User Reactions to Apple Product Updates are Mixed

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Apple introduced a trio of new notebook computers and a new 24″ LCD display monitor yesterday, and judging by reader reactions in the Apple blogosphere, the company kept alive its multiyear, unbroken streak of failing to be all things to all people.

Steve Jobs gave ample stage time to Apple design chief Jony Ive, who pulled back the curtain on the company’s design and manufacturing processes to try and impress the assembled media with Apple’s industry-leading, visionary thinking about laptop design and production.

Much of the discussion at the event centered around “under-the-hood” improvements to the new Macs’ graphic display processors (Nvidia GeForce 9400M and 9600M) and to the increasingly fine distinctions between Apple’s “Pro” line of MacBooks and those geared toward average consumers. In a nutshell, consumers are expected to make do with smaller display screens and no Firewire.

Toward the end of the event, Jobs showed an illustrative documentary about the new manufacturing and machining processes, which build the notebook cases out of solid blocks of “environmentally responsible” aluminum in a manner that VP of Product Design Dan Riccio described as “kinda like how you make pasta.”

In all, the presentation seemed designed to let people know, in Ive’s words, “how much we care.”

But do Apple’s customers care how much the company cares? Follow the jump for some choice user comments on the company’s latest offerings.

“I am the only person waiting feverishly outside the Apple Store. I am such a weinie,” wrote a MacRumors user in Newark, NJ this morning.

While my colleague Pete Mortensen was both guarded and effusive in his praise for Apple’s new offerings – he called the new MacBook family “incredible” but also said “there are … puzzlements” – the biggest gripe users seem to have is the lack of a matte screen option across the entire new product line.

“Those new glossy screens are not a smart idea for a lot of people. Sitting at the airport trying to read one of those is going to be a challenge,” wrote one Cult of Mac commenter, and “The lack of a matte screen option is actually a deal-breaker for me,” says another.

“New MacBook Family Shows Apple Doesn’t Care About Mac Users” was a suggested revision to the title of Pete’s analysis and one MacRumors forum user said, “I am thinking a dell or hp at this point in time…”

Losing Firewire on the MacBook consumer line seems like a slap in the face to some, though it’s likely people will learn to deal with it, as user Scott told us, “I’m very sad about that”¦but that just means when I get a new laptop I have to get a MBP”¦because I use firewire hard drives and EyeTV”¦but I have usb drives and usb EyeTV I can use”¦so its a toss up”¦”

By far the most controversial development yesterday appears to be Apple’s introduction of the Mini DisplayPort and the fact that the new 24″ LCD Cinema Displays connect only to them. Mortensen calls Apple’s choice “bizarre” and is already pining for Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI and Mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort converters. “This new display port [is] crap”¦how many different adapters am I going to have to buy?” wonders one commenter, and another writes, “the Mini DisplayPort is ridiculous. I still want one.”

There is always a vocal portion of the Apple community who complain bitterly about anything new from the company. Because Apple has been so successful in the past, people have incredibly high expectations and every time Steve Jobs doesn’t introduce a device that will clean your clock and buff your shoes and pack you a nice healthy lunch, people are let down.

The reality, illustrated by Apple’s little production documentary and Ive’s impassioned description of his love for the “insides” of the computers he designs, is that the company is unbelievably forward-looking and continues to run circles around the competition.

As Cult of Mac commenter deocliciano put it, “You gotta love them for being risky! People most of time does NOT know what is good for them! I want SHEAR power!”

  • MINI Vanilli

    what do people want?!!… seriously. these computers are amazing! and have to be seen in person to appreciate the engineering marvel that they are. as usual people will complain and moan for a few weeks and it will blow over and everybody will be fighting to own one. same old same old.

  • GSP

    “What do we want” ?! As far as the new MacBook is concerned, I don’t mind the lack of expresscard, I’m good with the 13.3 screen, the glass trackpad and the better graphics, but why do I have do without a measly firewire port ?

  • kermit

    13″ is small, painful for the eyes

    firewire is needed (in EVERY mac).

    2500 $/€ is expensive for a 17″ laptop.

    a 17″ MB with firewire for around 1000 $/€ would be OK. Look outside the apple distortion field and check prices of other brands…

  • mbarriault

    Admittedly I’m glad I went with my new EeePC 1000 rather than waiting on a low-priced Macbook, as the Whitebook was certainly not what I pictured. That being said, I love the new design, especially the continuity going from the 13″/2.0 GHz Macbook up to the 15″/2.8 GHz Macbook Pro, and come next summer when I leave the province (if not the whole country) for grad school, I’ll be selling both my iMac and EeePC for one.

    I think removing the Firewire port falls under the “about damn time” category. Firewire initially saw popularity being faster than competing USB, which soon caught up and exceeded the more-common S400 implementation. Firewire is still only found, usually, on higher-end computers and most devices that did use it – like video cameras – now use USB.

    As for Mini DisplayPort… that’s kinda pointless, with DisplayPort connector being similarly sized as USB, although introducing the standard itself will help increase adoption and fight expensive standards like HDMI.

  • Paco

    They are pretty, indeed. But for a lot of designers, the lack of a matte screen option is going to be a difficult pill to swallow.

  • phaty

    “New MacBook Family Shows Apple Doesn’t Care About Mac Users” was a suggested revision to the title of Pete’s analysis and one MacRumors forum user said, “I am thinking a dell or hp at this point in time…”

    That guy never was a Mac User in the first place!

  • Hackney

    I think what people want is pretty clear, and anyone following mac forums in the past year or so can pick it up pretty easily !
    1. The long-regretted 12″ powerbook still hasn’t found a successor. Isn’t it possible to have a small size powerful laptop computer ?
    2. Matte display option
    3. Firewire for all
    4. Longer battery life
    5. A computer that actually looks good, following apple standards: these new macbooks look like a hybrid transition between something that existed, and something that is still to come ! The old macbook pro all-aluminium design was undoubtedly better.

    I hope the next design update will be more creative than this. It really looks they’ve run out of ideas for this one…

  • Chris

    Hi Lonnie,

    I was hoping that you would do a story on the large number of unhappy creative professionals after yesterdays product launch. Apple’s decision to cover the laptops and new Cinema Display with highly reflective glass is causing quite a stir amongst their traditionally strong support base. You can find discussions on all of the professional photography and film forums. One discussion on MacWorld sums up the experience:

    http://forums.macworld.com/thr

    All discussions on Apple’s own forums are being taken down. Please help draw attention to this.

  • John

    Firewire SHOULD NOT be a privilege. The new Macbooks are WORTHLESS as video editing machines. I’m not going to give 2000 euro (that’s 2700 American dollars), for something i could get for 1100 euro. They had ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to remove firewire. I’m going the hackintosh way. I’m sorry Apple, but you have f***** me one too many times.

  • Sam Damon

    I’m with the rest who think removing FireWire from the MacBook is a mistake.

    I could have understood if Apple had replaced the FireWire 400 port with a FireWire 800 port. But dumping it altogether means Apple has said to us, “Screw you.”

    It’s true the latest AVCHD camcorders from Panasonic, Sony, and others do not have a FireWire port. On the other hand, when I’m dealing with the massive amount of data one ends up with from HD video, I want to plug in a FireWire drive to deal with it. There’s a great deal of it out there. It works fine. There’s no reason to junk it at this time, or even several years down the road.

    I think part of this is that Apple’s very insular and independent-minded design culture sometimes fails to pay attention to what happens in the USA’s “flyover country.” As a rule, Apple only fixes what the staff in Cupertino tend to use.

    I don’t see any reason to upgrade to a new MacBook until my kids have to actually go to college, even if I might want them to have the same computer they would have their senior year of high school.

  • Thiago Auge

    I wasn’t impressed at all…
    Anemic presentation, for anemic products, introduced by an anemic Jobs…

    I remember the 2003 presentation, that was revolutionary. And that was almost six years ago…

  • Bill

    Indeed, no firewire means no purchase. What an I supposed to do with my MiniDV camera? Is iMovie a professional app now? It must be, ‘cuz you can only import MiniDV footage on the pro laptop.

  • Matthew

    “…the company kept alive its multiyear, unbroken streak of failing to be all things to all people.”

    Clearly, Apple is DOOMED!!!

  • Radek

    …. “I think removing the Firewire port falls under the “about damn time” category. Firewire initially saw popularity being faster than competing USB, which soon caught up and exceeded the more-common S400 implementation. Firewire is still only found, usually, on higher-end computers and most devices that did use it – like video cameras – now use USB.”

    I have to say that removing Firewire on Macbook was stupid and it will make lot of people upset (including me).

    I just check Dell to see how are others doing. I don’t think $499 Dell notebook which HAVE firewire is higher-end computer. All Dell notebooks except 9′ Inspiron Mini for $350 have Fireware.
    I didn’t check other manufacturers, but I would expect that Macbook is only notebook over $1000 which DOESN’T have Fireware, which is kind of embarasin for company who developed this standard.

  • Pmoes

    ““The lack of a matte screen option is actually a deal-breaker for me,” says another”

    Oh you’d better go and get a Dell with Vista then….

  • Steve Turner

    Looks like Jony is being positioned for when Steve goes.

    While I’m an Engineer and Mac Luvva, I really don’t care one bit about the machined from solid story. They didn’t do that because of the customer, they did it because it was the most economic option (either manufacturing cost or capital cost).

    On the other hand, Apple makes great and highly innovative products which people are willing to pay a premium to own.

  • Dustin

    I loved it…i ate it up…in fact…I wore a black turtleneck while keeping tabs on two live blogs yesterday morning…but I want a new 17 inch macbook pro….WHERE WAS THAT?!?!? I am impatient! ~~quoting Veruca Salt “Daddy, I want it NOW!”

  • Seb.

    “The lack of a matte screen option is actually a deal-breaker for me”

    – Who can work 8 hours a day in front of a glossy screen ? Apple wants its customers to become blind, I think
    – If I want to contemplate myself, I can use the iSight (or a mirror) !

  • Greg

    Good design doesn’t have to have a premium price tag. The iMac I own is more expensive than comparible PCs, but if you factor in design, durability and the OS, it’s not bad value.

    The new macbooks look fantastic, and again considering the above, they probably are pretty good value.

    What I lament is this- most people using portable devices really only need internet access, “pages” and “numbers”, and I guess powerpoint. EEC pc recognized this, and provided a reasonable solution.

    Why can’t Apple come out with something in that market? We don’t all need all this computer power at work. I certainly don’t. If apple designed something useful like the EEC, with a price under $450, with their record of design and appeal, they would dominate the computer market.

    I won’t be buying a macbook. My old iBook is fantastic for everything, even handling photos and music. Until it breaks, I have no reason to switch. I hope never to buy a notebook again, they should be redundent for most people.

    The time has come for something sueful- an oversized iphone like device, say called “iSlate”, that handles all the work stuff. It’s bigger than the tiny dimensions of the iphone (I use an iTouch), but does only what you need when you are at work.

  • Chris

    I purchase a new MacBook Pro every year and was looking forward to the new one, but the glossy screen is a deal breaker for me. I hate reflective screens on computers.

    Way too distracting and adds too much eye strain.

    Very disappointed.

  • Macguy59

    Exact same comments I read when Apple did away with the floppy. We survived. Change is hard sometimes. Will the Firewire to USB cables not work with the MiniDV’s ?

  • Jim Schimpf

    The loss of the Firewire port means I lose two important functions in my laptop

    (1) My Firewire time machine backup. I have nice little Firewire disk fits nicely behind the screen as I’m working. This isn’t possible with USB because it won’t supply the juice to run a disk with out plugging into (and using up) both ports.

    (2) Target disk mode. I get a LOT of mileage out of this to recover machines and to use my laptop as a DVD player for machines that don’t have one.

    So, I’m going to keep my 12″ PB going for another couple of years till Apple sees the light.

  • William

    Ok, what is with the no firewire. Everything else is perfect, except for no firewire…

  • Gary

    Someone wrote “I hope the next design update will be more creative than this. It really looks they’ve run out of ideas for this one…” There is difference between design and decoration. Consider Porsche’s 911. Out of ideas? Not!

  • Camperton

    Pmoes

    Since most Mac users would rather not buy a dell and all new software that’s all the more reason why Apple should offer their customers the option to but what they NEED… not what Apple thinks looks good right now.

  • mick

    I wont be buying another Mac for the foreseeable future.

  • Steve

    Lately I find I do not like the design of many Apple products (Although I have a new iPhone 3G, Nano, and Macbook Air which I do like a lot). The new Macbook (and Pro) look a little bit odd to me. The screen (lid) looks like it’s from the Air which is joined to a metal version of the old Macbook bottom. The Air looks balanced and considered but not the Macbook. Having said all of that its still much better than any other non Apple laptop.

  • Harlan Leyside

    I love the new macbook design. I even coloured my powerbook 12″ with a black marker to make the screen surround black when I got it. Maybe I should have copyrighted the design and sued Apple!

    I detest the new glossy screen: its even worse than the old macbook ones. For those with a discerning eye, the subtlety of colour, the naturalism, of the matte screen — especially when watching DVDs – is far superior.

    I intended to continue with the powerbook until it died, but with Snow Leopard due next year and needing Intel chips, I have been forced by Apple to buy a 15″ Macbook Pro from a reseller to ensure I will have a matte screen.

    How many people today actually go outside, look at the world as it is? It does not have a shiny gloss in front of it! I have to wear glasses, so the last thing I want is more glass between my eyes and what I am looking at.

    If Apple is so cool, so ahead of the game, why is it joining all the other bogstandard laptop makers with their glossy screens?
    Most flatscreen TVs now are matte, ‘cos people love them!

  • camel jockey

    I love the machined body. In fact, I plan to purchase a macbook early next year, even tho I have a perfetly functioning macbook pro. I like the smaller machines.

  • thomas Laird

    I recieved a new macbook for my birthday and couldn’t be happier, the display is beautiful, and the power of the machine is amazing! the whole click track pad is something to get used to, but overall it is a fantastic innovation!

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