Consumers, what Consumers?

Initial thoughts on the announcements today, the Consumer is dead, long live the Pro!!

Aluminium = Pro, White = Consumer, so lets take a look at the line of Mac’s in the stable currently.

In the aluminium corner we have:

The MacBook Pro – 3 models
The iMac – 4 models
The Mac Pro – ‘infinite’ permutations

In the white corner we have:

The Mac Book – 2 models (taking the Black as the same as the White)
The Mac mini – 2 models (maybe the small upgrade means there is life in the small dog yet)

The AppleTV – white, so consumer, but by Steve’s own admission a ‘hobby’ for Apple that they don’t really know how to make money out of.

Of course the iPod is a consumer product without doubt, but the current iPhone in my opinion is more of a Pro product than a Consumer product.

In all seriousness I am impressed with the announcements today. I vaguely thought that they might aline them with the ACD range i.e. 20″, 23″ and 30″ so that they would dovetail nicely in a dual screen set up.

.Mac is a huge step in the right direction.

I am pleased but amazed that iLife 08 has been announced. It looks great and I am really looking to forward to seeing how iPhoto now works with sharing a library across Mac’s.

Pride of place goes to the new keyboard for me, based on appearance. I am a big fan of the Mac Book keyboard so I want to get my hands on one as quickly as possible.

And finally, in this brief note, a quick nod in the direction of the Mac mini and it’s quiet but not insignificant updates.

16 thoughts on “Consumers, what Consumers?

  1. matt

    Very interesting insight. I was thinking similar things when looking (via Engadget) the new iMovie. It looks and feels a step above a consumer level app and more like a prosumer or entry-level pro app.

    Of course, I can’t wait to try it out and see for myself.

    Perhaps the consumer is really becoming more advanced, or at least the Apple consumer…

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    I have mentioned this several times on Tim’s podcast – with the level of computing power available, and the pro applications that we can all get our hands on now it is a little daunting what the ‘individual’ can now produce.

    Is possibly a case of a little knowledge being dangerous as we all a) think we can do more than we actually can and b) get sucked into buying applications and computers that in reality we don’t really need. And yes, I am as guilty of this as the next person!

  3. Blake Brannon

    Apple seems to, in the past two years, been pushing the “quality” of Apple products. Quality not meaning speed and performance but rather a balanced quality similar to the way a marketing department would push the “value” of a product versus the price. They want you to feel like you are getting a great quality product even though it is not the fastest on the market. The enclosure change seems like just the next logical step into getting Apple more green and selling great “quality” products.

  4. Gary

    Hi Chris – gotta disagree with your placement of the ol’ mini in the white corner – sorry. Mine has got more brushed metal around the edges than there is white plastic in evidence on the top. (The iomega MiniMax hard drive underneath reinforces this perception.) I’d say the ratio is something like 4:3 metal:white plastic. The new iMac seems to still have white plastic at the front and “only” has aluminium around the edges – it appears to be black plastic at the back. I’m not sure of what the ratio would be offhand (I’ll let you know when mine arrives next week, if you like!). Anyway, what I’m saying is that they’re similar as far as the combination of materials is concerned and should both be in the same corner – IMHO. 😀

    The .Mac improvements do indeed sound interesting.

    At well over a grand, iLife ’08 seems awfy expensive, but at least I’ll get a free iMac with it. 😉

    At first I thought there would be a dilemma in choosing a keyboard for the new iMac (did I mention I was getting one? 😆 ). And then I decided I’d get the wireless keyboard since I have several older USB keyboards around. And then … I saw that (here in the UK at least) they’re quoting 3-5 weeks for the wireless keyboard and normal delivery (ie, same as the iMacs) – 3-5 days for the wired keyboard. Dilemma solved – wired now. And then probably a wireless one later on, just because!

    NB also that the new keyboard comes in two versions – and I don’t just mean wired/wireless. The regular wired keyboard is a full size keyboard, but the wireless one loses both the numeric keypad and the page up/down and home/end grouping. At least it retains the cursor cluster. It looks similar to the keyboards I think I’ve seen pictures of which are used with some set-top cable tv type boxes. Reinforcing the perception of the iMac as the centre of your digital hub?

    Another possible issue of the wireless keyboard that I’m just coming to grips with (since my keyboards have always been wired in the past) is that you lose two USB sockets. On the other hand, the USB sockets on the wired keyboard have been upgraded to USB2, although they are probably still limited in the amount of power they can deliver… Regardless, I guess I’l need to get a powered USB2 hub – sooner, rather than later.

    Agreed on the mini – I’m pleased to see that the rumours of its demise were premature. I’m rather fond of mine, even although I don’t often use it. It simply looks good sitting on the corner of the adjacent desk, here in my data centre

  5. Wayne LeFevre

    The $180 Airport Extreme Base Station is now gigabit, (also, all white…) So, after only a few months they change to gigabit and unfortunately, some of us got caught in the old trap! I would probably classify the AEBS as consumer, (vs. aluminum pro 🙂 ,) though it has more of a pro price!

    Anyone want to buy an AEBS? 😉

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    @Blake: that’s branding for you 🙂 iLife and .mac are great examples. Both ‘cool’ and well integrated but both have better alternatives out in the market if you hunt around (maybe not iTunes and iPhoto I admit)

    @Wayne: good to see it isn’t just me that stuff happens to!

    @Gary: funny, the Mac mini is predominantly silver but I still ‘see’ it ia a white machine. Can’t explain it really! I actually have mine sat on a LaCie hard drive which is silver as well – must be the top of it!

    I could agree with your arguement for the Mac mini and iMac, although Steve himself aluded to making the iMac a ‘pro like’ machine, but will be more than interested to see what you have to say when yours turns up.

    Can’t see the iMacas the centre of a digital hub though – Mac mini yes in which case the wireless keyboard size makes sense, but for a ‘main’ keyboard am not sure about the lack of a number pad? I am hopefully getting a diNovo Edge sent through so will find out with that I guess. Personally I would go with wired keyboards nowadays, one less thing to worry about charging, batteries etc.

  7. Gary

    Hi Chris

    > will be more than interested to see what you have to say when yours turns up.

    I got it ordered just a couple of hours ago – the order’s currently “Being Processed”. They’re estimating five days to ship, and then it’s the usual 3-7 days of actual shipping time.

    In the end, I ordered a copy of iWork ’08 too, though I don’t expect to use it much – but Numbers does look intriguing! 🙂

    As far as the iMac/digital hub idea is concerned, forget using your Mac mini with your existing TV. Think of your new 24″ iMac as the TV itself… With the availability of USB TV receivers, that seems pretty feasible. At least, for people with smaller lounges anyway. Look at the specs for the 24″ model and they’re quoting virtually 180 degree visibility with it. I recall also seeing reference somewhere to there being a VESA(?) wall mounting bracket (just like LCD TVs?) available for the 24″ model – though I don’t recall being offered it as an option when I bought mine.

    Another take on the smaller wireless keyboard is that it’s not unlike the keyboard on a laptop. Though laptops tend to have a numeric keyboard superimposed on the normal keyboard, via a “fn” modifier key, this doesn’t seem to have that. But then, I don’t remember ever really using the overlaid keyboard when my G3 iBook was my main machine…

  8. Gary

    > one less thing to worry about charging, batteries etc.

    I’ve probably been using Microsoft’s “Wireless Optical mouse 2 ” for a couple of years now and I think I’ve only had to change the batteries two or maybe three times so far… True, it will nag me periodically after a few months, but I just ignore it until I start actually seeing battery related issues – as opposed to the ravings of a paranoid mouse! 🙂

    Since I don’t recall hearing anything adverse about Apple’s previous wireless keyboard – at least, not as far as battery consumption is concerned – I’m not unduly concerned about the prospects for this new wireless keyboard.

  9. Gary

    @Wayne – thanks for that. I’d actually already heard about it, but have decided for now just to wait until I receive it with the new machine.

    Now, if only this address was for real, it would cover me for the time it will take for my own new machine to arrive…
    http://www.apple.com/imac/trial/ 😀

  10. Mac Sokulski

    @Gary
    That 24″ iMac as a TV would be a one hell of an expensive tv. What a waste of an awsome computer as well. Try sharing that with a 6 year old trying to watch something, while you want to do something. Scary. That’s why the mac mini is so versatile. It does not require an HDTV like AppleTV, it can still browse, and fetch emails if it needs to. It’s perfect for watching movies, dvds, listening to music etc. Full digital surround, not like AppleTV. I could go on. One thing it’s not good at, actually no Mac is… at treating it as a PVR, specially in Canada. None I found offer an EPG (elecronic program guide). EyeTV has been around for ages, and still nothing. Their answer is soon…. not soon enough for me. TiVo works just fine for recording tv.
    In actuality you would probably spend less on a larger HDTV screen and a mac mini, than on a 24″ iMac.

  11. Chris Marshall Post author

    I am with Mac on this one. We have Sands iMac hooked up to the Satellite with an eyeTV Hybrid which works great, but having tried to watch a movie on it it just doesn’t ‘work’. Technically it is fine, but as an experience it doesn’t. Now the Mac mini hooked up directly to the TV, picking up data off any of the other Mac’s on the network, controlled by a wireless keyboard and mouse and front row works really well.

    My Apple keyboards and mice eat batteries – am looking forward to trying out the new USB Apple keyboards (ordered one for Sands yesterday)

  12. Gary

    @Mac – I never said it was a cheap solution… 🙂 But there’s a market for Bang & Olufsen products that most ordinary people can’t afford, so…

    I’ve never bothered paying attention to articles about using a Mac mini as a media centre in the past – the subject held no interest. Unfortunately, your post has started me thinking about it. And after all, they’ve just done a quite significant upgrade of the mini… This post of yours could turn out to have expensive repercussions… ❗

    @Chris & Mac – how do you connect yours to your TV? SCART? My existing TV uses a SCART connection for the best quality from both my ageing video and newer DVD player and I’d want to use that here too…

  13. Chris Marshall Post author

    Connection depends on options on the TV. Ideally HDMI (which I have with the iMac and Samsung which is excellent), afer that SCART (which I have with the B&O which is fine) then s-video, which I have with the Desktop PC to Sony which is ok.

    Sorry to have led you down the path of temptation 🙂 The Mac mini is a great litle hub, with the benefits of being a Mac. My parents have just bought one primarily to show their pictures on ther 42″ flat screen but also to video iChat from the comfort of their sofa’s.

  14. Mac Sokulski

    I have 2 mini 1.83 Core Duo, with out any upgrade running on two TVs. One is HDMI and second connects to the VGA port on a TV. I was going to put more ram into them, but after seeing their performance with video and music, I see no reason. They replaced my Windows Media Center pc, and a couple of DVD players. I have no complains except for Front Row. I wish that after spending the time updating movie info, it would actually show up in Front Row. Alas, that is not the case. So right now I’m just waiting for leopard to show up with it’s updated Front Row. Hopefully it’s something like the AppleTV.
    Fingers crossed.

  15. Chris Marshall Post author

    Leopard has a different Front Row interface and provides more data and options. Can’t say more than that 🙂

    Can’t compare to Apple TV as don’t have one 🙁

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