The Laptop And The Notebook: A Fable
Friday, Mar. 21, 2008 at 11:20am
Once upon a time there was a Laptop (AAPL) that belonged to a mid-sized wazir of the realm. It was a rather large laptop as laptops go, with a big, roomy heart filled with all kinds of good things, an impressive collection of ports, and big, strong hardware that could stand the test of any situation into which its owner might put it.
The Laptop had served its owner well for many moons and was proud of itself. "There is no function I cannot perform should my master demand it," it said to itself at times when it was charging, at rest after a long day at the office, on the couch at home, or on the road in a random hotel room somewhere. "Be it spreadsheet or word processing or even photography, I am up to the job." And then the Laptop slept as its owner did the same.
One day, when the market was doing nothing and American business was slogging through another day of senescence, lethargy and malaise, its owner was watching CNBC at his desk when a commercial came on. It showed a slender, lovely hand inserting a notebook computer into what looked like an 11"x14" envelope. This Notebook was so thin and light that it only took one little hand to slip it into that small enclosure, and was silver and carried a sexy logo to which the owner had already formed a symbiotic attachment.
"Wow," said the owner, "Yum yum yum." And so are major purchasing decisions always made.
And so the owner went to the online store that dispenses happiness for those who seek it in those quarters, and pre-ordered the bright and gleaming Notebook, along with the remote DVD drive that was necessary because the tiny unit did not have one built in. "That is a small compromise to make, given its amazing lightness and elegance," said the owner to himself. He also acquired all the necessary chargers, since his older ones were not quite right either. "All new hardware requires these kinds of initial investments," the owner added to himself.
Ironically, it was from the Laptop that the owner ordered all this new gear. "That's all right," the sad Laptop told itself as it conveyed the credit card information to the online store. "This is just a little Notebook my master can utilize when he's making short trips to the coast. Due to its tiny size, it cannot do all the wonderful things of which I am capable!" And the Laptop felt sanguine, as we all do for some reason even when it's not particularly warranted.
Then one day in the spring the new notebook arrived in a big box with the logo on it, the one for which the owner had already developed a drooling affection. And he opened up the box and there was the wafer-thin, juicy, sexy little Notebook. "Ah!" said the owner in a paroxysm of joy, and he held the thing to his bosom and the music swelled in his imagination and all was right with the world.
That night, the owner put the Laptop on a shelf in his closet. "Oh my," said the Laptop, looking around at the shelf on which it had been placed next to an IBM (IBM) ThinkPad and an old HP (HP) printer with nothing but serial ports. "This don't look good."
Several weeks went by. The owner and the Notebook went everywhere with each other and for a while they were very happy. True, he found the lack of a firewire port very annoying at first, since it made the transfer of data from his other computers -- once the soul of simplicity -- into a complex wireless process that he detested. And his face fell when he also realized that all of his remote hard drives no longer worked with the new Notebook, making his photos and iTunes folders suddenly difficult to access.
But the Notebook was indeed very light and easy to transport, and people did notice it wherever he went, which made him feel very good about himself (at least for a while, until everybody else started having one). He barely complained when the wireless feature on the new computer had difficulty reading his existing network. After only two nights of cursing and yelling, that problem was solved as well. So he was happy for a while.
Then one day he took the Notebook on a transcontinental flight. For some reason, on this particular journey, he was not upgraded to Business and was therefore consigned to a Coach seat that had no power outlet. "This will be no problem," he said rather smugly to himself, "since my new Notebook is advertised to have five hours of battery life." As the plane took off from New York, he took out the silver platter and began working.
After about ten minutes, he saw the battery indicator slip from the original 5:00 hours quite abruptly down to 3:25. "Hm!" he exclaimed to himself. "That can't be right." He turned off the wireless feature and dimmed the screen in hopes of extending battery life but within a few moments the indicator had now slipped to 2:20. "Well," he muttered to nobody in particular, "This bites."
In the end, the owner got about three hours of use out of the Notebook, perhaps a little less. In the old days, he would simply have swapped out a new battery into his old Laptop, which was now languishing in the closet back in New York. But the new Notebook, as a concession to weight and overall bulk, had a built-in battery that could not be replaced with a fresh one and required a full charge before it could pop into maximum life again. The owner said nothing. But something shifted in his heart.
When he returned to New York, he put the Notebook on his nightstand and plugged it in. "You're cute," he said to it, running his hand along its sleek, smooth skin. Then he went to the closet and got the Laptop down. "Hello old friend," he said to the Laptop.
He opened it up and remembered a few things, like how many tunes he had stored on its capacious hard drive, and how he really didn't mind the old operating system, which somehow felt a bit more solid and well-baked, and how it was nice to have 30 gigs of photos at his disposal, and how much he appreciated the ability to watch movies and burn DVDs from a dedicated optical drive, not to mention how nice it is to have every port a person might need right at one's fingertips.
Today, the owner still takes the little Notebook here and there, like when he's going to Starbucks (SBUX) for a cup of coffee and a few hours on the web, or perhaps when he's definitely upgraded transcontinentally to a seat that for sure has a power jack. The rest of the time, however, the Laptop is still #1 in his life and will be for quite some time to come... unless he gets really serious about the Big Mother Desktop he's had his eye on for a while.
But that, my friends, will be another story entirely.