Apple last week unveiled the latest version of Macbook Air, which has officially made my Christmas list.
Among its nifty features are the touchscreen capabilities made popular by the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, as well as FaceTime videoconferencing software currently available on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Apple has also made available a beta version of the software for its current OS release, Snow Leopard, on its website, in case you just can't wait.
What's neat about the latest Air is its lack of a kludgy, heavy hard drive to weigh down and bulk out the form factor. The new Air features flash memory for storage, which means the Air weighs in at a mere 2.3 or 2.9 pounds, depending on the model.
As I wipe the drool off my keyboard, I'm amazed at how Apple can essentially make myriad products from the same basic technologies, and yet each product stands alone in its category. Either the lines delineating device categories are becoming more blurred, or Apple has proven it probably could market a can of oatmeal preloaded with FaceTime and touchscreen capabilities with equal success. Either way, it's clear to me that the 'traditional' computing device form factor is not long for this world.
It's inevitable that the Macbook Air will join its brethren in the enterprise, which leads me to wonder how long it will take before PC manufacturers take the very large hint and start building their devices with a much slimmer form factor. Already, slate-style devices are showing up the corporate networks, with the iPad leading the charge followed by a slew of devices designed for and aimed squarely at the enterprise.
Besides innovation, Apple has excelled at ergonomics, something not often pointed out by mainstream media or analysts. It realizes the importance of ease of use in design, which is the core of its success. And the fact that its products won't dislocate your shoulder while you're carrying them doesn't hurt, either.
I expect corporate computing devices will go through an evolution over the next 12 months thanks to Apple's continued influence. Lighter-weight devices that utilize alternative technologies to reduce the size and thickness will begin to proliferate the enterprise. To which I say, thank you, Apple.