The creep to the low end

It’s a design truism that high-end design features eventually find their way to the low end, rendering them the most accessible to the masses and therefore undesirable to those who consider themselves of the elite.

Have we seen this happen to aluminum at Apple? What started as an executive-level product in the 17” and 12” PowerBooks had a healthy life with the professional PowerMac G5s, and with the updated Intel versions of these products. Aluminum is now all over the low-end iPod range, most significantly with the 2GB iPod nano and the 1GB, $79 iPod shuffle. Can a professional designer continue on with a computer that now adorns the most “toy-like” product in Apple’s product line?

I think that the next product refresh of the MacBookPro and the MacPro may see a new casing, a new fashion, and a step forward from the “continuity” message that was so important in the Intel transition. Anyone who has paid any attention to Apple during 2006 has received that message loud and clear: Intel Macs are indeed fully Macs, only faster. I’m inclined to think Apple will move forward with black, as that has represented premium pricing lately. My co-worker’s new Core Duo Sony Vaio makes a compelling case that Carbon Fibre could be a nice path, but then it would seem strange and unlikely for Apple to follow Sony’s lead on this, so soon after Sony is caught in imitation of Apple style.