Apple’s MacBook Air is on a path to extinction

“When Apple redesigned the MacBook Air in 2010, it created one of the best machines to ever carry its Mac label. That new laptop was a revelation: extremely thin and light, like the original Air, yet also powerful enough for most tasks and equipped with a long-lasting battery,” Vlad Savov writes for The Verge. “For years, the MacBook Air has been a standard-bearer, the role model for every Windows ultrabook, but 2015 has not been so kind to its leadership position. Apple introduced the new 12-inch MacBook and updated the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, both directly competing with the Air… And this week there’s the looming threat of the iPad Pro on the horizon. Has Apple forsaken what was once its best PC?”

“Apple is not a company that can be accused of doing things thoughtlessly, and the decision to leave the Air’s display at the lower quality and resolution must be taken as a deliberate one,” Savov writes. “In other words, Apple is comfortable with keeping the Air as a technological straggler in its lineup. That leaves us with a choice of two most likely scenarios: either the Air is destined for a future overhaul and its first redesign in five years or it has no future at all.”

“There’s not enough room in Apple’s lineup for a MacBook, a MacBook Air, and a MacBook Pro — the MacBook is Apple’s ultraportable machine of the future and the MacBook Pro is the do-it-all laptop of today,” Savov writes. “The MacBook Air’s position seems tenuous already, and if the alleged iPad Pro does indeed materialize, then we may as well bid adieu to the Air entirely.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Our favorite Mac of all time: the 11-inch MacBook Air. But, our next road machines won’t be Airs (unless there’s some radical overhaul set to debut). Our next road machines will either be new 12-inch MacBooks or, quite possibly, 12.9-inch iPad Pros. We can’t think of a single reason for the MacBook Air, as its currently formulated, given the current Mac notebook lineup, to exist.

37 Comments

  1. I worked at apple when the first air came out. Even then it was a signal at where laptops were headed. It always felt like a bridge until they could make it perform just as good as an entry level MacBook. Which the MacBook announcement earlier this year was.

      1. My 2013 13″ MacBook Air has a better score than the 2015 Airs. I’m very happy with the performance and design of the Air. I’d be sad to see the line ended, but the new MacBooks have effectively dug its grave.

    1. All In, Fred, I am all in here and now, do you hear me?

      Make it a serious MacbookPro14” and deliver

      • professional raw image editing with Aperture 4 (yep!)
      • state of the art movie rendering with FCPX and Motion
      • breathtaking 3D game performance on Nvidia (+Cuda) GPUs

      I would pay 3.500 for that machine, just like i did last year….

    2. I have no legiance to the Air name, as long as they make a bigger screen and an additional USB-C port that also has thunderbolt. Apparently the new chipsets can put the Thunderbolt protocol into the the USB-C form. It’s important so people can connect them to display port displays. Personally, I’d also like to keep the SD card slot, just because I put a JetDrive Lite into my SD card to store DropBox and Google Drive local directories I use for work.

    1. While what you say is true, Howie, Apple also has a history of trimming its product lines for simplicity. Often Apple has trimmed its product lines more than some customers like.

      The MacBook Air was a portable pathfinder for Apple. The original version was lacking in performance. After the MBA techniques and technologies were matured and proven with the second generation (which I own), Apple began rapidly deploying the light and thin approach to its MBP lineup, complete with retina display and SSD (my son has a 2014 13″ MBP). More recently, Apple released the new MacBook with USB-C, which is more “airy” than the MBA and has a much better display. This MacBook is the new Apple mobile pathfinder and fills the MacBook role in Apple’s traditional MB/MBP lineup. Personally, I do not see a reason to update the MBA unless Apple decides to position it as the new entry level MacBook. For the sake of simplicity, however, I believe that Apple will retire the MBA.

  2. Apple need a entry level laptop. At one time it was the MacBook and the Air was the ultra portable; that is now reversed. You still have students, switches and professionals who need an affordable ( sub $1000.00 ) laptop with several ports. So the name has changed the need hasn’t.

    1. A lot of us on this forum will be interested in your impressions of the 12″ MB as you get some experience with it.

      I understand your concerns about the elimination of MagSafe on the 12″ MB. It surprised me that Apple decided to drop MagSafe after making it a standard feature of MBs and MBPs. MagSafe became so accepted that Mac users started taking it for granted. I suppose that if a portable device has very long battery life, then there is less need for MagSafe. Also, Apple has to deal with the realities of standard interfaces – if there is only one port, then it had better be industry standard so that Mac users can purchase third party products. We do not want to go back to ADB and NuBus again. In this situation, Apple may have felt that eliminating MagSafe was the lesser of evils.

    2. I think the reason for dropping MagSafe is to make it the most portable laptop. You don’t need to bring a separate power brick with you, just use the one you have for your other devices.

  3. I love the MacBook Airs I purchased for my son and girlfriend. Not as much as my MBP, mind you, but they are great.

    For now, The new MacBooks are not at a point where they’re worth buying (for me), but I suspect it won’t be long. After all, the original MBA wasn’t worthy of my money either, and now it’s a great machine, despite the lack of retina on it.

    Expect the new tech in the MacBook to trickle UP to the other machines. 😀

    1. I passed on the first generation MBA – great concept, but too many compromises for me to buy it. It just did not offer enough value. The second generation MBA design represented a major leap forward.

      The first generation 12″ MB is appears to be a great first generation product. It obviously benefits from Apple’s design experience with the MBA and MBP. If I were in the market for an ultraportable Mac, then I would not hesitate to buy it, although I would personally favor the 13″ MBP. I would certainly not buy an MBA right now – it is either destined to be retired to be replaced. Either way, it would be a poor time to buy an MBA.

      1. I passed as well on the 1st gen Air and will not buy a squirrel of a 1st gen computer called the MB. There is simply too many compromises for me as well as required additions to make the thing usable in my little world.

  4. I want long battery life and the air still exceeds the macbook. I also want more computing power for video editing. I hope the air survives a while more until the macbook’s battery life and computing power matches or exceeds the airs.

  5. The backlit keyboard is a Pro feature and the MacBook Air is very much a light weight Pro. I felt the new MacBook was more Air than anything prior.

    The Air is getting the squeeze from the top and the bottom, just like the iPad Mini. All very good ideas for the time.

    This is a difficult call for Apple. All current models have subtle attributes, from each other. It’s easy to simply plaster the market with every variation, like other manufactures do. But I think keeping the lineup simple is what makes them great.

    If they drop the Air, because the MacBook is the right direction, the only thing Apple should address, is the keyboard, if it doesn’t effect battery life.

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