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The Mystery Of Apple’s Missing MacBook

With the release of the Mac Pro this week, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro last month, Apple’s deskbound MacOS machines have been pushing the price point higher and higher, with increased specs for professional users.

What about those at the lower end of the portfolio, looking for an alternative to a Windows 10 laptop, those who want to keep their mobile devices in the same ecosystem, those who have a long relationship with Apple’s MacOS computers but find the rising price is too high for them to upgrade? And how can Apple bring new users to the platform

In short, where is the entry level MacBook, the point where everyone can start their journey? Right now, there isn’t one.

The lowest priced MacBook in the current portfolio is the MacBook Air, with a starting price of $1099 for 8 GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD based storage. I’m pretty sure that a laptop with prices starting at over a grand would not be considered an entry-level laptop by many customers.

Why should Apple be looking at a lower price point for a MacBook? It’s worth taking into account the amount of effort that Apple is putting into cloud-based services and applications. Perhaps the answer to an entry-level MacBook would be to follow Google’s path with the Chromebook options, push everything into a new branch Apple’s walled garden with improved services to match the offering from Google, while keeping the option of local applications and processing power for intensive tasks.

Arguably Apple has already something similar on the books. Take an iPad, add the Smart Keyboard Cover, and you have your equivalent of the Chromebook. The advantage of this solution is that Apple brings the consumers closer into Apple’s garden, with almost every transactions pushed through the App Store and the thirty percent rake, more opportunities to upsell users into Apple’s subscription-based services, and a good chance of locking them into Apple’s hardware eco system for the medium- to long-term.

Whether you consider a tablet and keyboard combo running the closed iPad OS a suitable replacement for a entry-level MacOS powered laptop is the big question.

I suspect Apple believes the answer is yes. Personally I’m in the no camp. While the iPad can hit some of the same functions as a laptop, the MacBook range is about delivering more power, more flexibility, and more customisation than the restricted options present in the iPad.

The MacBook family addresses and solves different problems than the iPad family. Not all of these problems are $1099 problems, but they are problems that countless consumers need addressed. By keeping the entry point to MacOS at such a high level, Apple is ignoring a significant market.

A software and services approach requires the widest possible user base. The wider the base you have, the more you can upsell. Apple needs a diverse product range that meets the needs of as many potential customers as possible. It doesn’t need to fight in the $199 Chromebook market, but Tim Cook and his team should consider the need for a competent laptop in the $799 to $999 range.

Now read how Apple turned the iconic MacBook brand into a supporting player…

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I am known for my strong views on mobile technology, online media, and the effect this has on the public conscious and existing businesses. I’ve been following this space for over ten years, working with a number of publishers, publications and media companies, some for long periods of time, others for commissions, one-off pieces or a series of articles or shows. As Scotland’s first podcaster, I continue to be a prominent voice in the rise of podcasting and new media online, and picked up a British Academy (BAFTA) nomination for my annual coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside contributions to Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, presenting Edinburgh local radio’s coverage of the General Election. You’ll find me on Twitter (@Ewan), Facebook, and Google Plus.

Source: The Mystery Of Apple’s Missing MacBook

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Alphabet’s DeepMind Losses Soared To $570 Million In 2018

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DeepMind, the Google-owned artificial intelligence firm on a mission to create human-level AI, had an expensive year in 2018, according to documents filed with the U.K.’s Companies House registry on Wednesday.

The London-based AI lab—founded in 2010 by Demis Hassabis, Mustafa Suleyman and Shane Legg—saw its pretax losses grow to $570 million (£470 million), up from $341 million (£281 million) in 2017, and $154 million (£127 million) in 2016.

DeepMind’s losses are growing because it continues to hire hundreds of expensive researchers and data scientists but isn’t generating any significant revenue. Amazon, Apple, Facebook are locked in an expensive battle with DeepMind and Alphabet to hire the world’s best AI experts, with the goal of building self-learning algorithms that can transform industries.

In 2018, DeepMind spent $483 million (£398 million) on around 700 employees, up from $243 million (£200 million) in 2017. Other significant costs included technical infrastructure and operating costs. In addition, DeepMind spent $17 million (£14 million) on academic donations and sponsorships.

DeepMind also spent $12 million (£9 million) on construction and $1.2 million (£1 million) on furniture and fixtures. The company is planning to move out of Google’s office in King’s Cross and into a new property around the middle of 2020.

While losses at DeepMind have grown, so to have the company’s revenues. Turnover almost doubled in 2018 to £103 million, up from £48 million in 2017. The firm sold some of its software to Google, which has used DeepMind’s AI systems to make the cooling units in its data centers more energy efficient, and improved battery life on Android devices. DeepMind does not make any money from its work with Britain’s National Health Service.

A DeepMind spokesperson provided Forbes with the following statement:

“We’re on a long-term mission to advance AI research and use it for positive benefit. We believe there’s huge potential for AI to advance scientific discovery and we’re really proud of the impact our work is already having in areas such as protein folding.

“Our DeepMind for Google team continues to make great strides bringing our expertise and knowledge to real-world challenges at Google scale, nearly doubling revenues in the past year. We will continue to invest in fundamental research and our world-class, interdisciplinary team, and look forward to the breakthroughs that lie ahead.”

In 2018, DeepMind also passed its Streams application for clinicians to Google. However, this transaction had not been completed by the time the financial statements were filed.

Yann LeCun, chief AI scientist at Facebook, said in an interview last year that he does not think DeepMind has yet proved its worth to Google, adding that DeepMind is too isolated to have a significant impact on the tech giant. “I wouldn’t want to be in the situation Demis [the CEO] is in,” he said.

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I’m a Staff Writer covering tech in Europe. Previously, I was a News Editor for Business Insider Australia, and prior to that I was a Senior Technology Reporter for Business Insider UK. My writing has also appeared in The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Wired, The Independent, and elsewhere. I have also appeared on the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Channel 5, Reuters TV, and spoken on Russia Today and Shares Radio. In 2015, I was shortlisted for Technology Journalist of the Year by the UK Tech Awards and in 2016 I was nominated as one of the 30 young journalists to watch by MHP Communications.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

 

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