Analyst: NanoBook to run OS X lite; ship in late 2007

Analyst: NanoBook to run OS X lite; ship in late 2007

Summary: Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research says that a new notebook, which I've been calling the nanoBook, will finally ditch the spinning hard disk drive mechanism in favor of faster flash memory. A news item on Reuters by Philipp Gollner explains: Apple Inc.


Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research says that a new notebook, which I've been calling the nanoBook, will finally ditch the spinning hard disk drive mechanism in favor of faster flash memory. A news item on Reuters by Philipp Gollner explains:

Apple Inc. may sell zippy notebook computers later this year that use the same type of fast memory as music players and digital cameras, driving down prices of hard-disk drives, an analyst said on Thursday.

I've been pondering a diskless Mac notebook since at least December of 1995 and frankly the idea's time has come. There are numerous reasons why a diskless MacBook (or nanoBook) is the next logical progression of the notebook computer:

Flash notebooks make a lot of sense because they can boot instantly and run longer on battery power because they don't have to spin up a magnetic hard disk drive (the most power consuming process of an HDD). All this should add up to as much as twice the battery life we get from current MacBooks and MBPs. Apple has some of the strongest buying power of NAND flash memory in the business because of their market dominating iPod. It doesn't hurt that Apple holds supplier arrangements with the world's five-largest NAND suppliers, either.

What's interesting about the Reuters piece is that Wu claims that the nanoBook would run the stripped down, multi-touch version of Mac OS X that will ship with iPhone as opposed to the full-blown version:

Apple would use a miniature version of its Mac OS X operating system in the flash-based subnotebook computers, Wu said, again citing unnamed sources. The computers could be introduced in the second half of this year, he said.

I think that this would be a mistake because it would be the same closed OS that's on the iPhone and users need to be able to install their own software for a notebook computer to be viable.

[poll id=40] 

Topic: Apple

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  • Depending on the target audience, OS X Lite might not be bad

    I don't think the OS X lite would be inherently bad for the platform, depending on the features of the device the price and the target audience. If you think about it most users pretty much stick to the built in OS X applications to check email, surf the web and do some other minor tasks. What that all hinges on is price, and it would have to be priced significantly less then the current Macbook line. I suppose the key selling point here would be the ultra portability, but no one is realistically going to pay more to get less. I have heard that this device would also be without a disk drive as well.

    Can a super small micro-processor with web and email functionality sell well? Sure I think it can. The OLPC has a ton of interest, and I think there are plenty of people out there who would be interested in something like that to take with them on that quick jaunt out to the coffee shop or to the airport or on vacation. But, I think we would have to look at something significantly cheap, under $500. Actually the more that I think about this, this really does just seem to be a lot like the OLPC or the Classmate, but just a little bit higher end. Basically more memory and I presume some more processor power.

    When a basic full featured Macbook $999 there has to be some compromises, but I myself do think there is a market for these sort of lower powered ultra-small and ultra-high effciency sort of devices. My Macbook is great, but if I could get a cheap device that I could carry with me when I go out to lunch that is ultra portable just to work on some writing or blog posts, I would personally totally flip the bill for something with a few GB's of storage (or even less) if the price is right. If the OLPC came out tomorrow for for personal use I would buy one, because I could see using its features in unique situations. I could justify $150 or a little bit more on just an ultra portable word processor. Like wise a nanoBook too I would spend money on if the price is right and the features right. For me however that would be $400 or less.
    • hmm

      "I don't think the OS X lite would be inherently bad for the platform, depending on the features of the device the price and the target audience. If you think about it most users pretty much stick to the built in OS X applications to check email, surf the web and do some other minor tasks."

      So then it's basically the iPhone without the phone? What's the point of doing that?

      Given the choice, I would think most who would buy one or the other would just buy the iPhone.
      • Unless they're unhappy with Cingular...

        Unless they're unhappy with Cingular or have a CDMA based service.

        Apple would be filling a niche, niche, niche market, like Windows Mobile Palmtops. They're bigger than your average Palm pilot, but really no more powerful. They don't run a different OS than the pilots. They just look like miniature laptops. They're impracticle. You might as well get a laptop to leave at home/work, and a Palm pilot to sync with it.

        That Origami/UMPC went nowhere. Maybe Apple can do something with it. However, that would mean it'd have to run the full version of OS X.
      • You can't do word processing on an iPhone

        You cannot do word processing on an iPhone and it has no keyboard. The screen is pretty small too.

        Think back to the OLPC and expand the idea. Small form factor with 7-9" screen. Word processing and Internet access. Swivel to a tablet with touch screen, maybe even e-paper? How useful would that be for taking notes at conferences or meetings? Almost perfect for the classroom for college students. I could see law students jumping all over something like that.

        Perhaps live or mobile blogging? Even word processing? With the internet access I could pass my documents and email as much as I needed. Tons of journalists and bloggers would love something like that to bring to the conferences and interviews that they goto.

        Would I be willing to pay $500 for that? Sure I would. If the OLPC can offer that for lets just say $200, a slightly higher feature set could be done for the $500 range. Those types of processes don't require the +2GHZ processor. I think however though that Apple will miss the boat on this one and try to offer too much power for the target of the device and hence price themselves out.

        A full flash device that is small is much more inclined to be a note taking/mobile document platform then a full on computer.
    • Please explain

      [i]I don't think the OS X lite would be inherently bad for the platform[/i]

      Knowing all that you know about OSX lite, why do you feel that you can make any judgment on it one way or the other? From what has been released about OSX lite (no support for java, no ability to install 3rd party apps on it, full of DRM), I'm thinking that OSX lite [b]is[/b] inherently bad for the platform, especially when you compare it to what Microsoft released years ago.
    • This boat sinks in the harbor

      The fundumental reason that Apple has success in the PC market is ease of use and consistancy. I am thinking if the average user can run iLife or other OSX app on an iMac, you probably would not want to tell them they can not run the same stuff on a nanoBook (even if at a lower / slower rate). Apple will have shot themselves in the foot - which of course they are capable of doing - if they chose that approach. OSX is a reason to buy the hardware - hobbling it into different products increases development / support costs to Apple and customer confusion / dissatifaction to the public ("OSX 10.7 upgrade ... Full or Lite? one is $129.. the other is $69? What-da-ya-mean I can not use Lite on my MacPro - the boxes both say OS from Apple?".. I am sure that would work in marketing - NOT HA!). And as always Apple is a hardware company so software is a sideline to sell hardware - not a profit center on its own per se. Apple would be better off poking another flash chip in this non-existent product than butchering the OS to fit.

      Love the idea of a dock for this thing - what ever it is, by the way, from another post to this column...
  • Price will be the factor...

    Apple's price point on such a device will probably be the deciding factor, and has
    been why there's not much between a PDA and a laptop after all these years
    (remember the old Radio Shack Model 100?). It would appear, with Internet access
    everywhere, that a web browser, email station might have a market, if it was under
    $500. It seems that MS has tried to tap this market for years, but the broad buyer
    base doesn't want to buy a hybrid when it's either the phone/pda or the complete
    laptop, weight, battery life and all other limitations.

    Lighter is better, but I won't sacrifice my keyboard, if I'm not using a PDA. And by
    the way, why hasn't anyone brought back out an integrated handle for laptops? Is
    it that hard?
    • dreamers...

      You folks are dreaming if you think a 'NanoBook' will be cheap, at under $500. Look at the pricing of the mini, a disk-based screenless computer. The base model is $600. Apple does not do low margin items.

      Factor in flash memory being quite expensive and I'd venture to guess that a 32 gig NanoBook isn't going to retail for anything less that $1500, more likely in th4 $2000 range.

      Sandisk is coming out with a flash-ram drive:

      From the article:
      "SanDisk packaged the drive into a 1.8-inch package, mostly to make it easier for notebook makers to adopt it. The package can be shrunk (to reduce the overall size of the notebook) or increased," Kanellos reports. "The drive will also add about US$600 to the cost of a notebook."

      $600 more to a computer that only will sport 32 gig for storage.
      • It's Intel's dream come true

        Have you seen this video?

        Apple will finally produce a UMPC that everyone will lust for.

        The trade-off for 32 GB will be easy, high availability wireless connectivity. This
        thing will have to do every kind of wireless function short of 'beam me up scotty'.
      • Exactly

        Apple has never done cheap, they always cater to the high-end market.

        That means you can also forget a stripped down OS X. Apple, like it always does will use the cutting edge technology to push the envelope of what is possible in a full-featured computer.

        IF Apple does this, expect it to replace the 12" G4 Powerbook. It will likely have 40 GB Flash RAM, a slot loading optical drive and LED backlighting and will cost AT LEAST $2000. And it will probably have a 12 hour battery life.
        • If it doesn't have GMA integrated video...

          If it doesn't have GMA integrated video, I'd buy one. :)
          • Integrated video

            Unless you're playing cutting edge games, the GMA video is just fine, and I seriously doubt someone is going to buy a 12" ultra portable with a small flash hard drive as a serious gaming machine.

            I used to despise integrated video, too, but I will give Intel credit in making a pretty decent integrated graphics chip.
          • Very true...

            Very true, the type of people buying something like that probably wouldn't be worrying about video.

            Sure would be nice if they moved away from GMA on the MacBook line, though.
  • Maybe other uses

    Flash drives could be used in a few ways. On a full sized laptop to give instant boot
    and decrease hard drive access, giving in return somewhat longer battery life or
    smaller form factor with smaller battery. Or a low power NanoBook type device that is
    more net centric ideal for classroom use. Keep it cheap integrate it heavily within a
    network and give it a 12+ hour battery life and I could see these things filling up
    classrooms from K to College. Make it a tablet, ruggedize it and you have a field unit
    for real time sales etc....
    • Won't happen

      You described a bunch of niche computer hardware. Apple doesn't do niche computer hardware. Their computers are always full featured.

      Apple also isn't afraid to charge $$$ for high-end machines, and a flash ram, LED backlit 1 pound full-featured laptop with instant on and 12-15 hour battery life would definitely fall under high-end. I'd be surprised if it sold for less than $2000 and wouldn't even blink at $2500. Apple has sold $6000 laptops in the past.
  • Already in the market

    Sony already has their ultra-mobile line running Vista that uses flash instead of a disk.

    Didn't this stop being that exciting of a topic last year?
    • Don't you know the Apple zealot rule?

      Nothing has been done until Apple does it. The MP3 player did not exist until the iPod. A cell phone with virtual buttons will not exist until the iPhone. The media extender did not exist until AppleTV. So no, the Sony doesn't count, sorry. :(
      • They may not do it first

        but Apple does it better. Otherwise you wouldn't be so jealous of them.
        • Untill someone else, as allways

          does it better then Apple. No brainer to take what's there and make it better.
          John Zern
      • Don't you know the Windows zealot rule?

        Or is that "drool"? :-)

        Who said anything about a possible Apple "NanoBook" being first or original? It's the Windows zealots who appear to be up in arms and in a tizzy.

        Many who have an interest in Apple (why are you here? rhetorical question, no need to answer) are simply curious or passing comment or opinion on a rumoured Apple product.

        In your hatred of Apple and zeal to kick dirt in Mac users faces (your hobby or obsession?), you've read a lot into these posts and made many asinine assumptions.

        Or are you just doing your typical trolling? Slow day?