High Stakes for Apple on October 14

Now that we know Apple plans to turn its spotlight on notebooks on October 14, itis time to consider just how much is at stake for Apple with its new notebook line.

First, the nation is in a sour mood. The economic and financial crises have pummeled the stock market and Apple along with it. No matter what Apple does, the health of the entire financial system in the U.S. can dictate confidence in Apple stock.

Some have suggested that Apple take a leadership role by having Steve Jobs, perhaps in concert with others, make some kind of affirmative announcement. I just donit think thatis Apple style.

But what is in Appleis style is to present an image of an exciting future with new designs. Itis possibly a selfish thing for users, but the feeling of something new and exciting can take some of the edge off the current worries. Weid like to reaffirm that America is still ticking along, and that Apple is still making great products, That can go a long way towards renewed spirits. Itis like the movement to electric and plug-in hybrid cars -- hope for the future.

Along those lines, and considering that weire in that infamous gigahertz plateau, whereby we make up for clock speed by adding cores, the new notebooks will become a referendum on whether Apple is coasting or still bursting at the seams with energy and ideas.

The Apple notebook design hasnit changed a lot in years, and changes have been incremental. This is probably a good time for Apple to both make a leap and solve of the annoying problems weive had with notebooks. Hereis a list of items to consider. Note that Iim not suggesting that these will be features of the new notebooks, rather just a list of things that could lead to some inspiration and glee.

  • An SSD drive option, across the line, for a really good price
  • Wireless USB
  • Blu-ray drive option (read/write)
  • HDMI out -- to serve as a living room HDTV video center
  • An expanded feature set of gestures for the trackpad
  • A much improved battery life

Ten years ago, Apple was still working on Mac OS X and had to settle for Mac OS 9 on the original iMac. Apple skirted the issue of an obsolete OS by focusing on the industrial design of the Bondi blue iMac and the ease with which it could get on the Internet. I doubt if weill see clock speeds in the new MacBook Pros much above 3 GHz, and I also doubt that a slew of minor enhancements will cause much of a stir. As a result, Apple will have to create a buzz along the lines of USB and elimination of the 1.44 MB floppy on the original iMac.

If Apple is going to renew investor confidence and show the world what it can do, the new MacBooks will have to be truly drool worthy. Thatis sure to lead Apple into a huge holiday season and affirm what everyone has been saying all along -- Apple stock (AAPL) is undervalued and the company can once again innovate its way out of tough economic times.

In this case, contrary to classic sales doctrine, hope is a strategy.