October 17, 2008, 2:09 PM — Now that we're done complaining that the new MacBooks aren't cheap enough (we are done, right?), what else do we have to complain about? Why, the fact that the new low-end MacBooks have had FireWire taken away, naturally! Users have, in Computerworld's words, been raging over the decision in the official Apple discussion forums, with a lot of anger coming from musicians and videographers with specialized equipment that connects via FireWire -- you know, the kind of high-end customers that Apple's been trying to attract. Someone even wrote to Steve Jobs to complain, earning one of those concise and somewhat snippy replies he occasionally graces end users with -- in this case, saying that most video cameras you'd buy in the past two years have had USB 2.
Many people -- even those upset about the decision -- have compared it to Apple's 1998 decision to leave floppy disks out of the iMac. That move a decade ago turned out to be rather prescient, but I don't think the comparison is quite right. For one thing, a floppy-less computer of any sort in 1998 was almost entirely unheard of, making the move a truly visionary one; today, on the other hand, Macs are the exception rather than the rule in that up until recently they've had FireWire across the line. The truth is that FireWire was something that Apple itself was the biggest promoter of within the industry; if this is the beginning of the end of the Mac's relationship with it, it would represent Apple's acknowledgement that this long-term strategy had failed and that USB 2 had become the standard, not a move to lead the way on a major trend the way that ditching the floppy did.
Since I'm not a media-head, the biggest loss for me in this is FireWire disk mode, and what Migration Assistant can do with it. Though Ars Technica seems to think that Migration Assistant is an IT staffer thing, I've used for my last two migrations, and it's made getting a new Mac much easier for me. Yes, there's migration via the network, I suppose, but it doesn't have the same elegant simplicity of just plugging in and slurping over all your old data, settings, and apps.