Nipping At Apple's Heels (10/17/00)
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Anybody who denies that Apple turned the industry on its ear when it introduced the original iMac needs to stop snorting the Windex. Sure, plenty of pundits at the time scoffed at the idea that a translucent, brightly-colored computer would even draw the public's attention, let alone provoke the rest of the beige-box manufacturers to start incorporating style into the equation. That all changed once the iMac actually shipped, and suddenly all those beige-heads found themselves scrambling to cash in on the translucency phenomenon.

These days, of course, style is an ever-increasing factor in the computer industry-- but hardly anyone seems able to get it right. Either we see blatant rip-offs of Apple's designs, or original work that just hurts the eyes (and not in a Key Lime way). There's one big exception, though: Sony. Now there's a company that knows how to design for form as well as function. So Apple should be pretty nervous about Sony's new line of VAIO laptops, fresh from under the tarp as of yesterday. A Reuters article pointed out by faithful viewer Ken Hall has more details on the two newcomers. One sports a "radically new translucent design" including a "light gray aluminum pipe... connecting into a fold-out handle" which is starting to make the current PowerBook's essentially two-and-a-half-year-old curvy black design seem positively outdated. The other is a scary-looking cyborg-style deal, which melds a laptop with a camcorder. It's Borg-like, to be sure, but it's still excitingly chunky and cool-- at least, as cool as it can be while still running Windows. Come on, admit it: doesn't seventeen hours of battery life, thanks to Transmeta's Crusoe processor, make you drool?

All of which has us wondering whether Apple's rumored PowerBook G4 will still be able to kick as much butt when it finally surfaces at (hopefully) this January's Macworld Expo. Between Sony working its magic on the laptop side, and Handspring's new Visors pushing the envelope in the handheld market (one that Apple created and continues to ignore), it's hard to feel that our favorite innovator isn't slowing down just a little. Here's hoping for some big, Apple-flavored surprises bursting forth from Cupertino-- and soon.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 10/17/00 episode:

October 17, 2000: Fred Anderson prepares for his big performance tomorrow, as Apple warms up the QuickTime Streaming Servers for the live webcast. Meanwhile, Dataquest once again claims that Dell has overtaken Apple in the education market; haven't we heard this before? And Sony introduces a couple of new laptops that may really give the PowerBook's aging design a run for its money...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2616: All Ears Are On Fred (10/17/00)   Happy Rebound Eve! Or is it the day before Black Wednesday? Everything hinges on what money dude Fred Anderson says when he hosts that conference call with the analysts tomorrow after the market closes...

  • 2617: The OTHER Brain Drain (10/17/00)   Houston, we have a problem. Everyone knows that Apple's recent earnings warning blamed the fourth-quarter shortfall in part on slowing sales in the education market. And longtime viewers are well aware that while Apple once ruled that market as the undisputed king, its share has been dwindling in dribs and drabs over the course of the last several years...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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