I have a friend who bought her own iBook. She had no option. Her employer required it.
We no longer live close and her reasons for iBook vs. something else I've never discussed in email with her that much.
She primarily does web design and digital photos are a common feature. She bought the (expensive) Adobe web design package and I think in her case she probably needs it. She *then* emailed me with several questions. I suggested much what I have above. When she'd had the iBook about a week and become familiar with it at home she spent several hours on a Saturday afternoon visiting Version Tracker doing what I've already mentioned.
I gave her a "starter" list but her choices varied from mine for the reasons mentioned. Four of my recommendations she was especially pleased with: BBEdit (she tried Lite first), GraphicConverter, PixelNhance and Resize X, with the last two being freeware. She also had a list of GUI utilities, already knowing Unix, but looking for something with the power or simplicity of use of a GUI. She's wound up with XRay, Apple's new Repair Priveleges, and MacDICT X.
There are obviously others whose names I've forgotten, including a few I'd never heard of.
I also essentially told her she gets no more "tech support" (a joke) from me unless she bought BBEdit, DiskWarrior (maintenance, repair utility), and Retrospect (backup). She really doesn't need any sympathy. Her work isn't that of day to day web design and I suspect her salary is probably in six figures.
I chided her for not getting a TiBook. She said she preferred the iBook. So much for that topic. :) Or possibly she was think about the future. About six weeks after she bought the iBook she was bought one of the new iMacs as well. :) Perhaps there was some foresight at work here. :)
The four best applications currently available for the Macintosh, OSX: BBEdit, Photoshop, Retrospect and Disk Warrior. Your mileage may vary. I consider all but Photoshop absolute requirements for every Mac OS X user. A new user needs to hear such things. If the user has time to visit the forums of MacFixIt, the Reader Feedback on MacInTouch, or listen to Your Mac Life with Shawn King these names will become familiar.
I'm glad some of the folks at O'Reilly are getting up to speed, and rapidly, with the Macintosh and OSX. But I notice that the lack of 5 or 10 years of experience can sometimes be a problem. A beginner's article like this is great, absolutely great! But wouldn't it be nice if we all had the gift of forethought and a veteran looking over our shoulder 12 hours per day the first few weeks with a new computer? :)
The three web sites mentioned are beginning to link to O'Reilly MacDEV on occasion. Now that's a compliment. :) Links from OSXFAQ.comfall in the same category.