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Evolution Not Contradiction

Gordon Kelly


UPDATED: Why Apple Will Build An 11.6in Laptop

Update 20.10.10: Told ya ;)

Talk of a more affordable 11.6in MacBook has once again hit the headlines and generated heated discussion. What's different this time around is it may actually happen...

The rumours stem from two sites: Apple Insider and Digitimes. The former quotes "sources in Taiwan" that a smaller version of the MacBook Air will be with us for Christmas, the latter that Apple has placed an order with Taiwanese manufacturing giant Quanta to build the 11.6in model. Is either site right? We don't know, but what's interesting is customers are desperate to see it materialise and yet I'll bet my last penny Apple isn't keen to build it - even though it will. Why? Apple is evolving.

As recently as 2008 Steve Jobs declared: "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that". In 2010 it launched the iPad at $499 and declared "it does things no tablet PC, netbook, or e-reader could".

Contradiction? No, it's evolution - and it illustrates the pressure applied in this day and age to making computing ever more mobile and ever more affordable. The iPad isn't enough, however, sites like mymacnetbook.com are becoming ever more plentiful and it only takes a few minutes of browsing to see that demand still remains for a product Apple did not and, up to now, would not make.

'Did' and 'would'? I use these terms because Apple is also showing consistent signs of being able to compromise. Yes traditionally these haven't been words entered into the Cupertino dictionary and Steve Jobs famously issues one word dismissals in response to journalist questions or customer emails he doesn't like. Despite this look at Apple's recent track record: It started in August last year when the App Store stunned us by approving the Spotify iPhone app then showing the same leniency when accepting the Opera iPhone web browser and open sourcing its Safari Webkit2 architecture.

We thought such goodwill had expired in April when Jobs published Thoughts on Flash, a brutal open letter in which he launched a tirade against Adobe and cut all development ties with its products. We were wrong. Despite these ravings, Jobs' reversed his decision in just five months with Apple not only reopening the doors to Flash developers, but welcoming in new third party development tools as well. Most recently Apple also accepted the VLC media player into the App Store ending the three year lockdown it had placed on iOS codec support.

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