Being PowerBook based, I was a bit disappointed. The towers sound fantastic, especially the G5 Quad, which is a mind-blowing amount of horsepower in a desktop machine. Aperture looks stellar, I know several professional photographers who will probably start using it right away and I might be graduating from iPhoto too.
Today’s hardware releases had to have been tailored for a few goals:
- Make terrific machines which will sell
- Don’t exceed the Intel machines
- Don’t fall too far behind the Intel machines
Number one is obvious. Numbers two and three are more delicate. These machines can’t be so good that they take the piss out of the coming Intel boxes. Likewise, they can’t be so pathetic that Intel hardware makes these worthless. Apple has a great deal invested in brand loyalty, these machines were distinctly tailored for the transitional role they’ll be serving.
Based on that, i think it’s clear that the PowerBooks are maxed out. Yes they have better screens, better batteries, upgraded video chipsets, dual-layer DVD burners, digital audio ports and the option for larger hard drives. But there was no speed boost. These are the same CPUs as the previous generation — and that’s why I’m not going to buy one now.
New portables will most likely ship before new towers. Intel’s latest quarterly earnings pointed to the exceptional performance of their portable division. Before this upgrade, PowerBooks hadn’t been updated since January 2005, which means that Apple’s laptops for the holiday season will likely be running year-old CPUs. That’s just bad on its face. Intel’s Mobile Computing Platform and Centrino chips have been an area of great innovation at Intel, a good thing since AMD’s workstation and server chips are currently out-performing Intel’s equivalents. Apple’s Intel laptops are likely going to break my third point above. Battery life should be significantly improved and there will probably be something close to a half gigahertz speed increase (numbers based on the Intel® Products Laptop Processor Roadmap). This round of laptops won’t compare well unless Apple releases intentionally weakened Intel PowerBooks.
So I’m thinking 1Q 2006 for laptops, hopefully at MacWorld in January. They will absolutely be shipped at least a month or two before WWDC. There’s no way Jobs will get onstage this year without having shipped Intel laptops. A few months lead time would allow many developers to have Intel hardware on their laps for the keynote.