Earlier this week, Apple unveiled its newest iteration of the MacBook and MacBook Pro. While many of their features were welcomed with open arms, LED backlighting and beefier graphics to name a few, one feature (or lack thereof), on the MacBook has caused a riot on the Internet. The 13.3" MacBook comes with the usual array of connectors, including USB, Ethernet, audio, and the new DisplayPort. However, a FireWire port, a connection type that Apple initially released back in 1995 and included on every computer since, is missing.
For many Mac owners and potential buyers, this is not a big deal. Every digital camera and nearly every external hard drive - along with a myriad of other peripherals and devices - uses USB 2.0. But when it comes to digital video, especially cameras that use Mini DV tapes, FireWire is the primary, if not the only, connection method.
Many angry consumers have taken to the Internet to voice their complaints, including the official Apple forums. Several days ago, the infamous "firstname.lastname@example.org" answered an email from someone voicing frustration regarding the lack of FireWire. The response is surprisingly simple. "Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2." While this may be true of the cameras you’ll find at your local Best Buy, many students are using something a grade above your typical Radio shack offering.
"Apple instead makes their trackpad fancier, the laptop "greener", and constructs it in an all new fantastic way !" says one MacRumors user. "Thanks for ditching the firewire port which is so critical to so many young filmmakers such as myself, for not making the laptop even slightly more affordable given current economic conditions, and making your middle of the line notebook CPU slower than that of my current computer purchased way back in late February."
The disparaging remarks continue, even on Apple’s own support forums. "I’ve been waiting months for a MacBook Pro for myself and a MacBook for my daughter," said one user. "She wants it for video and won’t buy a new camera. Apple just lost two very long time customers with these decisions." Because some support threads are being deleted outright, the only proof of such is the testimony of the users. While there’s a solid chance that many of these threads were deleted for other reasons (bad language, lack of an actual question), the overwhelming outcry over FireWire is indeed a driving force.
With a very small market share compared to PCs, Apple can rarely afford to lose customers, especially over something as small as a FireWire port. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see some sort of ExpressCard option made available, or even the addition of a FireWire port with the next processor refresh. If that happens, you can bet that we will hear from the early adopters of the new design.