Until recently I was editor-in-chief of Creative Bloq's sister magazine, MacFormat, and I've seen and even commissioned plenty of renderings of 'future Macs' in my 12 years in the business; this one, though, is the first one I've seen that I want.
And what's worse, unlike with some conceptual Apple product designs – which, let's face it, often suffer from a lack of imagination, merely taking an existing design and making it slimmer and with narrower bezels – there's zero chance this will ever be a reality. Apple just isn't sentimental enough today.
It's a design created by German tech site CURVED/labs, and of course it's inspired by the original Macintosh from 1984, the one that introduced to the mass market the system of windows, icons, menus and pointers that we're still using thirty years later.
And what's particularly tantalising about it, unlike some of the results of an over-enthusiastic fanboy getting his hands on a pirated copy of Maya, is that I can't see any show-stopping technical reasons why it's not possible to build one tomorrow; it takes the guts from an 11-inch MacBook Air and just puts them in a differently shaped case. In CURVED/labs' mind, the screen is touch-enabled too, but that's the only bit that rings false – the only bit that sounds like its creators said 'why not?' to, rather than 'why?'.
Because there's even a reason beyond cuteness – and an homage to Jobs' original idea of making a Mac friendly by giving it a kind of face – to put the slot under the screen. That's where you insert SD cards, and where the mic and speakers are. It's also where CURVED/labs has put the webcam, but let's just quietly pretend they put it above the screen unless they deliberately wanted to stare at correspondents' chests rather than their faces.
I love how even the chunky chamfered edges of the original Macintosh have been echoed in how the screen is slightly recessed, even though of course there's no manufacturing reason why it has to be, and how surprisingly naturally the wildly different design vocabularies of today and many yesterdays ago hang together.
It's stunning: a tribute to Apple's heritage and yet perfectly usable even today. To be sure, you would't want to do design work on that tiny screen, but it's a lovely compact little machine for a family room, student dorm or just a cramped desk – and you could always plug in an external display.
In fact, the only thing wrong with this over the original Macintosh is that you can't convert it into an aquarium. Perhaps thirty years hence, when this new Mac is itself retro, we could start converting them into ant farms instead?
No, wait, it's not real, is it? Have to keep telling myself that.
Mind you, it could be – with a little twist. Apple will never make this – even though it would have been a wonderful Thirtieth Anniversary Mac – but there's nothing stopping us making basically this design as a stand for an iPad.
Indeed, that's what I thought it was the first time I saw it. The only wrinkle is that you can't control iOS with a mouse, but the Bluetooth keyboard would work. And there could be a wireless connection to some extra internal storage. And those SD cards could still be read, either through the Lightning connector or wirelessly. And it could output to the stand's speakers. Hmm.
BRB; registering a Kickstarter account…
Words: Christopher Phin