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Just a Thought - Conversations with Steve: MacBook Pro?


- January 24th, 2006

A dark blue Mini Cooper zips into a parking space on Ellis Street near the where the street intersects Stockton; the driver smiles at his luck for finding such a nice sparking spot so close to his destination. He gets out and looks around; not far from where he's parked is one of Apple's premier retail stores, which are all a-bustle because of the yearly Macworld convention going on at the time,  and the announcements that were made at the keynote. But, the Driver does not walk in the direction the Apple Store, instead, he heads up the street towards a storefront overhung by a black awning that advertises steaks and seafood: the Les Joulins Jazz Bistro.

The tables in Les Joulins' main dining room were more than half seated with early evening diners chatting amiably as the sounds food consumption and jazz drown the street noise just past the entrance. The Mini Driver likes Les Joulins, its eclectic menu offers a real choice, and few things beat a good jazz jam session.

The Mini Driver often had also found that the people he met could easily immerse themselves into the dinner crowd, leaving their notoriety at the door and becoming just people out to enjoy a good meal and good music.

Still, If he really wanted privacy, he could ask that his party be seated in the balcony, if it weren't already being used. From there he and his guest could eat and have a commanding view of the stage while limiting  the view others might have of them, and they might actually enjoy a meal without the constant barrage of photo seekers, or autograph hounds.

"Privacy," the Driver murmured to himself, "that's the ticket."  The day had been a hectic one, and he knew his guest would likely feel the need to deflate, to kick back and relax before heading back to Cupertino

The restaurant's host suddenly appeared, as if by magic, and, upon recognizing the Driver, approached and said in a low, almost conspiratorial manner, "Your guest has already arrived. Right this way please."

The Driver was about to reply, but the host had already turned and was winding his way through the tables towards the balcony stairs. The Driver had little choice but to follow. A few diners recognized him as he passed them; some whispered and nodded in his direction (he nodded back), some stopped eating, forks half-raised towards mouths froze open and eye wide with disbelief (he merely smiled at those poor souls).

The host had stopped at the foot of some stairs and indicated the Driver should continue up. The Driver looked up the stairwell; it was dimly lit and empty. Again, the Driver started to ask the host about his guest,  but the man was already halfway across the dining room floor, heading for his post at the restaurant's entrance.

"Ooooo-kay," The Mini Driver  said, "weird guy."

"You gonna lurk at the bottom of the stairs or come and join me'," asked a voice from beyond the top of the stairs.

The Driver recognized the voice at once and climbed the steps without further hesitation.

"I'm not complaining, mind you," the voice continued, "cuz I like to get out and away as much as the next guy, but why can't you call and make an appointment to see me like a normal person? Why all of this skullduggery? "

The Driver approached a man seated near the end of one of the two long tables that occupied the balcony and shrugged, saying," Why be normal? Besides, I kinda figured you'd get a kick out of this place. Was I right?"

The Mini Driver took a seat opposite Steve Jobs, who smiled and asked. "Did you pay that guy to act weird?" indicating the host.

"Nah, that's just the way he is. He kinda creeps me out."

"I can believe it," Steve said, nodding.

The driver noted that there was a place setting already on the table, and his guest was drinking a chilled bottle of water. The Driver picked up his own bottle, twisted the cap off, and took a deep pull. The cold water bit pleasantly as it washed the dryness from his throat.

The Driver noticed that Steve looked a bit puzzled, "Something wrong?"

"There are no menus. What are we having," Steve asked?

"I don't know what you're having, but I'm getting a steak sauteed with portabella mushrooms and red wine, asparagus tips, and peppered potatoes. Then, if there's room, I might go for some dessert. Just tell the waiter what you want. Don't worry, it's on me."

"Sounds interesting, though you really should drop kick that steak. At least get some fish instead."

"You eat the fish if you want. I want... no, make that I need a steak right now. And dinner rolls with lots of butter."

"Fine," Steve said. "I'll read a nice eulogy at your impending funeral service; something that includes how much you needed steak in your life."

"Ha-ha. I'll probably out live you," the Driver said.

"Yeah, sure you will. The next sound you hear, besides that band, which is really good, by the way, will be your arteries hardening" Steve said, closing the subject. "Listen, did you catch my keynote?"

"Yep! Would not have missed it for the world." With a wry smile the Driver adds, "You know, you are getting to be quite good at keynotes. Ever think about doing it for a living?"

"Yeah, I thought about it. Keynoting is only fun if you like what you are talking about, and the only way I can be sure I'll like what I'm talking about is if I build it myself."

The man's left eyebrow rises, questioningly.

Steve quickly adds, "Or have the company I run build it for me."

"I kinda figured that it's been a while since you were last in a garage with a soldering iron in your hand."

Steve sits back and smiles wistfully. "It has been a while, hasn't it?"

"How long ago was it when you and Woz came up with the Apple I?"

"About 30 years."

"Get outta town! 30?"

" Yep."

"Man! That's hard to believe. You started out with a few circuit boards cobbled together, and now look at what you've got; hardware and software that's the envy of the industry, which you helped create, by the way."

"Yeah, I know."

"iPods are selling faster than Necco can sell Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Mac mini has proven itself to be a good idea, and now, you've got Macs with Intel dual core processors. Man! You are really cookin'."

"I've been lucky," Steve says modestly, then, puzzled, he says, "I'm afraid to ask but, just what is a squirrel nut zipper?"

"You are kidding me, right? You've never had a Squirrel Nut Zipper?"

"Right now, I'm not even sure if it's legal."

The Driver laughs. "It's candy, my friend. The best bit of peanut and caramel sweetness Man has ever devised, and it used to cost just one thin penny."

Steve does not appear to be impressed. "Oh."

"What'd you think? I was getting kinky with tree dwelling rodents?"

"Hey, what you do at home is your business." Steve makes a show of looking around. "Where's that waiter?"

"Oh, he'll be along shortly. Listen I've a question that's been bugging since the Keynote."

"Yeah? What's that?"

"Why, in the name of all things digital, would you name it the MacBook Pro?"

Steve's face reddens a bit. "What's wrong with MacBook Pro? It's a Mac notebook and I'm aiming it at the professionals; MacBook Pro. It works."

The man frowns impishly. "Yeah, works like a cold sore. At least the name 'PowerBook' gave the inference of vigor."

"But there's no 'Mac' in the name," Steve counters. "I want to make sure that people know that this is an Apple Mac notebook though there's an Intel processor running inside it."

The Driver shifts in his seat. "Well, maybe you could have called it the UmphBook, or maybe the WorkBook. Heck, even GoMac Pro sounds better than MacBook Pro."

"The GoMac name is already being used, unfortunately," Steve replies with a note of exasperation. "Besides, MacBook Pro is a good name. People will buy it because it kicks major butt."

The Driver nods, "Granted. Those dual core Intels will make it fly, but Steve, MacBook Pro?"

Steve ignores him. "And the new iMacs are sure to be hot sellers."

"Absolutely. I want one myself. But... MacBook Pro?"

"And the iPods will continue to do well until the next iteration, where I hope it will do even better."

"Yeah, I'm sure it will, but Dude, MacBook Pro?"

"You really need to focus here, Buddy Boy," Steve says, obviously irritated, "I'm trying to tell you something important."

"Sorry," the Mini Driver says sheepishly.

The waiter announced himself and took orders, then vanished almost as quickly as the host had.

"They must be brothers," Steve mused softly, referring to the waiter and host, and their penchant for disappearing.

"What was that," the man asked?

"Nothing," Steve replied. "So, are you still driving that Mini?"

"I drive a Mini," the man answers, "But not the same one. I've got a rag top now."

A boyish twinkle gleams in Steve's eyes. "Cool! You have got to let me take it for a spin."

"Absolutely. Any time. In fact, you can take it tonight if you have the time. It's outside on Ellis St." The Mini Driver slid his keys across the table and Steve grabbed them.

"You need a cab or something? Where are you staying," Steve asks.

"Oh, I've got a friend who lives nearby; she's got a really comfortable couch. I plan on crashing there once I'm done here. Just hit me on my cell when you're done and let me know where to get the keys."

The Mini driver notices Steve is playing with the Mini keys. "Something wrong/"

"Are you sure this is kosher," Steve asks? "I don't want to leave you stranded or anything."

"Donna will be along as soon as she gets off work, so it is all good."

"OK, but you call me if you need your car back,  or anything else, you hear?"

"Yeah, sure. No problem."

"Now that you are feeling like you owe me something; I do have one question before dinner arrives."

Steve pushes back from the table, leans back in his chair and folds his arms across his chest, and said, "OK, out with it."

The Mini Driver feels a bit self-conscious, but presses on anyway.  "So, Steve, you've named your new laptop the MacBook Pro, am I to assume that there will be a non-pro MacBook?"

Steve remains typically silent, seeming to ignore the question. Anyone else would wonder if Steve is dissing him, but the Mini Driver understands that Steve is weighing his options on how to answer the question, or whether to answer at all.

The waiter materializes again, this time bearing their orders. As he makes his way towards the table, Steve sits up and spreads his napkin across his lap.

The waiter places plates of steaming food in front of the men. Steve looks his over, making a show of it. Before the Mini Driver can complain about his answer, Steve rubs his hands to together and says, "Boy! This looks great! Let's eat!"

"Well," Steve says at last, apparently opting to answer, "you know what they say about making an assumption..."

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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