Yesterday Ben posted his review of the new Apple Watch and today I posted my overview of my experience with the new MacBook. Both of these products signal a major move by Apple towards a level of miniaturization we really have not had in laptops and wearables in that they are cramming a boatload of sophisticated electronics into amazingly small packages. You will note in Ben’s piece he often refers to the Apple Watch as a wrist computer. In my MacBook piece, I point out the iPhone team influenced the MacBook’s logic board and this board is the equivalent of two iPhone motherboards. Both of these devices’ logic boards represent a new type of computing design that will have a major impact on Apple’s future computing products.
When I spoke with various PC OEM and ODMs about this new MacBook, they were all caught off guard about the idea of having a smartphone motherboard design team interact and influence the designs of a laptop. In fact, the thought had not even crossed their minds. This will influence their future designs and you can bet they will add smartphone motherboard designers to their laptop logic board teams going forward. This is good news for us road warriors. Mac users already have the best of breed in an ultra-thin but this will force the OEMs and ODMs to try and match Apple and ultimately give us thinner and lighter Windows machines in the very near future.
But this signals an important strategic position Apple has at the moment. They have one of the best designers in the world in Jony Ives, who has as part of his tool box some of the best semiconductor, logic board and wireless engineers in the world at Apple. And they seem to be pushing the envelope of miniaturization into their next generation of devices, which will impact the physical designs of products as well how much powerful technology they cram inside these products to make them smaller, smarter, sleeker and yet be powerful enough to meet the needs of intended customers. While the current MacBook is small and thin now, you can imagine Apple being able to add even more power and functionality into this small package as they evolve their miniaturization of the electronics into this and future MacBook laptops. This will impact processing efficiencies and power management and allow them to continue to “reinvent” the laptop with each new generation of MacBooks they create.
I also look at what they have done with the Apple Watch and see how miniaturization plays a key role in the design of this product. The logic board on an Apple Watch is a miniaturized version of an iPhone logic board and, while it does not have the same power or functionality as an iPhone, it does have significant processing power and multiple antennas to make it very powerful in its own right as a wearable that compliments the iPhone. This first generation Apple Watch clearly needs an iPhone to function properly but, if Apple’s miniaturization skills continue in this direction, it is possible that eventually the Apple Watch could be a smartphone in its own right by version three or four and make the Apple Watch even more of a personal computer on the wrist than it is today.
Apple’s marriage of hardware, design, software, services and miniaturization plus the fact they own this entire ecosystem seems to be a very powerful differentiator over the competition and should serve them well as they continue to reinvent the laptop, wearables and who knows what else they have in mind by using this powerful formula to stay ahead of the competition.