When it comes to Apple products, how thin is too thin? by Jason Snell for Macworld:

”This has got to stop at some point—assuming that Apple’s not going to create a monomolecular laptop that you can throw like Oddjob’s hat. The question is, when?”

It’s an important question. As Snell points out in reference to another piece of his (Battery life: Apple’s solving for x) at Six Colors, Apple clearly has their own goals for device battery life, but those goals take a backseat to design. Yet the iPad gets significantly more use from a charge; so much so that it’s longevitiy has some people to forgoing traditional laptops in favor of iPads with bolted-on keyboards.

Some might argue the difference in battery life is part of the product marketing strategies for the iPad and the Mac, but that would lead one to conclude that the limited battery life in the new MacBook is intentional, which is absurd. What is more likely is that Apple is running up against two constraints of engineering:

  • The MacBook is a more complex physical object and therefore has less available space for battery.
  • The MacBook uses a hardware and software stack which are more aggressive on energy consumption.

The first constraint is both likely and non-negotiable, so long as there is a market for a portable computer with a physical keyboard. That second constraint however is both likely and quite interesting. It makes it hard to deny the possibility that OS X and some A Series silicon are somewhere in Cupertino together, learning how to dance.