Sunday, 26 October 2008

Apple's biggest tech taboos

When it comes to technology, Apple is considered one of the pioneers in each product category it is in. No other tech company has a cult following for its products the way Apple enjoys. Macintosh computers have always had a cult-like fan base which has got a new boost with the popularity of Apple's iPod MP3 players and iPhone mobile devices.
However, there seem to be a few technologies which despite their raging popularity worldwide are either yet to get Apple's attention, or capture Apple CEO Steve Job's imagination. According to him, while some are in nascent stage, others have complex licensing issues.

However, Jobs is known for rejecting ideas right till the moment Apple announces the same idea as an iconic product. In 2003, at All Things Digital tech conference, Jobs reportedly told reporters that Apple was focusing on iPods, rather than PDAs or cellphones, because "we didn't think we'd do well in the cellphone business."

And during the same interview, Jobs dismissed the idea of movies on an iPod, saying "I'm not convinced people want to watch movies on a tiny little screen." Three years later, we had the iTunes Video Store and everyone knows about the frenzied success of iPhone in past one year.

Thus, while one can never say never going by Jobs' record, there are four things that Apple will not get into (at least for the time being). Incidentally, Jobs made these remarks after Apple refreshed its notebook computers range last week, introducing a 'Pro' version which includes two separate graphics cards and a new version of its consumer-focused MacBook line which uses an aluminium casing.

Sony's Blu-ray might have won the war against HD DVD, but there's still some time before the technology becomes a part of Apple's products.

According to Steve Jobs, Blu-ray is “just a bag of hurt” where the licensing of the technology is too complex.

Jobs clarified that he didn't mean this from a consumer experience perspective. "Apple is waiting until things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the cost of the drives," he added.

Incidentally, Apple is a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association.

PC makers may be scrambling to enter the market of ultra-portable mini-laptops, popularly called Netbooks, in the hope that in an economic downturn these Netbooks will offset any business losses from their traditional laptop business.

However, for Jobs, this market is still ‘nascent’ to enter. It may be recalled that Apple investors have hammered the company's stock because of its perceived failure to introduce cheaper versions of MacBooks despite the economic meltdown.

When quizzed if, and when will users see a cheap Mac Netbook, Jobs shrugged off the idea saying, "In terms of Netbooks, that's a nascent market that's just getting started."

HDMI resolution
Apple is using Display Port video connections instead of HDMI connections in its new laptops and Cinema Display. According to Jobs, "HDMI has limited resolution."

Though this may be true technically, but analysts say HDMI has some distinct advantages when it comes to ease of setting up and penetration. It is also on most HDTVs currently shipping and it exists on a number of monitors as well.

To this, Phil Schiller, senior vice president, Worldwide Product Marketing, responded that for typical computer use, display port is the connector of the future.

Touchscreen display
Apple may have had a roaring success with iPhone, courtesy its touchscreen interface. However, the company so far has no plans to bring the touchscreen display to laptops. According to Jobs, while they've looked at touchscreens for notebooks, but "so far it hasn't made a lot of sense to us."

With the move to multi-touch trackpads on the MacBook and MacBook Pro, many people had speculated that Apple might move to multi-touch screens as well.

However, the world's largest PC maker, Hewlett-Packard does not seem to think so. According to reports, the computer giant is developing a consumer notebook machine with a touchscreen that will debut by the end of this year.

The new laptop will be the latest in a series of touch-oriented devices that are likely to become an important part of HP's consumer strategy as it tries to differentiate itself from rivals such as Dell Inc. But Apple clearly has different ideas.