jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

The New MacBook

The tech world is once again loosing their grip after Apple has gone, as they see it, too far, too fast with the new MacBook. They can think of a thousand reasons why the Mac’s single USB-C port is a deal-breaker for any sane person. The single port is too restrictive. What if I want to hook up a USB mouse while I’m charging? Why isn’t there a removable battery? Why can’t I expand the storage? Less space than a Nomad. Lame.

The thing to keep in mind about the new Mac is the lack of a “Pro” moniker at the end of the name. The distinction between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro is the difference between a person who needs to hook up their Mac to two or three displays and one who needs a computer to write emails and read Buzzfeed. It’s the difference between someone who takes the time to research and understand exactly what “USB-C” means, and someone who chooses to see the machine as a tool that allows them to do things that have nothing to do with computers.

It would be easy to assume that this is not a computer for geeks.

But it can be. Perhaps the more accurate description is that this computer is not for gadget geeks. Leonardo da Vinci is quoted as saying “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Apple pursues both simplicity and sophistication in all their products, pushing the public and the industry to abandon awkward technologies before they are comfortable. The floppy disk, the CD-ROM drive, and now all ports but one. Apple understands that technology is at it’s best when it is virtually invisible. When it can integrate deeply and easily into our everyday lives without asking us to make accommodations for it. I’m a Unix geek, and I can tell you that as long as this Mac runs OS X, it can absolutely be a computer for geeks.

It can also be a computer for postage stamp collectors, and bird watchers, and students, and people into following celebrities, and sports fans, home brewers, dog lovers, cat lovers, athletes… in general, people. This may not be the right machine for you if you want to connect it to your USB keyboard, hard drive, printer, and scanner all at once. Not that that’s wrong in any way, it’s just that this particular Mac is not the right tool for the job. Simply because the MacBook isn’t the right tool for this job though is not going to stop it from selling in the millions.

There are a few reasons you might not want to buy this generation MacBook though. It is less powerful and more expensive than a MacBook Air, although that is offset by the Retina display. The new trackpad has no moving parts, and I’m a bit skeptical of how it will feel and perform over long periods of use, at least in the first generation. Subsequent generations of this machine, in this form factor are going to get better, and most likely less expensive. I expect in a few years for this Mac to start at $999.

Apple is moving in new directions, so I’m glad they are still doing interesting things with the Mac. The new MacBook is a beautiful piece of hardware, and an impressive technical accomplishment. On those merits, I expect it will do well.