The 12-inch PowerBook G4's 'Requiem for a Dream'
News of Re-Branded 13" MacBook at WWDC '09 Ends All Hope of 'mini' 12" Pro


by Joe Leo, Columnist


FEATURE: (06.09.09)-- Yesterday's surprising news at WWDC '09 of a revamped MacBook Pro line--just months after the initial release of the original, now old, revamped MacBook Pro line--brought forth an even more surprising announcement waiting in the wings.

No, not that the MacBook Air had sported wings (becoming even lighter in price) but that of the hatching of a brand new MacBook Pro. Sometimes... wishes, and dreams, don't come true. Or, did they?

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After three years of a "missing link" in the MacBook Pro line, which replaced the PowerBook G4 family of three, the third Pro model is finally here. For years, people wondered when Apple would release a replacement to the 12-inch G4. The 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4s were transformed into Intel-based machines. When would the 12-inch model follow suit?

While transformed into a comparable machine with the then new MacBook--touted by Apple as a merging (not exact words) of two lines, the 12-inch PowerBook and 12 & 14-inch iBook G4s--people, mainly fans of the 12-inch PowerBook G4 (such as this columnist) lamented over the fact that the MacBook just wasn't a true replacement.

With its 13-inch widescreen and larger footprint than the model it replaced, it just didn't seem right to call it a replacement. It was like, an apples to grapefruits (not oranges) comparison.

Or shall we say peaches? Since Mac users cling to their Apple products like, okay, never mind.

So what happened? Since the 12-inch PowerBook was the smallest full-featured computer Apple ever made--and some would say, still is to this day (never mind what happened yesterday)--people hung on to their beloved machines. Dreaming of the day Apple would eventually release a true, exact replacement for the little PowerBook that could.

If wishes could come true, a nod to Apple's marketing campaign for the first MacBook Pro models that came out ("Wishes do come true"), couldn't dreams come true as well?

In the 1978 novel, "Requiem for a Dream," author Hubert Selby, Jr. talks about--according to our unofficial official source, the Wikipedia entry for the book--four people seeking to fulfill their dreams. In their quest to do so, they lose control of reality because of each one's addiction.

We all know that Apple fans swear by their favorite company. Sometimes they're called "Mac addicts." Some really die-hard fanatics even refer to their counterparts as worshipping Apple and the Mac as a religion. (And their "god" is founder Steve Jobs... oh, please!).

And addictions can sometimes be, uh, one infinite loop (ha!) at times, especially with owners of Mac hardware. A perfect example of this is the 12-inch PowerBook G4.

Every subsequent year since the first MacBook Pro was released in 2006, be it at Macworld, WWDC, or even just one of those special media events that Apple holds in the middle of the year, rumors abounded that the Cupertino, CA-based company was working on a new MacBook nano, or a mini MacBook Pro.

Some say it already came out back in 2008 in the form of the MacBook Air. How so? Well, we know the MacBook Air was the lightest and thinnest notebook ever.

Curious, since one of the characters from "Requiem for a Dream," in her dream to be an actress, goes on a lengthy diet to lose weight, going crazy in the process. Fans of the 12-inch PowerBook G4 would probably compare Apple to this character because instead of answering their dream, Apple responded crazily by creating a whole new entire product. One that was similarly and almost literally, on a quest-to-be-thin diet!

Or are the crazy people here the ones who are demanding a like-for-like replacement machine? People who have, in essence, lost reality? As fellow columnist Charles W. Moore touches on in a recent piece on another site he writes for: "13' Aluminum MacBook vs. 12' PowerBook -- Is the Unibody a True Successor?"

(Note that he didn't use the word "crazy").

Moore points out, "If you're the sort of user who found the old 12-inch PowerBook an ideal compromise between size, weight, features, and price and have been waiting for Apple to replace the 12-inch PowerBook G4 with a corresponding [Intel-based] model, wait no longer -- it's here for all intents and purposes."

That was in reference to the October 2008 new unibody 13-inch MacBook that replaced the polycarbonate white plastic one. Though since then, we've learned that Apple chose to keep the white model, leave it as the MacBook, and re-branded its replacement as a MacBook Pro.

A 13-inch, "mini" MacBook Pro. A replacement for a replacement. Thanks to that decision, and announcement yesterday, Apple has put a nail in the coffin. A, requiem for a dream.

While we 12-inch PowerBook G4 fans would like to have continued the debate (and the wait) forever, showing an addiction to a cause--hmm... maybe the wrong novel was used as a comparison here, should've maybe used "Rebel Without a Cause"?--the debate seems to be just about over.

Sorry to say, especially coming from this columnist! (One who still owns a 12-inch PowerBook G4 which went from main notebook to backup Mac "netbook" of sorts to complement a new, now previous-generation, unibody 15-inch MacBook Pro).

Long live the 12-inch PowerBook G4. It was nice knowing you.



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Joe Leo begins his third year as a columnist for Power|'Book Central. His passion for writing, along with his extensive background in journalism and technology, are a perfect complement for this educator and professional freelance journalist based in San Francisco, CA.