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How the MacBook Air remade the notebook world

Apple Talk: Ultrabook builders have learned a lesson that Apple has long preached

...one of Apple's most beautiful failures? Thankfully not. Apple rejuvenated the line, adding the smaller, ultraportable 11-inch model to the range.

In relaunching the MacBook Air, Apple gave a preview at some of the design principles it would later deliver with Mac OS X Lion. Lion took some inspiration from some of the best innovations of the iOS with its theme of Back to the Mac - in other words taking some of the key software and hardware features of the iPad and iPhone and applying them to the Mac.

At the relaunch of the MacBook Air, Steve Jobs noted: "We think that this is the future of notebooks. In the future we think all notebooks will be made this way."

That this prediction is coming to pass is good news for a couple of reasons.

First, because first and foremost I am a Mac user. My first Apple product was a PowerBook, bought long before the iPod and iOS devices were glints in the eye of Jobs. My loft contains six Macs in various states of disassembly. My wife despairs.

In Apple's recent stellar quarterly results, the 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPad sales were the figures that caught the eye but the five million Macs sold was the most pleasing number. As global PC sales decline so the Mac continues not just to endure but shine - the MacBook Air has assured the platform of a bright future.

Secondly, while the Ultrabook name is clearly marketing nonsense, no doubt thought up by men in suits to appeal to other men in suits, the computing paradigm it represents is exciting, melding form and function, power and portability. In other words, adopting the design principles of the MacBook Air.

Who would have thought that other PC manufacturers would end up prizing form as much as function? At last, the industry beyond Apple and a few other companies has realised that the two concepts aren't mutually exclusive. Another Jobs legacy?

The MacBook Air-Ultrabook model is inspiring other computer manufacturers to take a punt at a time when traditional PC product lines are struggling and injecting new life into the notebook segment.

It's a compelling model and if the end result is that we all end up using better kit then, personally, I'm happy to tolerate a bit of guff.

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