New MacBook, New Cloud, New Leaf
Expectations regarding new MacBook Pro models are running hot, and Apple's upcoming WWDC would be a likely time for the company to show them off. A revamp for iOS and iCloud could also be around the corner. But in addition to new products, Apple may want to also consider a new approach to security, considering the recent spate of malware to hit the Mac platform.
05/16/12 5:00 AM PT
Apple computer users might soon have a thinner, lighter version of the MacBook, according to numerous reports.
The new design will apparently still bear the "MacBook Pro" name but will more closely resemble an Ultrabook -- thin, light and affordable PC laptops. It will supposedly feature a high-definition screen similar to the ones found on iPhones and iPads. Perhaps most importantly, the new product wouldn't compromise battery life or memory for the sleeker design. Flash memory for fast startup and long battery life will also purportedly be found in Apple's upcoming notebook refresh, which is expected to appear at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June. The new product could preview as early as the worldwide developers conference Apple will host in June.
The decision to go thin is in line with customer demand, Ben Bajarin, director and founder of Creative Strategies, told MacNewsWorld.
"As things like UltraBooks and thin-and-lights become more pervasive, consumers will be used to seeing these thin designs as the only things available," he said. "So it would seem likely that Apple, with the MacBook Pro, lines would look for hardware designs that press the envelope with thin and light as well."
A MacBookPro that's just as powerful as before and yet more mobile would be appealing to a certain crowd, and the groups that Apple targets with their notebook lines are specific enough that there will be a market for all types of customers, he added.
"They have a segment in mind when they make the hardware. The MacBook Air is targeted at the end user who values the most performance in the most portable hardware. Whereas things like the MacBook Pros have been targeted at those who value performance more than mobility but still needed something more mobile than a desktop. So with that in mind, I can see them make hardware design modifications but they can't sacrifice performance in those lines for mobility due to the segments value of performance."
Apple's next line of MacBooks might be sleek, but there are rising concerns about their security, and the security of all Mac products. A rash of Mac-targeting malware has drawn attention lately. Flashback, which peaked several weeks ago, was the largest cyberattack yet on Mac computers, infecting hundreds of thousands. The company took heat for taking months to issue a fix, and several security experts called it a wake-up call for Mac users that through they aren't invulnerable to malware.
"It has been a long-held belief by the public and media that Windows is insecure and Mac OS is secure," Chris Pickard, research & methodology director of MRG Effitas and CEO of Effitas Group, told MacNewsWorld. "This is not the case. Windows has appeared insecure as it has been subject to years of attacks from hundreds of thousands of new pieces of malware every day, whereas the Mac has not been attacked in this way. So, people have assumed it was inherently safe and immune to these threats. It is not."
One of the security experts that recently suggested Apple needs to focus on tightening protection is Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of a security company of the same name. But that could be a big job, said Pickard, considering Apple computers are relatively new to the scene and security vendors and researchers aren't as familiar with the operating system.
"The fact that OS X has so many vulnerabilities, coupled with the fact that there are comparatively few security solutions for this OS means that in our opinion, there will be an explosion in Mac malware in the next few months," he said.
To avoid those and future attacks, said Pickard, it might have to take a page out of Microsoft's book.
"Microsoft has been very good at discovering vulnerabilities in its OS and applications, and there is a well-established, two-way line of communication between it and external security researchers," he said. "This relationship does not exist in the same way with Apple. We suggest Apple needs to adopt the approach of Microsoft if it is to protect its users."
Apple's iCloud might also be undergoing a revamp, according to The Wall Street Journal. A makeover for the cloud storage could include new social networking features, especially highlighting a photo- and video-sharing feature. It will also allow iCloud users to access their Notes and Reminders from their other Apple devices.
The features would be part of the company' upcoming mobile operating system, iOS 6, which Apple is expected to preview at its upcoming developer conference in June.
The new set of features would be the first major addition to the service since Apple launched iCloud last fall. It seems as though the company recognized that highlighting the photo and social aspect of a cloud service will be critical for it to be a competitor in the growing space, Larry Carvalho, owner of RobustCloud, told MacNewsWorld.
"With a digital interface, customers are less likely to get their information from traditional sources like broadcast TV and print newspapers," he said. "Delivering content through pictures is hugely popular, as evidence by the success of Pinterest and Instagram. The same will hold true for videos because of the amount of information that can be effectively transmitted by 30 seconds of video is much better than any other medium."
The photo feature would allow to not only store additional pictures, but also share them with other iCloud users and allow commenting on shared photos, mirroring features on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Flickr. The upgrade won't come without a cost, but despite concerns about investing in a pricey upgrade in a space that hasn't yet gained mainstream popularity, Carvalho said, it's a smart move to get iCloud as current as possible.
"Apple cannot afford to ignore this upcoming threat," said Carvalho. "The cost of ignoring this is greater than the risk of not investing in it. There is a set of loyal Apple users who will use Apple for the quality of the user interface, not for all the quantity of storage."
Apple didn't respond to our requests for comment.