Ever since the release of the most recent MacBook Air, Apple has made something very clear to people: solid state storage is the future across their entire product lineup.
Apple is certainly no stranger to solid state storage technology. Ever since they moved away from magnetic storage in their iPod lineup, but perhaps more importantly since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has been investing millions of dollars in securing long-term contracts with various manufacturers. By securing these long-term contracts, Apple has huge bargaining power, which enables them not only get the best pricing on solid state drives, but also access to the latest technological advancements. I don’t think anyone is beating them in this space yet.
We found out today that Apple purchased Anobit, a very large manufacturer of chip technology that ends up in solid state drives, for nearly 500 millions dollars.
Anobit has developed a chip that enhances flash drive performance through signal processing. The chip is already incorporated in Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad and the MacBook Air.
This isn’t the first time Apple has excercised its supply chain power — recall that story of Apple buying up all available air freight space at one point when they needed to make sure shipments of the translucent iMac were available for the following December holiday season.
To ensure that the company’s new, translucent blue iMacs would be widely available at Christmas the following year, Jobs paid $50 million to buy up all the available holiday air freight space, says John Martin, a logistics executive who worked with Jobs to arrange the flights.
I’ve been following all of the rumours about Apple’s plans for the next MacBook refresh. It seems plausible that by next year Apple will finally make the decision to pull the plug on optical drives across their entire product lineup: iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pros. I personally thought the last major refresh that came out earlier this year would have seen the removal of optical drives across the board, but since that didn’t happen, it seems like perfect timing to do it early next year.
The benefits are well known — if we remove the optical drive, we have extra space for more battery and possibly a slimmer design. It doesn’t matter if the MacBook lineup ends up looking at all like the Air, but what’s important is that everyone wants better battery life out of their laptops.
Since Apple is in such a great position now to bring prices down on SSD drives, while simultaneously increasing their storage capacity, I’d love to see SSD only MacBooks. The only question I have, which leaves me worried is whether or not these would be user replacable or not. Historically speaking, Apple has always made it increasingly difficult for users to get inside their hardware to make any changes. It could be something as simple as replacing standard Torx screws on the iPhone with their own strange Pentalobe screws, or even things like including custom SATA cables on the latest iMac — which include a temperature wire that makes it hard to replace the hard drive yourself.
If future MacBooks had fixed soldered on SSD drives and RAM, but the trade off would be that they could make the chassis considerably thinner and lighter, would you be willing to accept that?
It’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before magnetic storage goes away, at least as an option for boot drives on your iMac or MacBook Pro. I definitely support Apple’s decision if they decide to do this. We’ll at least have extremely fast external drive solutions that can make use of Thunderbolt if we need huge storage solutions for backups.