The MacBook. The End of an Era. (16.5.2006 – 20.07.2011)

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As we say hello to Lion, Apple’s newest Mac operating system, we wave goodbye to Apple’s iconic portable Macintosh.

12am 20th of July 2011 and millions of Apple fans across the world anticipate the arrival of Lion Apple Inc’s latest X operating system since Snow Leopard. As the Apple website goes down to update, it returns exhibiting its flash new Operating system but also using the anticipation of the OS to make an unnoticed change.
On the Mac page there are now but two portable notebook Macs, the light MacBook Air and the weightier MacBook Pro. The original MacBook quietly retired.

The five year old Portable introduced in May 2006 saw Apple move from PowerPC to Intel processors. The MacBook originally shipped much like today’s iPhone or iPad, available in black or white but with a heftier price tag on the black model, the white won and the black MacBook was discontinued in 2008.

The design of the MacBook was based largely on its PowerPC predecessor the iBook (originally made in 1999 but redesigned in 2002 into the iconic white Apple notebook), but was thinner and lighter as well as being 13 inches instead of the 12 or 14 inch iBook models, and even sported an audio input jack and output jack as appose to the iBook’s combined one.

The MacBook proved a success leading to other models such as the MacBook Air and saw the introduction of an aluminum unibody model which although discontinued was to become the basis of the design of the higher end MacBook Pro.

The MacBook was Apple’s affordable portable Mac with both the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air (although now available starting from the same price as a MacBook) costing considerably more. The notebook became iconic with Apple, being modern and simple, as with the iBook (I own a G3 2002 Dual USB iBook that is so modern looking for a nearly 10 year old computer it looks and performs as if it was made yesterday, and having fell unprotected two stories surviving without a scratch that really is something) and is even considered to be simply the next model iBook. Its iBook improved white design with the glowing apple logo has been iconic with Apple for almost 10 years.

But unfortunately sales of the MacBook have not been doing as well lately and Apple keen to develop post PC devices and make their notebooks more like them (MacBook air – think iPad with a lid) has left the MacBook behind, and it can be argued even forced the sales of the MacBook to dwindle. The 2009 MacBook introduced by Apple was radically redesigned, being more rounded and plastic feeling it lost much of its appeal however the main issue was with components, the previous MacBook’s had stepped forward from the iBook introducing two audio jacks but the 2009 model reverted to just one. As well as this Firewire which was until the advance of USB3 the fastest way of exporting video was dropped making these components luxury’s available only on the higher priced MacBook Pro. This was not the only buying deterrent however, Mac’s infamous for their creative and design software such as video and audio editing programs like Adobe Soundbooth and After Effects, placed restrictions on high end design programs such as Final Cut Pro 7 making them only usable on MacBook Pro’s even though the MacBook’s themselves were fully capable of running them. (My MacBook runs FCP7 like a dream)

Apple are known to make changes however to force consumers to buy other products, such as silently discontinuing Front Row, their Mac media system within OS Lion presumably in a bid to increase sales of their Apple TV product.

Apple have now made the MacBook Air available at £850 however for this price you get a 11 inch note book with 1.6Ghz processor, 2GB Ram, and a 64GB Hard Drive. A far cry from the MacBook’s 2.4Ghz processor, 13 inch screen and 250 GB Hard Drive, not to mention the MacBook Air’s lack of internal SuperDrive.

My own MacBook is a 4 year old Late 2007 Black MacBook with a 2.1Ghz processor, 4GB Ram, 500GB Hard Drive, and still beats the entry level MacBook Air even being a higher Spec MacBook than my mates new MacBook Pro.

With the MacBook gone we are left with only silver Apple notebooks, the unique white Apple notebook a thing of the past. But as well as this we are left with just one MacBook that boasts a SuperDrive, the MacBook Pro. But with Apple pushing forward a disc free world (The release of App Store) how long will it be till the MacBook Pro’s Super drive is eradicated or the Pro itself vanishes entirely?

While Lion is brought to us, in my mind a step backwards from the mighty Snow Leopard, we say goodbye to an Apple icon and an old friend. What will you remember 20.7.2011 for? The birth of a Lion or the end of an era? I know I for one will miss the opportunity to purchase a white MacBook.

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