MacBook Air has no WiMax; is Apple on to something?

Few people care about high-speed wireless WiMax, analyst says

WiMax-capable prototypes from several vendors were a big part of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, but the faster wireless networking did not figure into the stylishly thin MacBook Air laptop announced at Macworld Tuesday.

Is it possible that Apple and Steve Jobs are cooking up something for WiMax in coming months? Or, as some say, could it be that the WiMax market isn't there yet, and Apple understands that with its keen marketing prescience?

Apple representatives did not respond to calls or e-mails for comment on the company's WiMax plans. However, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney was blunt about what he thinks is going on.

"Few [people] care about a WiMax rollout right now," Dulaney said. "It's Gartner's belief that WiMax will struggle for now. The demand for integrated high-speed data in laptops has not been as robust as early projection in the press would have predicted."

Still, the MacBook Air could quickly be made WiMax-capable with a Universal Serial Bus dongle, other analysts noted.

Dulaney pointed to a broad lack of interest in WiMax among both consumers and business users. "The rationale for another data network and more monthly charges just aren't in the corporate mind-set," he said. As for consumers, Dulaney said, "do any of your neighbors care? Mine don't."

Dulaney's attitude is decidedly at odds with well-developed plans for WiMax within Sprint Nextel, Intel, Motorola, Nokia and others.

Last week at the CES trade show, Sprint's Xohm unit for the development of WiMax proclaimed that it was on target with its ambitious US$5 billion nationwide network rollout, set to launch in 20 markets starting in April. Intel officials talked about an Echo Peak dual module for WiMax and Wi-Fi that will be available for laptops by midyear. On the show floor, Intel displayed several mobile Internet devices that could be equipped with WiMax chips.

Nokia and Samsung Telecommunications America described plans for handheld devices and modules, such as USB-dongles and laptop cards that would bring WiMax speeds to mobile devices.

OQO said it would embed WiMax into its ultramobile PC later this year, while Asustek Computer showed off UMPC capabilities and other devices. Zyxel also showed a WiMax modem.

Sprint officials said that laptops and ultramobile PCs from Acer, Lenovo Group, Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co.'s Panasonic Corporation of North America and Toshiba will have embedded WiMax chips by midyear.

Clearwire, which has nearly 350,000 pre-WiMax subscribers for wireless Internet access, joined Intel and Motorola in demonstrating WiMax capabilities in a Chevrolet Suburban driven around the street of Las Vegas last week. Just yesterday, Chrysler announced that it is developing an advanced wireless communications system that will eventually provide WiMax connectivity.

There's "Motown momentum for WiMax," said John Polivka, a spokesman for Xohm. "I'd say interest is building for WiMax."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Scan at 1 Photo per second!

Quickly organise your entire photographic history. Automatically color correct and restore poor condition and even faded photos. And, most importantly easily share your memories with friends and family using your favourite social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, and more.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?