Retina MBP and the Future

Back in 1998 Apple introduced the iMac – and it was a big step forward in computer history. For starters, it was the first computer that did away with the old floppy drive technology, and truly pushed what was the hot tech at the time: the CD drive.

And now, they’ve done it again. Watching the WWDC ’12 keynote, I noted a striking connection to the boldness of the original iMac: when CEO Tim Cook paused before revealing the inside of the new Retina MacBook Pro, commenting that the underside of Apple’s computers look better than most company’s actual design, it was as if Apple was lifting a caption from the marketing of that original iMac ( “the back of our computer looks better than the front of anyone else’s”).

But more importantly, it’s their constant push of that removal from the past, of forging a new way forward, that is the most striking factor of this new product. It’s superficial to be looking at the new Retina MacBook Pro and commenting that it’s purely the Retina screen that’s the single most important factor, and that 1 Infinite Loop has lost their technical guidance. Because it’s not about the exterior, but rather the engineering prowess embedded in the interior, that can truly signify the direction a technology company is headed in. Simply slapping a Retina onto a new computer is not the full approach Apple has here; rather, it’s a new way of thinking. And with the Retina MBP, Apple’s started over, and I think that’s the best approach, having been involved in software projects myself that required a refreshed way of thinking to solve new challenges (more on that in a later post).

Design and engineering require a level of precision unique to their trade; it’s a level of thinking about things and seeing things that is fundamentally different to other professions. This is clearly the case in the new MacBook Pro. From the tiniest of details – the asymmetrical fan blades that produce a variable frequency, thus making the fans appear to sound quieter than they actually are, and that draws cool air in from air-intakes on one side of the machine, allowing intelligent thermodynamic design to cool the innards of this beast, and then expelling it at the other side; the use of only Solid-State Drives, and, most significantly, the move away from including a superdrive (disc drive). These are factors that signify a push in the direction of the future, a push that once before in history ended the era of the floppy drive and ushered in the CD and DVD epoch.

The new MBP is the icon marking a new wave of computing, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.


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