The Real Significance of the new Macbook and Apple Watch Designs

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.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

7 thoughts on “The Real Significance of the new Macbook and Apple Watch Designs”

  1. It’s an industry-wide move though, not just Apple. There are plenty of similar size/specs smartwatches, some even manage to include a 3G radio (certainly useful) or a full-blown mobile OS (more dubious).
    The latest major product category, phablets, did not originate w/ Apple. Neither did the probably-next one, smartwatches. That’s not the end of the world, I’m sure Apple wil carve out a nice chunk of sales and an even nicer chunk of profits for each. Getting told Apple are inventing or reinventing everything every time they release their me-too version of stuff that’s been available for years is getting tiring.

    1. “Getting told Apple are inventing or reinventing everything every time they release their me-too version of stuff that’s been available for years is getting tiring.”

      It’s interesting how the rest of the industry’s products slowly change to look and work more like Apple’s “me-too” products though. All PCs now work like Macs, all smartphones work like the iPhone now, all tablets are pretty much like the iPad, and we’ll likely see the pattern repeat in wearables. I’m talking big picture here of course, it isn’t terribly useful to get caught in the weeds of “But, but device X had a touchscreen before the iPhone!” Yeah, and so did the Newton. But nothing worked like an iPhone, until the actual iPhone. And so on. It’s also interesting to note that Apple’s products are mocked at first (has any Apple product not been laughed at when it launched?), before they gradually influence the entire industry.

      1. 1- This is not as one-sided as you say, but goes both ways. the 6+ is directly inspired from Samsung’s seminal phablets, the iPod aped preexisting MP3/video players, even the original iPhone (the one that couldn’t run apps) didn’t hold a candle to a Palm Tungsten, the latest iOS mostly copies Android features, as does Apple’s new dev language. The list goes on…
        2- Not *all* Apple products are category-making. I understand Apple customers have been hankering after a thin-and-light hi-rez laptop for a while, but the Windows world has had those forever.
        3- Even when Apple products do validate a category, there’s no shame in admitting it’s mainly because of branding and cuteness. Trying to re-write history saying Apple invented wrist computers or smartwatches is simply preposterous.

        1. “mainly because of branding and cuteness”

          Well, we can all pack it in and go home now, obart has *nailed* the secret to Apple’s success. Well done!

        2. “mainly because of branding and cuteness”

          Yes, and maybe also massively profitable and overwhelming leadership marketshare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *