The MacBook Brick is a block of high-quality, aircraft grade aluminum. It is the beginning.
The beginning of what?
It is the beginning of the new Apple manufacturing process to make MacBooks. It is totally revolutionary, a game changer. One of the biggest Apple innovations in a decade.
The MacBook manufacturing process up to this point has been outsourced to Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers like Foxconn. Now Apple is in charge. The company has spent the last few years building an entirely new manufacturing process that uses lasers and jets of water to carve the MacBooks out of a brick of aluminum.
(Yes, this sounded a bit crazy to us as well. But our source is adamant so bear with us. He says Apple has built a manufacturing process that would make Henry Ford proud.)
This isn’t entirely new. Steve Jobs has always had a fondness for having his own plant to produce computers. In 1990, he built a totally automated plant in Fremont California (thanks PED) that could build NeXT machines with only 100 workers. It was a "plant with just about everything: lasers, robots, speed, and remarkably few defects." Unfortunately, the demand wasn’t very high at the time. However, Jobs remarked, "I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer."
One thing about Steve Jobs is that he seems to always return to his failures and then turn them into successes. That is where our information ends and speculation begins.
What advantages are there to manufacturing with 3D laser and water jet cutting?
- Carving out of aluminum eliminates the need to bend the metal and create weak spots or microfolds and rifts.
- There are no seams in the final product, so it is smooth.
- Screws aren’t needed to tie the products together.
- The shell is one piece of metal so it is super light, super strong and super cheap.
- You can be a whole lot more creative with the design if you don’t have to machine it.
As Peter Oppenheimer said at the recent earnings call, this innovation is something "Apple’s competitors won’t be able to match" for some time to come. We expect the process to drive down the prices of MacBooks over the next few years and at the same time allow Apple to continue to lead in the innovation department. Design changes should come much more rapidly with rapid prototyping.
The newly designed MacBooks are still on target for an October 14th announcement and the press should be getting invites within the next few days. There are still so many questions to be answered. I am sure Steve Jobs will enjoy answering them.
Where does PA Semi fit into this? What about former Segway CTO, Doug Field who was hired as Apple VP of product design a few months ago?
We realize that a lot of people will be skeptical but bear with us for a few weeks. Remember when we said there were going to be aluminum iMacs? Fat nanos? iPod Touch? Slim, MacBook Air? Basically, every major product that Apple has released over the past 15 months. We are putting a lot on the line here for this mother of all rumors…wish us luck :D
(oh, and sorry for the riddling…it was at the behest of our source)
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