The announcement Apple made Tuesday was impressive. Steve Jobs and his cronies showed off some of the best notebooks I've seen in quite some time and even after coming down from the initial high of new tech goodness that I get with any product announcement, the impressiveness lingered.
But the real story here isn't that the notebooks sport nicer designs or better components. The real story is that Apple has drawn the line in the sand and told the world that it has tied its future to multitouch technology.
First, multitouch technology in one form or another cropped up on the iPhone, then it moved to the iPod touch, and now it has solidified itself in the entire Mac notebook line. The only products missing are the Apple TV, iMacs, and Cinema Displays, and chances are, the iMacs may be equipped with similar functionality at some time in the future, too.
Of course, Jobs hinted that such a move would become a reality last year. Speaking to The New York Times last year, he hinted that his company was on to something and more Apple products would feature multitouch technology in the future.
"People don't understand that we've invented a new class of interface," he told the Times.
Maybe Apple has invented a "new class of interface." But then again, maybe Apple is making a mistake by tying its future to a technology that has yet to really show its value.
Sure, the iPhone enjoys unbridled success, but multitouch technology as we know it in MacBooks has yet to really takeoff. Jobs evidently believes that a glass trackpad that can feature multiple buttons and up to four-finger gestures is the future. Apple zealots will agree and champion its use across every notebook in the market. But will mainstream consumers react so joyfully once they get their hands on Apple's latest machines?
At this point, that's still a major question mark.
Regardless of whether it wants to admit it, Apple is taking a gamble by tying its future to multitouch technology. There's always the possibility of "new" technologies backfiring and multitouch is no exception.
In the end, the future is a mystery for Apple and the rest of us that discuss and love technology. Will multitouch take the world by storm and usher Apple to the front of the pack? Who knows.
But if I had to put money down on one outcome or the other, I'd say that Apple's decision to let multitouch technology lead it into the future is a smart one. It will set the company apart in the notebook market and put its competitors on notice: Apple is willing to take chances to beat them.
And judging by the design and capability of these notebooks, I don't think Apple will have too much trouble beating its competitors over the next few years.