Apple developing new MacBook Ether?

“Apple has disrupted several industries over the last decade or so. Most recently, the introduction of the iPad has launched the meme ‘the death of the PC,'” J. M. Manness writes for Seeking Alpha. “If the iPad was right hook to the gut, knocking the wind out of the PC, will a new ‘MacBook Ether’ be the knockout punch?”

“The MacBook Airs have also been extremely popular. CNET just reported on Saturday (via MacDailyNews): ‘The MBA grabbed 56 percent of U.S. thin-and-light laptop sales in the first five months of the year, Stephen Baker, an analyst at the NPD Group, told CNET,'” Manness writes. “Also, for the last several years, the Air has frequently rated number one laptop on”

“That is, until very recently. Now the number one spot consistently goes to the Samsung Chromebook, a laptop selling for just $249. (The 13″ Air at $1094, is currently #3, right behind a MacBook Pro,)” Manness writes. “[TSMC] will begin producing A9 and A9x processors in the third quarter of next year. Quartz puts this together to suggest that Apple will replace the Intel processors in MacBook Air. With new faster chips, Apple could produce the Air with their own A-series.”

Manness writes, “But I do not see this happening. The MacBook Air is solidly positioned as Apple’s entry level, full scale laptop. For every jump in A-series performance, Intel will do the same with their line. No, Apple will not do this to the Air. They will do it to a new line – I hypothesize it will be the MacBook Ether.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The perfect companion for iWork for iCloud?

Related articles:
How long before Apple dumps Intel from MacBook Air? – June 26, 2013
Piper Jaffray: Intel’s foundry prospects dim with TSMC-Apple deal, IBM progress – July 1, 2013
Apple to buy chips from TSMC as it attempts to extricate itself from dependency on Samsung – July 1, 2013
TSMC wins three-year deal to supply Apple with A8, A9, and A9X chips, say sources – June 24, 2013
‘Breakthrough Apple product’ looming? Imagination Technologies and TSMC strengthen technology collaboration – March 25, 2013
TSMC CEO comments signal massive next-gen Apple A-series chip orders – January 19, 2013


  1. This idea isn’t terrible, but I think it’s a couple of years away. I really think there could come a time when Apple does its own take on a convertible laptop/tablet hybrid (it won’t look anything like the cheap crap already in this category, though).

    I’m not smart enough to know what it will look like, but I think at some point it would be the natural device to either fuse iOS and X or have them switch back and forth depending on what you’re using the device for at the time.

    Seems to me if Apple is ever going to change chip architectures again on the Mac lineup this would be the sort of device to start it with.

    1. “(it won’t look anything like the cheap crap already in this category, though).”

      Right. I think Apple has demonstrated that mobile devices need to be light and have long battery life. MS Surface sacrifices on both. At some point, when Apple’s own chips are robust enough to deliver sufficient horsepower to run OS X while not sacrificing on the mass or battery life, a MacBook ether could appear.

  2. I remember an mdn article a year or two ago about how to run Windows 7 at full power and full speed on your un-hacked iPad. How? By using a company’s offering, which was fully net based. When you signed up they would license a copy of win 7 for you and run it on their zippy servers according to what you wanted to do. Your iPad would be a window into the virtual system.

    Unfortunately you’d need a persistent connection, but thinking like this will surely result in some wild new opportunities for users over the next five years. And probably very inexpensive ones.

  3. Getting the full OS X, with all the non-touch Cocoa API’s, to work on ARM processors would require Apple to spend significant time and resources. App developers would have to support both architectures – which would probably cause an App divide between each platform. It would also be an ongoing commitment – every OS X update would have to support both architectures moving forward. It would also add an extra step to all Mac tech support, “Do you have an Intel or ARM Mac?”.

    I’m not saying Apple couldn’t do it, or hasn’t done similar things in the past – by why would they in this case? It’s not like Intel has been slacking off – every chip they make is more efficient and faster than the last, and just reached all day battery life. Portable Macs are not suddenly going to be so much more popular than iOS that they will be worth throwing all these extra time and resources at. ARM doesn’t even offer any advantage for high end “truck driver” computing, the supposed future of the Mac platform. If that’s really the direction Apple thinks Macs are going, and if Apple was willing to devote resources to support more than one Mac architecture, it would make more sense for Apple support power guzzling PowerPC processors again – at least then pros would see significantly faster performance over Intel (that they can’t find with Window). But we all know that will never happen.

    Speaking of Windows, this is EXACTLY what they did – they started supporting ARM processors, creating an App divide between Windows 8 on Intel and ARM. This is just another case of a random analyst insisting Apple should do what Windows does, despite it not making sense for Apple.

    1. The only difference would be differentiation. If Apple believes that the chips it would design would be better than the “commodity” Intel chips that everyone else uses, then it could be a selling point.

      Of course, do this and you lose the ability to run Windows natively — but the “embrace and extinguish” move has been played by Apple now since 2006 and maybe Cupertino now feels that it doesn’t need that card to play when attracting new customers.

  4. Chromebooks should not be in the same category as laptops, they are not full fledged computer but are a web terminal that is basically useless without an internet connection.

    1. Does it have to be that way? Even if all it has is a web browser, a device like that should be able to include useful html5 apps that run locally and have some type of persistent storage. Things like calender, notes, calculator, and the like. That would go long a way in making it a useful device.

  5. baseless speculation.

    Apple’s move to Intel is specifically what saved the Mac platform. Attempting to replace the chipset of the Air with a non-Intel compatible chip would be stupid. Moreover, the MS Surface RT tells you all you need to know about attempting to blur the lines between touch devices and fully-capable laptops while using an ARM chipset. What incentive does Apple have to repeat this disaster?

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