Did Apple Just Declare The Death Of The MacBook Air?
At this week's Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) event, the company announced three new laptops, including small updates to the Air and Pro lines, alongside a giant update to the standard MacBook. Naturally, the new MacBook is grabbing most of the headlines, with its thin profile, overhauled keyboard, gold color option, and single USB port.
But take a close look at the specs and dimensions for all three models, and you'll notice a few oddities. Let's jump into the specs and see what we can find.
1. Matching prices for the MacBook and MacBook Pro
Apple has often featured a "good, better, best" pricing structure, with three clear tiers. The most familiar example is the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB for the iPhone, with each incremental increase in storage costing $100 more. You can see a similar pattern with the iPad, with the standard iPad Mini ($249), the iPad Mini 3 with retina display ($399), and the all-powerful iPad Air 2 ($499). There's no question: you simply get more for each dollar you pay.
With Apple's latest MacBook update, however, we see two models at the same price, each of which offers different benefits and drawbacks. The MacBook Pro remains the most powerful MacBook you can buy, with a 2.7 GHz processor and 10 hours of battery life, but it's now the bulkiest laptop of the bunch. Meanwhile, the new MacBook is less powerful, but much thinner and lighter. The tradeoffs here create an odd choice for consumers, who must sacrifice one benefit in order to receive another, rather than just decide how much they're willing to pay.
Notably absent from this price range, however, is any sort of premium MacBook Air…
2. The MacBook Air as the cheap option
The last time Apple had three distinct laptop lines was in 2010, when the company still made standard, Air, and Pro versions of the MacBook. Back then, both the Air and Pro were premium models. You could pay a bit more for a thin profile (the Air), or a lot more for a powerful model (the Pro). Jump ahead to 2015, and the Air has become the new budget model. Thicker than the new MacBook, underpowered, and still lacking a retina display, the MacBook Air is now the least desirable model in every aspect besides price.
Ten months ago, the Wall Street Journal was still calling the MacBook Air the best laptop you can buy. Today, it's just the cheap option.
Time flies in the world of tech.
3. The names don't make sense anymore
Of all the new MacBook numbers, the size and weight dimensions introduce the biggest questions. We can see that the new MacBook is both lighter (2.03 vs. 2.38 pounds) and thinner (0.52" vs. 0.68") than the MacBook Air. In fact, when it comes to thickness, the Air is much closer to the Pro than the new MacBook.
Add it all up, and the MacBook Air simply has no business owning the "Air" title. If anything, the sensible thing to do would be to flip the names of the MacBook Air and new MacBook.
Putting the Pieces Together
–> historically, Apple prefers to sell laptops at high price points
–> Apple tends to phase out old models at cheap price points (see: any old iPhone model, the 2.5-year-old iPad Mini)
–> the size and weight of the MacBook and MacBook Air no longer make sense, given the names
…it seems likely the MacBook Air's days are numbered. Across almost every product line, Apple is making every device as thin as possible, removing ports, shrinking internals, and refining their manufacturing processes. In 2008, Apple needed the "Air" label to emphasize the special nature of a new product. Today? "Air" isn't so special. It may not be official yet, but it looks like Apple is quietly putting the MacBook Air to sleep.
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The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.