Monday, January 14, 2008

MacWorld 2008 - Something in the Air...

Well here goes nothing... I figured I might as well contribute to all of the rumors and guessing that's going on about what Apple will announce tomorrow at MacWorld Expo.

Apple has displayed huge banner posters at Moscone with the phrase, "There's Something in the Air"... to which many have surmised that Apple will be releasing a WiMax solution on laptops and on iPods. Perhaps...

If Apple has chosen to deploy a new networking technology, I predict it will be a) cutting edge b) power- (as in electricity consumption and battery-life) conscious.

Here's a slight change of subject, please bear with me. I have been playing with XO "laptops" from the OLPC ("One Laptop Per Child") project. These are amazing pieces of hardware; they're designed as an educational tool for children in developing countries. They run Linux. They have a (revolutionary?) new user-interface with a new desktop paradigm called "Sugar". Oh... they're priced at about $200 in very large quantities.

So what could this all mean? ...
More importantly for this post, perhaps, they support 802.11b/g *and* 802.11s MESH NETWORKING. What does this mean? It means that if you have a collection of these laptops "near" one another... and one is connected to the Internet, (technically speaking) they could all be connected to the Internet. Or, it means that they can locally network with one another seamlessly. The more mesh "nodes" on the network, the more (potentially) reliable the network could be...

There's another interesting mesh project going on at Johns Hopkins University called smesh. They claim they can do VoIP over their mesh while roaming between meshpoints... seamlessly.

Now it occurs to me that when I was younger, Apple was almost the exclusive provider of computer technology in the K-12 arena. And it occurs to me that MESH NETWORKING (as implemented on the OLPC, at least) provides a collaborative means for learning, and sharing.

Further, it seems that Intel was part of the OLPC board of directors, and that, as of last week, they've taken themselves off of that board... and that there is a competing hardware platform (embodied in the $300 Classmate laptop) that is trying to sell into the classrooms of the developing world (and thereby compete with the OLPC).

It should be noted that, at present, the OLPC is not available for purchase in small quantities, or in developed (i.e. USA, Europe) nations.

We also know that Apple, as of a couple of years ago, transitioned their entire Mac line from the PowerPC processor architecture to Intel x86 processors. Intel has appeared prominently in past MacExpo keynotes; one would think the partnership is strong.

I have no "source" of data other than my brain, so I'll offer the following: Wouldn't it make sense for Apple to make a strong comeback in K-12 computer hardware with a product that is software-compatible with the OLPC, available for purchase by families and educational institutions in the US, supports and interacts with OLPC mesh networking?

They could create a laptop with processors from Intel, that implements 802.11s, runs MacOS, allows for MacOS accounts that were OLPC-desktop-restricted...

And, they could put mesh nodes in all of their portable devices, such as iPhones, iPods, and the like.

I hope I'm right... Leave a comment if you think this sounds reasonable...

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