Not Much Enterprise in Apple

The most interesting announcement--and this may be putting it too strongly--was the 17-inch MacBook Pro. This larger-screened notebook completes the MacBook Pro family that already comprises 13- and 15-inch offerings. I'm not saying this bigger Mac isn't cool, because it is; it's just there isn't a lot to say about a notebook that so closely resembles its existing siblings.

In the Apple keynote at MacWorld, CEO Steve Jobs was played by Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. It was an evolutionary keynote with just a few points of note for enterprise IT managers.

This isn't surprising--Macworld is a prosumer and Mac affection ado event, not an enterprise IT show. The gloomy overcast of the 2008--and now 2009--recession, combined with Jobs' absence, cast a pall over the proceedings. For the enterprise IT audience, the only announcements that warranted attention were the 17-inch MacBook Pro and iWork.com.

The most interesting announcement--and this may be putting it too strongly--was the 17-inch MacBook Pro. This larger-screened notebook completes the MacBook Pro family that already comprises 13- and 15-inch offerings. I'm not saying this bigger Mac isn't cool, because it is; it's just there isn't a lot to say about a notebook that so closely resembles its existing siblings.

With the 17-inch MacBook Pro, Apple again claims the thinnest and lightest mantle for this category. Officials also said the battery lasts up to eight hours on a single charge and that it can be re-charged up to 1,000 times for an effective five-year service life.

The battery is permanently mounted inside the system. When it dies, the whole 17-inch unit either heads back to Apple to get a new one (now listed at $179) installed or it gets recycled. Given the emphasis the keynote placed on the "green" manufacturing process that makes the MacBook Pro less toxic, it seemed clear that Apple is thinking most will choose to recycle.

With a suggested price of $2,799 for the 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo proces-sor , 4GB of RAM, integrated and discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics and a 320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, this will only be suitable for users who must have access to professional software that runs only on the Mac.

iWork.com is a new service from Apple to share iWork '09 documents online. Mash up Google Apps with Microsoft Works--or a scaled-back version of Office--and (eventually) add subscription pricing, and you have the basic picture of iWork.com. It is, perhaps, MobileMe's first younger sibling. iWork.com is a little richer in its delivery in that it enables sharing of Keynote (think PowerPoint), Pages (think Word) and Numbers (think Excel) with extensive revision notes. After uploading an item, the user can invite others to view and comment on the work product.

iWork.com was announced as a publicly available beta during the keynote. You must already own iWorks '09 to use the service. Competitor Google Apps Premier edition is $50 per user account per year but requires nothing beyond a browser on the end user system. Pricing for the iWork.com paid service was not released, but Schiller said it will be sold.

The rest of the announcements--as far as enterprise IT managers are concerned--can be boiled down to bulk. The tools to create large video, audio and photo files are being pushed further into the hands of larger numbers of people. If these people actually master even a small portion of the capabilities of these tools, there is a very good chance that users sitting in a work cubicle are going to want to download or stream these large sized files.

Where in the past network bandwidth was protected from being swamped with user content by the likelihood that home content was so bad no one would watch, the tools in iLife may start to reverse this trend. After seeing a demo of the enhanced Places, Faces and Events features in iPhoto, which let users easily tag a few photo subjects and then turn the program loose on large volumes of previously stored image content for auto-mated tagging and cataloging, I was tempted to buy a Mac for my home.

The real highpoint of the keynote session was a musical performance by Tony Bennett that wrapped up the session. It's hard to make "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" sound fresh, but I got goose shivers as I listened. But that's not really important to enterprise IT managers, either. ´