I recently was surprised to find a Google Chrome netbook waiting at the door for me. I had requested one through the Cr-48 pilot program when it was announced last year but was not counting on getting one. I am a power Google Apps user and use everything from Calendar to Latitude to Chrome. So far I love it and here are some of the features the Cr-48 has that Apple should employ into their future laptops:
1- Integrated 3G/CDMA chip with multi-carrier compatibility. Qualcomm makes a chip capable of using either network. This would eliminate the need for users to tether or carry a 3G stick. This is the last step Apple needs to make MacBooks truly mobile. In order for Apple to make users move into the cloud they must ensure that connectivity to vital files can be guaranteed at all times. While Wi-Fi is abundant in most cities, 3G and even 2G networks like EDGE can be used to assure ultimate access.
2- Design or bring back the black MacBook. The all black matte look of the Cr-48 is killer. The texture is great and it is just a sharp looking computer. There is no branding whatsoever on the Cr-48 although the glowing Apple is not something I want to go away. The aluminum look of the MacBook Pro is getting dated. Sure it still looks great but Apple needs to allow users to have some sort of way to personalize their devices. You’d be surprised how something as little as a color choice can deter potential switchers.
3- Price is everything. While the details of the Cr-48’s price are not clear, many imagine it will price for only a few hundred dollars. The sub-$400 sector is a place Apple seems not to want to enter. I think they would sell many netbook style computers especially with OS X Lion coming in the near future. There should be an option for an OS X machine for less than $500. The biggest reason people do not make the switch to Mac is price. How many times have you seen a father and son looking at laptops at Best Buy and then proceed to argue over the price. An entry level MacBook would not take away from the Apple experience. It would merely allow more users to jump in to Macs and then eventually upgrade over the years.
My favorite aspect of the tech industry is how companies push each other with no regards to cost. Google has made it interesting in the world of netbooks. This process of innovation by mutually assured destruction is great for consumers and will ultimately force Apple to respond in some aspect. While no one wants Apple to revert back to its old ways, I think it is time that Apple finds some middle ground.