With all the speculation and chatter about tablets eating into notebooks and desktops – Apple re-emphasized the importance of the Mac in their software and hardware ecosystem. The announcement today focused on software but also highlighted two new MacBook Air models (The smallest notebooks on the market), one starting at $999
Apple’s COO Tim Cook set the tone for the whole morning by stating the Mac business represents 33% of Apple’s revenue ($22 billion dollars). He put that in perspective and revealed that if the Mac business was a standalone company it would be listed #110 on the Fortune 500 list.
From my perspective a couple of things stood out to me about todays event. The first is around the next major OS release called “Lion” and particularly how Apple shared that they are cross promoting intellectual property across their ecosystem. This came out as Steve Jobs discussed how when building “Lion” they were asking questions about the iPhone and iPad and searching for ways that all their products could benefit each other.
Lion will contain many new features that enhance the usability of applications and even the core OS experience with a more robust multi-touch solution. This solution is not integrated with a touch screen but instead into the trackpad. Many of the features they showed using gestures and multi-touch like Mission Control looked very iPad-esque. Apple trackpads have contained multi-touch and gestures before but it looks like “Lion” will take those features to the next level.
The second thing that stood out to me was the entry level price for the 11′ MacBook Pro. When Apple first launched the MacBook Air it was clearly in the “executive jewelry” category. Mostly because of the price. This time they packed innovations around design form factor, battery life, trackpad, NVIDIA graphics and more into a price below $1000 and made it within reach of the every day consumer.
For those class of consumers who want small, ultra-portable notebooks the MacBook air is now an attractive option. Include with that Apple’s proprietary software like iLife and the unique OSX experience and its now wonder 50% of new Mac buyers are Windows converts.
Ultimately Apple is a software company. The hardware they make is uniquely designed to run some of the most advanced software created. Lucky for us the end consumer they take pride and integrate passion into both.