Apple’s announcement today, the new Lion 10.7 Mac OS X with Multi-touch confirmed that as a politician Steve Jobs would be hopeless in the current political climate. Here was Steve Jobs telling his audience that they, Apple, have studied the problem and multi-touch just does not work on vertical screens – so Apple will not be bringing multi-touch screens to Mac desktop or laptops anytime soon. But the new 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Airs would have full multi-touch pad operations and iOs features but not until Mac OS/x 10.7 is released in the Summer of 2011. It is in effect an elitist move that would have Republicans, Fox News and Tea Partiers foaming at the mouth about “liberal elitists knowing better and stuffing multi-touch disabled computers down the public’s throat”.
Apparently, Apple has studied multitouch extensively and they say users will not like it on a vertical screen … your arms get tired. So once again, Steve Jobs and Apple decide what you can do with their hardware and software. No Flash, no Java and now no vertical screens on Macs to provide multi-touch operations. You will have to get a Microsoft Windows 7 PC if you want multi-touch on desktops or laptops. Apple has left multi-touch as another exclusive to Microsoft PCs having already conceded superior Graphics performance to Windows running on Mac hardware.
So for the price of the new11.6inch MacBook Air at $1200 [128GB Flash Hard Drive, 1.4GHz Core Duo CPU, 2GB of RAM] one can get an Acer Aspire AZ5700 with 1TB eSata Hard Drive plus 500GB Seagate Hybrid SSD , 3.2 GHz Core-5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, DVD Player and 23″ Multitouch screen desktop with Windows 7 Home Premium or an HP TouchSmart TM2-2150 laptop with 12.1″ swivel multi-touch screen [vertical or horizontal operation] with 500GB (7200RPM) SATA Hard Drive, 1.33GHz Core 3 CPU, and 8GB of RAM plus Windows 7 Home Premium plus battery life of 6 hours and weight of 4.5lbs . So the trade-off is:
Apple provides no Multi-touch screen operation, 1/2 the memory, 1/4 the Hard Diskspace , and roughly equal screen size and resolution. But the MacBook Air 11.6 delivers 20% better battery life, double the disk speed, and 1/2 the weight of the HP laptop [no attempt to compare graphic cards and capabilities]. Versus the Acer Aspire desktop, the new Macbook Air concedes no multi-touch screen operations, 1/2 the memory, 1/2 the screen size, 1/3 less screen resolution, 1/15th the hard disk space, no DVD player, and 1/2 the CPU speed of the desktop. Significantly, MacOS X has only about 1/8th the number of programs and apps available on Windows PCs. But the new Macbook Air is much lighter and much more mobile and has roughly 50% better disk speed than the Acer Aspire desktop which at 7 pounds is only semi-portable.
So once again, Apple has setup a competitive brawl of no small proportions. In the Smartphone market Apple must contend with Enterprise savvy RIM and “open” and faster software updates from Google’s Android. In the PC market, Apple’s Macs concede multi-touch, graphics performance, number of programs/apps and considerable bang for the buck versus better styling, safer and more secure OS, plus greater mobility and battery life. I suspect for the time being these multiple desirable optima mean that the competitors will co-exist. But this time next year, I can guarantee the slate of multiple optima will have changed and it will still be very hard to predict who will prevail.