Interview: Sony's Thoughts On the MacBook Air

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During the Keynote, Jobs compared the Macbook Air to Sony's TZ ultraportable, implying it had a small keyboard and screen, was too thick, and was not that good. Here's what Sony thinks of the Apple MacBook Air:

Mike Abary, senior vice president of VAIO product marketing, thought the engineering to get a laptop that thin was extremely impressive. But Sony had a similiar vision for an ultraportable once, a carbon fiber notebook in 2004 called the X505 (above) that eschewed the optical and was 0.3 inches thick (compared to 0.16 of the Air) at its thinnest segment. It wasn't that well received, and research later pointed out that "Thinness is not the holy grail". Making something that thin and sexy cost it too much usability. (Many of you agree in the comments on Giz.)

To be fair, dropping an optical in 2004 made no sense, but it makes more sense in 2008, especially with broader internet connections, bittorrent, greater storage capacity, thumbdrives, and Apple's Remote optical drive tech which works over wireless N. But since the X505, ultra portables from Sony have evolved into the TZ, complete with LED backlight, a small but usable keyboard, plenty of ports and built in 3G data. So it is possible that Sony believes they are in many ways 4 years ahead of Apple in their understanding of what consumers want.


When the NYTimes pushed Jobs on the issues of limited storage, he responded, "Maybe this isn't the computer for you." I asked Mike who they thought the computer was for. "Beats me" was the initial reply, but came up with an answer: The extremely design conscious. I asked what feature he'd bring back to the Air, and without hesitating, he thought it should have for 3G.

I wish I could dismiss all of this as competitive trash talk, but too many of you feel the same conflicting feelings about where the Air fits into your collection of machines. At Giz, we're only tormented inside because we still want to buy it, despite it being not all that practical.