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Dropping Bad Ideas

Entry 906, on 2008-12-09 at 21:38:19 (Rating 1, Computers)

In the past Apple has been a leader in dropping technologies and ideas which are just bad. When they did this many people were horrified and wondered what they thought they were doing, but Apple has always turned out to be right and has never had to re-introduce a technology they previously dropped.

For example, I remember the disbelief when the iMac was introduced and it didn't have a floppy drive! People wondered how they would survive without one. At the time flash drives were small in capacity and expensive so there wasn't actually a great alternative available. Maybe Apple dropped the old technology a bit early in that case but it has helped bring flash drives into much wider use and they are now both very high in capacity (thousands of times bigger than a floppy) and very cheap, as well as being much more reliable and faster than floppies.

Other areas where Apple dropped old technologies before any other major manufacturer include: parallel ports, serial ports, and even (in the case of the MacBook Air) an ethernet port! (that one, I think, is definitely a bit early because fast wireless is still a bit hard to find).

So what is the point of this history lesson? Well, Apple are at it again. In the latest MacBooks they have dropped the firewire port and the option for a matte screen. I think firewire is the finest connection technology around: its fast, easy to use, and very reliable. Its so much better than USB which has, unfortunately, taken over from firewire even on digital video cameras.

And glossy screens are great for many people because they make the colours look more saturated and impressive, but they are less accurate in colour rendition and, of course, suffer from reflection which matte screens mostly avoid. I'm using two laptops right now - a 17" MacBook Pro with a matte screen, and a MacBook with a glossy screen - and the Pro is definitely my choice even if the glossy screen looks more spectacular at first glance.

Maybe I'm being just like the people who denounced the loss of floppy drives, but I don't think so. Floppies were clearly an inferior technology and the more quickly we stopped using them the better it was. Moving from firewire to USB is not a move to a better technology: its quite the opposite. And at least give us the option of a matte screen on the MacBook Pro Apple, some of us do serious photo and video work and we want accuracy not a screen which is just more impressive to amateurs!

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Comment 1 (1822) by Andrew on 2008-12-10 at 10:43:34:

This sort of Apple behaviour annoys me. Do they ask their own customers before removing firewire or insisting on those silly glossy screens? the macbook air is an exception as it is a "special" model.

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Comment 2 (1823) by OJB on 2008-12-10 at 21:12:08:

As I said above, Apple has tended to make the right long term decisions in the past but I don't know if they have this time. I don't know if asking the customer is really the right approach, but I would like some more choice, even if its a build to order option.

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