Home > Adobe, Business, Computers, Gear, rant, Sony > Apple says: Firewire be gone!

Apple says: Firewire be gone!

picture-4.pngAs I watched Apple revise the MacBook line with graphics performance that trounces the integrated Intel graphics, I began to think that the MacBook could well be the mythical mid-range desktop machine we’ve been waiting for- dual core, powerful graphics chipset capable of Dual-link DVI output, all the ports on the “back” & optical drive on the front… Plus the nifty ability to pick it up and take it with you!

No longer hamstrung by the Intel integrated graphics chipsets, this powerful new Mac could be had for just $1299… but there’s one BIG problem…

Apple ripped out the FireWire port from the MacBook!

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Just two years after calling 2006 “The Year of HD” Apple not only refuses to include a Blu-ray burner, with the following lame excuse (from Macworld):

“BluRay is a bag of hurt,” Jobs says. “The licensing of the technology is so complex that we’re just waiting until things settle down and waiting until BluRay really takes off in the marketplace before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the drives.”

But more importantly, they completely ditch FireWire altogether.
FireWire is an Apple invention from over a decade ago.
Is Apple giving up on its own technology?
Apparently so.

How are we going to capture DV and HDV video if there’s no FireWire port on the laptop.
Moreover, there’s no ExpressCard slot on the MacBook to allow end users to add such a sorely needed feature.

Add to this the complete inability of Macintosh computers to accept and read the 3″ optical disks used on many SD and HD camcorders. No matter if it is CD, DVD or Blu-ray.
You can shoot the video but you just can’t get it into any Mac (except the $3000 one.)
Or how about the complete dearth of flash media slots that are so common on laptops from other manufacturers. Camcorders that have SDHC media are taking over the consumer and prosumer marketplace. Can a Mac natively accept a SDHC card at all? No.

They don’t want to “burden their customers”?!?
They are making it very burdensome to get video, HD or SD, into their latest computers.

The MacBook Pro does keep FireWire, but ditches the much more ubiquitous FW-400 port in favor of the much less available FW-800 port. Yes, it’s faster for hard drives. Yes, it’s “backwards compatible.” But you’ll need a converter dongle, or a completely new cable, to make all your existing FW-400 6-pin cables able to use the FW-800 jack.

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With the Apple “design” overwhelming actual usability, Macs aren’t for professional creators any more. Apple’s products are only for people who buy music and video from the iTunes store, and are nothing but couch potatoes. No creating. Just consuming.

More bux in it for Apple that way: (image: Engadget)

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Can’t fault them for following the dollars.
Just don’t count on Apple (you know, the company that didn’t bother to go to NAB this year because it really had nothing new to show) to keep up with its “professional” software now that it has smelled consumer dollars.

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  1. October 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm | #1

    Right on target, well said.

    No blu-ray, ditch FW400 entirely, MacBook is a powerful yet lacking I/O all over the place (in order to force semi-pro hobbyists and pros alike to the MacBook Pros).. but what of Billy wanting to edit video with his parent’s new HV30? The FireWire removal thing.. It’s not.. right. I’ll be okay, but I can’t recommend the computer to newbie video makers anymore. Will the iMac be loosing it next? That wouldn’t make sense.. but removing it from the MacBook doesn’t make sense either!

    FireWire is extremely established for DV and HDV video users, the iMovie variety. If they wanted to limit users from using FireWire properly like a pro, by god, just make the FW400 jack a 4-pin rather than removing it entirely!

  2. airbreather
    October 14, 2008 at 8:07 pm | #2

    That graph is truly funny. Look at Q4 1996. That was the huge peak. TWELVE years ago. Then Apple switched over to x86 processors and they’ve been trying to get back ever since. Those are not inflation-adjusted dollars, either. And basically all the profit for the last several years is iPod sales. The graph is supposed to make us think that Apple is really taking over. In fact, it’s still trying to catch up to a position it held 12 years ago.

    Jobs’ illness is a metaphor for whole company.

  3. Old Guy With A Beard
    October 14, 2008 at 8:20 pm | #3

    New Apple MacBook Lacks Firewire — Cuts Off Millions Of Potential Buyers

    Apple’s new MacBooks are of no use to the millions – or tens of millions – of potential buyers who own DV video cameras that use FireWire to transfer video from the camera to the computer for editing. The MacBooks are equipped with USB2, but no firewire.

    I just got off the phone with the people at 1-800-MY APPLE who confirmed that there is no way they are aware of to use any firewire-based video camera with the new MacBooks.

    Apple advised that buyers would have to use a video camera that uses USB to transfer video to the computer – and that excludes about 99% of all video cameras out there.

    I was advised to check the Apple online store for such video cameras, but found only Canon firewire-based models for sale!

    Even the new Sony, Canon etc High Definition video cameras use Firewire only to transfer video to the computer.

    Unless there is something I’m missing, it means that my daughter will not be purchasing a new MacBook, nor will anyone she knows because they are all into making videos.

    What do I do for a living? Marketing – and I’m filming and editing videos almost every day. All ten video cameras at my work are firewire based – right from my old reliable Sony PD150 to our new little Canon HV30 HiDef cameras (We bought three)

    How big a deal is this?

    Once again, unless I’m missing something, there is no way that anyone who owns a firewire video camera will purchase a MacBook.

    How could Apple have made a mistake like this? Tell me I’m missing something here, please!

  4. Nicolas Goles
    October 14, 2008 at 10:52 pm | #4

    It’s a shame they didin’t add firewire… it was my dream laptop until I realised that. It’s a sad day for me ( and many others )

  5. dave
    October 15, 2008 at 7:20 am | #5

    this has to be the weirdest ( and possibly most self destructive ) move apple has ever made, the education market is wide open for expansion using mac books , but one of the big reasons we would buy them is for use with video editing, now we can’t do this unless we buy the older version mac book and how long will that machine be around ? . schools buy the cheapest cameras as a rule and dv models with firewire are the cheapest and most flexible for our environment, no way we are going to change over to flash or hard drive units just to please apple, I can see us moving to pc’s if firewire is taken out of the equation. I can add a firewire card to most pcs. I can’t to macs unless I buy the pro model and how many schools can afford that ? .
    a VERY stupid move

  6. Scott
    October 15, 2008 at 8:18 am | #6

    Would something like this work?

    http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/rr-527950.html

    There’s also a PAL version.

  7. Scott
    October 15, 2008 at 8:19 am | #7

    OK, I see it’s not Mac compatible, of course. I imagine there will be a huge demand for a solution though, shouldn’t be long.

  8. Scott
    October 15, 2008 at 8:25 am | #8

    OK, I checked ebay for usb to firewire (and vice versa) and found a lot of cables which claim to be mac compatible and cost around $5 with shipping.

  9. DumbApple
    October 15, 2008 at 8:43 am | #9

    No firewire on new Macbooks? EPIC FAIL APPLE! You definitely lost a sale from me. Watch as the cramming of OSX onto NON-APPLE hardware increases exponentially now! (Thank you hackers)

  10. Peter
    October 15, 2008 at 9:23 am | #10

    I see the USB > FW cables on eBay. $5 doesn’t seem much of an obstacle. Do you think it will work effectively? I’ve been holding out for a small version of MBP as an owner of 12″ G4 PB. Very disappointed in Apple’s last two offerings (MacBook Air as well). Now my PB has broke hard drive and is over 4 yrs old, time to be replaced. Limping along with external drive. If the USB > FW option is effective, I’ll buy the $1599 MB and hopefully in another couple years Apple will be in sync with me (and millions of other 12″ PB owners).

  11. October 15, 2008 at 10:02 am | #11

    There are a lot of similar listings. Hopefully the sellers will not raise the prices once they realize the demand for these.

    http://www.firewiretousb.com

  12. Em
    October 15, 2008 at 10:07 am | #12

    At least I’m glad to see it’s not just me! It is beyond words how they could remove basic FW. I’ve been a mac user since 1985, and this is definitely one of the strangest moves I’ve seen by Apple. At this point, will definitely wait until next year to upgrade my current Macbook, but unless something drastically changes in standards, will not upgrade then either without a FW port.

  13. Trey Yancy
    October 15, 2008 at 11:01 am | #13

    When is Steve Jobs going to actually start using a Mac in real life?

    Remember the laptops where the Apple logo was right side up when the lid was closed and the machine was in the user’s lap, yet was upside down to everyone else?

    The glossy-screens-only decision demonstrates the same satyric self-indugence, intended for providing a excellent viewing experience only for a single user who happens to be sitting in a perfect viewing environment.

    Imagine being one of the million or so users who regularly make impromptu presentations to groups of people who must bob and weave in order to find a viewing angle that actually works. It is like a “Can you see me now?” version of a Verizon commercial. This is embarrassing and makes the Mac look like a piece of me-too junk.

    As for the lack of Firewire on the MacBooks, this is another example of narcissism, trading the function of Firewire for the outward illusion of owning an elite MB Pro (to most users the difference in rigidity is not a big deal).

    I guess that someone doesn’t know that the vast majority of musicians are on very tight budgets yet at least half of them use Firewire to connect their audio / MIDI interfaces.

    And forget about the millions of consumers who need to import video for iMovie projects from all those iLink / EEE1394 video cameras out there. We can also say goodbye to target disk mode.

    The bottom line of the Firewire issue:

    This raises the cost of an entry-level Firewire machine by a whopping ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Am I missing something, or is this just insane?

    Apple’s mix of 95% pure genius / 5% absolute idiocy may be okay in the business world, but thank goodness that Apple doesn’t run NASA….or maybe it does.

  14. October 15, 2008 at 11:40 am | #14

    @airbreather: You are not reading that graph correctly. It is a representation of Sales Growth, not market share or anything else. If you watch the video, you will also learn that it only represents Mac computer sales: No iPods, iPhones, etc are included in the figures.

    So yes, it took them until Q2 of this year to get their SALES GROWTH back to the Q4 1996 level, and it has recently started to drop again. But the huge drop-off in ’96 was due to the Intel transition, and people were taking a “wait and see” attitude regarding upgrading their current Macs.

    But the real story, and the only reason they showed this graph, was to demonstrate how stagnate the rest of the industry’s growth has been compared to Apple.

  15. Em
    October 15, 2008 at 2:58 pm | #15

    For me, this is not only about the money. I do NOT want anything larger than a Macbook. The pro is too big for my travel needs, but FW is essential. I actually use my current Macbook as my desktop as well (with an Apple cinema display). It works great, other than it could use more processor power… maybe next year….

  16. J.J.A
    October 15, 2008 at 4:13 pm | #16

    My agency wont be going mac anymore. Seriously. We OLY use firewire Our Video investments are solely DVoted to firewire. 8 HV30s, 2 A1′s, 5 XM2′s and 2 PD170′s. We needed to upgrade half our laptops (10) from the G4′s. Its HP and Dell for us and will be now running Premiere- we already have PC pacakges of CS3.

    Mac, not only have you lost 30 Mac users, You have also lost 30 FCP users.

  17. Kevin Purcell
    October 15, 2008 at 6:43 pm | #17

    #2 and #14

    The sales graph shown starts in Q1 05 (not 1995).

    Three years not a twelve.

    No #14 we haven’t been using Intel since 1996 … good grief, we were barely using PPC in 1996.

  18. October 16, 2008 at 11:54 am | #18

    @Kevin: DUH! I feel really stupid about misreading the timeline, and yes, I should have realized how crazy those milestones would have been. I simply did not think about the dates, only the events and the purpose of the chart in the first place. Thanks for setting me straight.

  19. Estevao Laurito
    October 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm | #19

    Man, I have a 2 year old MacBook Coreduo, and it’s a very capable machine for pro audio on the go. I don’t make very complex projects with it, but with decent ram it’s just very much up to the job. Of course I was dying to get my hands on one of this new babies, but there is simply no decent USB audio interface. All the good stuff is Firewire. And I junst don’t want to throw away my interfaces. This, for me, was a huge mistake.

  20. October 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm | #20

    Steve Jobs’ lie has broken through his own distortion field! In the latest email response from Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO responds to one customer’s complaint that the new MacBook won’t support HD camcorders:

    “Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2.

    - Steve”

    For what it’s worth, here is a Petition – it’s the best we can do(other than not buying a product that now doesn’t suit us).

    http://www.PetitionOnline.com/MB1394/petition.html

    As of this writing, it already has 2100+ signatures!

  21. Jack Thompson
    October 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm | #21

    BluRay is simply not ready for prime time. Power consumption is ridiculous – at least on my Girlfriend’s Dell. We tried to watch a BluRay movie on a flight from Chicago to New York with a full battery – forget it. We got about an hour into the flight. Bad scene.

    I don’t know about FireWire – all my stuff is USB (drives, cameras), because that’s what the local stores seem to sell. But if I had a firewire item, I’d be in trouble.

  22. Joel Peregrine
    November 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm | #22

    Coming soon : IEEE 1394c. FireWire over Ethernet.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=2414

    Personally I think the fact that the Intel Macbook ran pro apps that didn’t need a lot of graphics support relatively well compared to more expensive ‘pro’ options was something they had to remedy to differentiate the product lines. Now that they’ve added a higher level of graphics support to the MacBook removing the FireWire port was the only way to disable its use as a pro machine.

  23. Andrew Banks
    November 16, 2008 at 11:33 am | #23

    Steve Jobs probably left off firewire for aesthetic, not commercial, reasons.

    Steve is a minimalist. So is his cohort Jonathan Ive. They revel in simplicity, austerity. They hate clutter.

    Remember how the first Mac keyboards lacked arrow keys, a numeric keyboard, and other keys? It’s because Steve Jobs hates buttons.

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118532502435077009-6K0oFbRv__C86Jmz0qlgZhncc88_20080724.html?mod=rss_free

    In 2000, my new G4 lacked a floppy drive. At the time, floppies were still a common way to move files, and it many times frustrated me. But Steve Jobs saw that the floppy was on its way out, and he got rid of it as soon as he could. Because one less hole in your computer looks nicer.

    For the same reason, only the latest iPod line has volume buttons.

    I think Steve Jobs’s ideal computer is something like the MacBook Air — except without any jacks at all.

  24. November 20, 2010 at 1:06 pm | #24

    all most all CONSUMER cameras have USB 2.0 port, and many consumer cameras DON’T have FW. even a lot of new pro cameras have USB2. thats how you get video in / out of these econoline laptops.

    if you must have FW800, PCIe, you get a PRO level laptop.

    the FW800->FW400 adapter will cost you under $10, or you can get cables that way for about the same price. whats the big deal ?

    the consumer macbook is for a different market. if you are a video pro, then getting a pro level laptop is to be expected. you guys are whinning about nothing

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