
On Scott Shephard’s “Inside Mac TV” video podcasts for Jan. 5, 2006 (“Getting the Mac Ready for Video Editing”) and Dec. 23, 2005 (“Gary Adcock’s Dual FireWire Bus Tip”), Scott discusses ways to use either separate FireWire buses or both FireWire and USB to improve performance during video editing. This makes both FireWire and USB indispensable to amateur video editors.
So what does all this suggest about FireWire vs. USB, and why is there no FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro? Simply put, Jason is right and wrong at the same time. The absence of FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro is a statement about FireWire. Apple is just not saying what Jason concluded. The lack of additional FireWire ports (or FireWire 800) was Apple’s way of saying “if you need more ports or if you need FireWire 800, buy a card and use it on the card’s bus.”
I am doubtful that FireWire 400 will die any time soon. Too many camcorders, hard disks, and high-end peripherals use it, some of them exclusively. If FireWire is to be replaced with a new standard, you will hear plenty of noise being made by a broad coalition of big-name players in the camcorder and computer peripheral manufacturing industries.
Just my 2 cents. You can wake up now.

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