Comment: iBook? eBook? Or NoBook?


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Further to Ron Carlson's story on the rumored iBooks he reported earlier today on IGM, one question pops up: is Apple taking the iBook upmarket?

Considering that Apple has taken the LCD iMac well and truly out of budget territory, the notion of a heavier and more powerful iBook isn't far fetched - but what will the price be?

Regardless of whether Apple releases new iBooks this week, there will be two key things Mac notebook buyers will be watching carefully.

Price and size.

While the most recent iBook revision cut prices and added power and features, the LCD iMac intro added impressive equipment, while also boosting prices significantly.

Megahertz doesn't matter.

Correction. MHz does matter. But not as much as price, size and equipment. If 500MHz of G3 was as bad as the sneering Wintrolls made out, Apple wouldn't have sold a single iceBook. But the equipment levels and unbelieveable prices - particularly in comparison with previous 366/466 'clamshell' models - made the May 2001 iBook an incredible bargain.

Size does matter.

Yes it does - when we're talking portables. The 14.1" model has been regarded as an aberration, an oversize clone that's too big, too heavy and spoils the design concept of the original 12.1" iceBook. It adds no greater screen resolution, a longer-lasting battery, much more size - and weight.

Ah, weight. At 5.9lbs, the iBook 14.1 is as heavy as the Lombard and Pismo G3s, and around the same size. Furthermore, say the critics, the keyboard's no different and the 14.1" complete wrecks the Duo-like 4.9lb compactness of the original iBook.

Which brings us back to eBook.

Why has Apple raised TiBook prices? Surely not because it's an all-new design, because it's not. Which means, if the iBook 14.1" is to become the mid-range model, that Apple is making space.

For a really cheap education portable.

Okay, well probably not that cheap. And it won't have a CRT either. But it will probably be a stripped 12.1" model to sell into schools when they baulk at the price of the 14.1s.

Remember what Apple said at the launch of the original iBook in '99: "We don't sell many PowerBooks into schools." Dead right they didn't, at around $2K a pop for virtually any model you care to mention over the last 7 years. Even the 1995 PowerBook 190 came in at a cool two grand. Wallstreets at the low end were cheaper, but it was really the $1,599 Tangerine and Blueberry iBooks that got Mac portables into schools. And what a rip off $1,599 sounds. Not so at the time though.

If O'Grady's right (and he was last week with TiBook), then I'd bet on "another thing" as well. Care to wager?