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Opinion: Get ready to wave goodbye to the MacBook Air, and say hello to additional MacBooks

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Trying to predict the future of technology is a risky endeavor at best, and never more so when attempting to do it with one of the most secretive companies in the field.

But never let it be said I don’t ‘fess up when my predictions don’t pan out. Two years ago, I reckoned that the MacBook Air and Pro ranges would have merged by now. When the MacBook Air was first launched, it made a lot of compromises to fit into that slim casing. But over the years, the Air got more powerful and the Pro started to make similar compromises in pursuit of a sleeker form-factor. Both went SSD, both went non-upgradable RAM, neither had an optical drive, neither had an Ethernet port.

It seemed to me then that the differences between the two ranges would continue to dwindle until there was really nothing to separate them. But as things turned out, Apple had one surprise in store for me … 

The MacBook Air wasn’t the end of the company’s ambitions when it came to making a laptop as slim as humanly possible. It of course launched an even sleeker model, the 12-inch MacBook.

macbook

The new MacBook represented an even greater compromise. A less powerful Core M processor. A single port. A keyboard that scarcely moves. No ability (yet, at least) to drive a Thunderbolt display. A non-HD camera. Though it did gain a Retina display.

So it’s clear that, while I may have been correct that the Air and Pro ranges were converging, Apple isn’t planning on having just a single MacBook range. What, then, does it have in mind?

range

One thing I think we can be sure of: it doesn’t intend to have three MacBook ranges indefinitely. The current line-up is messy for two reasons. First because you have a machine whose spec sits beneath the MacBook Air in many respects, yet has a better display and a higher price-tag. Second, it makes no sense nomenclature-wise that the MacBook Air be chunkier than the MacBook.

That second point is the biggest clue to Apple’s intentions, in my view. The only possible way it makes sense for Apple to label it just MacBook (rather than MacBook Ultra or similar) is if it knows that the MacBook Air range is on the way out. That we will, in the not too distant future, have just two ranges: the MacBook and the MacBook Pro.

air

This morning’s report of new MacBook Air models next year might seem to suggest that the change isn’t coming next year, but I wouldn’t set too much store by that. Leaving aside the sketchy source, it’s entirely possible that the facts are correct but the label is wrong. Remember that everyone assumed the Retina MacBook would be labelled as a MacBook Air until Apple announced the name.

That possibility would make sense of the fact that the rumor references 13- and 15-inch models, but not an 11-inch one: that slot has already been filled by the 12-inch MacBook. The report gives no details, just says the new machines will be thinner, lighter and have substantial component changes. Make a MacBook Air thinner, lighter and with internal changes and you’ve got … a MacBook in two more sizes.

So whether the latest report is right or wrong, I think there’s little doubt that the MacBook Air label is living on borrowed time. At some point – be it 2016 or 2017 – we’re going to have an ultraportable range called the MacBook, and a revamped beefier range retaining the MacBook Pro label.

compare

This approach would also re-establish a clear differentiation between the two ranges. I mentioned the diminishing differences in spec between them at present, and I wrote about my own practical demonstration of this when my 11-inch MacBook Air did a remarkable job of standing in for my MacBook Pro. If Apple isn’t converging the two ranges, it needs to more clearly delineate them – and reducing the capabilities of the MacBook Air down to the level of the MacBook achieves that.

So, we end up with the MacBook range in, let’s say, 12-, 13- and 15-inch models – and the MacBook Pro in its existing 13- and 15-inch forms. And maybe even 17-inch … ok, probably not, but I still haven’t given up hope.

The MacBook is the lightweight range, both physically and performance-wise, with its mobile processor and single port. The MacBook Pro is the heavyweight, with desktop-class processor and powerful discrete graphics card.

usb-c

Both will, though, likely have one thing in common: that USB-C port. I’m sure the new MacBook Pros will have more than one of them, but now Intel has integrated Thunderbolt 3 into the port, it becomes even more powerful. As I suggested earlier, leaving behind legacy ports and requiring adapters for existing devices will be a pain-point in the short-term, but provide a far neater solution in the longer-term, as peripherals get replaced with ones that use the new standard.

Am I right? That the MacBook Air range will be replaced with the MacBook range? Take our poll, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. rogifan - 7 years ago

    Finally someone talking sense. Thanks Ben!

    • dcj001 - 7 years ago

      rogifan.

      You think that this is talking sense?

      “This morning’s report of new MacBook Air models next year might seem to suggest that the change isn’t coming next year, but I wouldn’t set too much store by that.”

      “I wouldn’t set too much store by that.”

      Huh?

  2. Simon (@SDV_21) - 7 years ago

    I like to think that one day we’ll end up with a 4K retina 17″ MacBook Pro

    • avieshek - 7 years ago

      4K retina for 13″ & 5K retina for 15″ while 8K retina for iMac

    • aerobat01 - 7 years ago

      I have a first gen 17″and it just gave up. The DRAM limit isn’t wide enough to run the Photoshop stuff I do … nor is the GPU so it wasn’t worth repairing. I bought an iPad Pro to at least be able to preview my work to clients in the field. But that’s just a stop gap hoping they will eventually bring the 17″ back. For a while I thought about carrying around a Mac Mini and keyboard and using client’s monitors but that didn’t seem like it would look very professional.

  3. uniszuurmond - 7 years ago

    Ben, I am almost on board. I think those 13 and 15 inchers are actually 14 and 16 inchers, sitting in the same footprint as 13 and 15. That would result in one of two possibilities.

    ONE
    A single range of MacBook, differentiated by size: 12″, 14″ and 16″, with the latter filling the hole left by the 17″.

    TWO
    Two ranges of MacBook, for now, available as 12 and 14 inchers for the MacBook and 14 and 16 inchers for the MacBook Pro.

    I do, however, think that a single line makes more sense to the end user, who chooses on size first, then on guts. Much like the iPhone, which, incidentally, also has rumors of a third size in the same design as the 4.7″ and 5.5″.

    Therefore, if I may be that arrogant, I’d like to bolt onto your opinion and state that the future of Apple may very well lie in Small, Medium and Large for all its products. It could even be a whole new naming convention…

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I do think 14- and 16- inch models are possible. As you say, Apple could probably fit those into the existing outer dimensions. But I think my former theory of a single line has been blown out of the water by the MacBook. Non-tech consumers will choose on size and price; techies will choose on spec.

      • uniszuurmond - 7 years ago

        Totally agree, but I do miss the Apple of once, where regardless of the model, it was guaranteed to have good spec. In other words, the MacBook gets bumped up as an entry level 12″, an even more powerful 14″ (with two Thunderbolt USB-C ports ;-), and a range-topping super powerful 16″ (with four Thunderbolt USB-C ports!). In other words, consumers get what techies like. Oh it’s fun to day dream.

    • therealityist - 7 years ago

      I would say do away with the Air. Bring in a 14″ MacBook Retina with 2 ports. Keep the 12″ the way it is, but give it a slight processor boost. Maybe add a second port. Keep the 13″ and 15″ Pros, but slimmed down a little more with 2 USB C and SD. No more standard Thunderbolt.

  4. avieshek - 7 years ago

    How ab’t this nomenclature
    12″ as (MacBook), 14″ (MacBook Air), 16″ (MacBook Pro)

    Just like the iPad line-up and even the iPhone likely to become basically a trio.. all based on screen sizes.

    There’s no difference really, other than screen sizes and thats how the future seems for the naming progression.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      No, the differences between the MBA and MBP were diminishing, but the differences between the MB and MBP are vast.

      • avieshek - 7 years ago

        There’s also a truth that whatever Apple plans, is for eternity rather than short-term.
        There’s also a thing that the 13″MacBook Pro and 15″MacBook Pro aren’t priced same nor the 12″MacBook is priced less. There’s LPDDR5 (which might not help much bringing performance on a fan-less mac) but the iPad Air and Pro are also vastly different from wh’t a user can do.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        MacBooks have absence of Thunderbolt,probably because the low end laptop users doesn’t use Thunderbolt storage. What a shame.

      • uniszuurmond - 7 years ago

        Remember the original Air? Shortly afterwards it changed to become the entry level MacBook, with very different specs. I think Apple was “feeling things out” with the MacBook, but that the ACTUAL one, the new version, will be a much more powerful machine, and even with just one port plus audio, it could easily transition into a single product line of 12″, 14″ and 16″ MacBooks. So those vast differences could, just like last time, disappear overnight.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        I do still suspect that in the long-term, we’ll probably have a single range – but a lot could happen between now and a theoretical then …

  5. mathewledbetter - 7 years ago

    i agree, and it makes sense that they will probably drop Air from the iPad name as well next year.

  6. avieshek - 7 years ago

    The MacBook isn’t a touch-screen and there’s no reason to have bezels as well it’s easier to have almost bezel-less display rather than on a iPhone’s 3D-touch display. So, without increasing the size of the MacBook, the screen-size can be increased. Notice, how the “MacBook Pro” moniker has been totaly eliminated?

    • Vincent Conroy - 7 years ago

      I think the aluminum silver bezels need to go, but Apple has always said that the black bezels enhance the viewing experience on its Macbooks. And while the bezels on the Macbook Pro are on the thick side, the ones on the 12″ Macbook are reasonably small. I think if they used that same formula for all models, it’d be easier to stomach. The bezel on the MBA just look cheap and old.

      • avieshek - 7 years ago

        The reason iPad has a bezel ‘coz one needs to hold the iPad. The iPad’s bezel only reduced on the fact that it developed palm-rejection technology.

        The MacBook on the other hand, isn’t anything like that. It doesn’t ‘ve a touch-screen and as we all know will never be touch-screened. So, the MacBook isn’t complicated with having another layer for touch-screen, 3D-touch or in the future integrated touch-ID. Therefore, it isn’t a complicated task to have a bezel-less display on a MacBook rather than on iOS devices.

  7. Kawaii Gardiner - 7 years ago

    I actually had the opposite opinion, that the MacBook Air would become the entry level ‘cheap and cheerful’ but then again I guess it depends on whether they can drive down the cost of the Retina displays to the point that they can slide in an entry level MacBook at close to the same price as the MacBook Air and thus you’d have the MacBook and MacBook Pro in much the same way that you have the iMac and Mac Pro. The big question I have is where the Mac mini is going to sit given that it hasn’t be updated in quite some time and same can be said for the Mac Pro.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      My guess is that Apple only included the Retina screen in the MB precisely because it knows it can include it in a future entry-level version.

      • rogifan - 7 years ago

        Plus all entry-level iOS devices have retina displays. No reason Apple can’t do the same with Macs.

  8. Vincent Conroy - 7 years ago

    This makes total sense both for consumers and for Apple. I think the Retina Macbook was a precursor to what the Macbook Air would become, but it didn’t make sense to pay $1300 for a Macbook that wouldn’t be as powerful as its $899, slightly bulkier counterpart. I’m still not a fan of the 12″ Macbook’s keyboard, and I don’t want to see MagSafe connectors go away, but if we’re talking about making an affordable, ultra-portable PC, a 12″ Macbook with Macbook Air specs is the way to go.

    Now if we could just do something about that bloated iPad product line…

    • rogifan - 7 years ago

      The iPad line isn’t really bloated. You have the mini, Air and Pro. The only reason it seems loaded is because Marketing feels they need iPads at all these different price points. Personally I think Apple should just have iPad and iPad Pro. Maybe have two 7.9″ devices (one being the previous years model at a cheaper price that would be the entry level iPad) one 9.7″ device and them the 12.9″ Pro.

  9. avieshek - 7 years ago

    So, the question actually is.. Will it have the headphone jack or lightning port? Will the MacBook be made from 7000 series aluminium?

  10. AJ Meadows - 7 years ago

    I agree with you, Ben. As soon as Apple announced the 2015 Macbook, I knew the Air was on its way out.

  11. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Here’s my frustration with the current MB design. I think Apple should have at least 3 ports on them. 1 MagSafe for power/battery charging. 2 for USB. 3 one Thunderbolt. Why? Well, to me, this might be a perfect device to use as a media server. Why? Fanless. Fans create noise that seeps into the audio signal. MacMinis make great media servers because they have one small fan in them. 2 if they give you one USB and one Thunderbolt, then I can connect the USB to a USB DAC in a nice stereo, and then use a Thunderbolt port for a nice storage box to store a large catalog of AIFF or whatever files.

    If one connects a computer to a stereo using a USB connector for the DAC, then you can’t have another USB device, storage, because the data that’s streaming to the USB DAC will get affected due to the increased bandwidth if you are using USB for storage.

    If they had a Thunderbolt port and a separate MagSafe port for charging, that unit would be insane for use as a media server. I’ll wait and see what they end up with. It would also be nice if you could get 16GB of RAM as well.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I think that’s a very edge case! There’s not much point in a display in a media server. But I can see your thinking all the same – I did in fact once use a netbook hooked up to a big hard drive as a media server.

    • Stetson - 7 years ago

      Why would you need a separate Magsafe port? You can already charge and use data at the same time with the right cable or dock.

      I think we’ll see 2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports, since Thunderbolt 3 is built on top of the USB-C connector.

  12. Dominik Javorek - 7 years ago

    I always thought that Apple is trying to unify their line-ups in all product ranges.
    When iPad Air and Mini were introduced, I thought that Apple is trying to get to a point where they will be offering 3 sizes of their products in all categories. iPad Mini, Air and Pro. Just as the do with Macbook Air, Pro and Mac Mini. They even introduced 2 iPhone sizes, even though the names didnt fit in my theories (I justified that by the fact that iPhones don’t differ in matter of specs, it’s just the screen size that changes, while the rest of the “Pro”s and “Mini”s differed in far more than just a screen size), it was still pretty close. Also, there was a lot of rumours about 4 inch iPhone before every following iPhone keynote, so it kinda followed my plans…
    Until last year, when they introduced the Macbook and that made me totally confused and I don’t know what their plan is. But I probably start to believe that they are going the way you just described.

    • Apple carves NOTHING in stone. There is and has never been a plan to fix any (and/or all) product line(s) on a specific number of devices. Everything is sales and forecasting based and you can see dramatic changes in outward product mix every so often – as has happened time and again over the past 15 years.

  13. It will be interesting to see how they clean up the laptop lines.

    I find myself a bit in limbo when I think about what laptop I would buy now if I needed one. With my work, I have access to top-end MacBook Pro 15″ discrete graphics power-house machines, and they are great. The users I support utilize them, and they are worth the expense, although they haven’t come down in price point in many years now, despite getting mechanically simpler.

    While I support high-demand users, my own personal use is not that demanding, but not quite ready for completely going to a mobile iOS device, either.

    I am not sure that I need discrete graphics with IRIS 6000 series getting better than the previous generations, and having no problem driving the internal display and perhaps one reasonable external display or projector well.

    However, I do prefer 8-16GB of RAM, and 500GB of PCI-bus solid-state storage. I would probably dial back processor speed or core counts before cutting memory speeds and capacity.

    A retina screen is a must. After living with one, I am not a fan of going backwards. With devices like iPads going to “retina” resolutions, and iMacs pushing 4K and 5K displays, and TV sets moving beyond 1080 toward 4K… any resolution where the eye can see pixels and text is less than razor sharp, is not a current product viability.

    Ports. One USB-c is not enough, even if it gains Thunderbolt3. Two at a minimum, please. It is bad enough to need more adapters than ever for USB, Lightning, and everything otherwise… but to need a big docking port multiplier is not acceptable as a necessity, and goes against Apple’s functionality, and is taking Apple’s minimalism too far. A direct-connect peripheral and a power cord at the same time, without adapters required (if the peripheral is the same format as the computer’s port), should be a minimum.

    Right now, this sort of product is a mix between MacBook (screen but not performance or ports), MacBook Air (a bit more power, some ports, not the screen) and MacBook Pro 13″ (all, but a bit expensive, and the design is ready to be succeeded by a next-gen product and next-gen chipset)

    I can potentially see Apple going toward an iPad-like 3-product progression. MacBook Mini 11″, MacBook Air 13″, and MacBook Pro 15″, even if they don’t use the same naming convention. I am just using the names to illustrate the parallels.

    MacBook Mini – 11″ retina screen, and 2 USB-c, and perhaps limited TB3 featured ports, much like current MacBook with mobile processor, or even possibly a variant of the A9X or future A10X, as they continue to improve and impress. the traditional-laptop-format, and Mac OS X alternative to iOS iPad Pro.

    MacBook Air – 13″ retina screen, possibly closely related to iPad Pro’s 12.9 display, sans touch capability, scaled up from MacBook Mini, at least 2 USB-C+TB3 ports, perhaps 3 + 1 HDMI direct video output, and a legacy 3.5mm audio/toslink port, for physical connections to legacy presentation systems that use VGA/DVI and analog Audio. Variable amounts of RAM, PCI-SSD capacities, and i5 and maybe even a BTO quad-core i7 processor option, to supplant the current Pro-13 unit.

    MacBook Pro – 15″ retina screen, or possibly 16″ with reduced bezel width in a 15″ class footprint. 16-32+ GB RAM, PCI-SSD 500GB-1TB, with choices for i5, i7, and all configs above the base model with discrete GPU. at least 3 USBc-TB3 ports, HDMI direct output, and perhaps keep the internal SD memory reader for direct high-speed importation of high-cap video/photo camera media for users who swap out memory cards and continue to shoot, rather than taking the camera’s time to offload media. Combining USB and TB connectivity into a single port specification can help, but a pro user still needs to be able to connect multiple peripherals of various formats, as well as power input, without juggling cables, and un-mounting devices repeatedly, as well as keeping the power demands met, rather than depleting the battery under heavy load. A current MacBook Pro 15″ has 6 ports between power, thunderbolt, USB, and HDMI. Making them common format under the USB-c standard socket is modular, but doesn’t eliminate the need for multiple simultaneous paths for a Pro user.

    It will be interesting to see how they align the products, even if they don’t use the ‘Mini-Air-Pro’ name progression.

    • griffinjar - 7 years ago

      I did not read this post. Too long.

      • Sounds like a personal issue, and I am not sure why it warrants an announcement…

        Not sure if it is applicable anyway, if a few paragraphs are too much to read in less than a minute.

      • Perhaps mommy can read it to you, especially with all those big words he used.

  14. Martin Scott Dudek - 7 years ago

    I definitely think that the line is going to be reduced at some point back to two offerings… but I just think they’ll still be called the ‘Air’ and the ‘Pro’ – with ‘Macbook’ being the line as a whole. I think the iPad has shown that Apple’s invested in that nomenclature.

    Basically, at some point I think the retiring of the current Macbook Air line up is going to coincide with the New Macbook being relabeled as the ‘Macbook Air.’

  15. The biggest problem , IMO is that there hasn’t been a truly “Pro” calibre Macbook in years – caveat: that’s in the sense of “pro” denoting a super high end machine with plenty of horsepower and bells and whistles, not a machine used strictly by “professionals” because that might very well be the lowest end machine for most professional persons.

  16. Drew Pitchford - 7 years ago

    How long until we get an A-Chip Macbook? The A9 in the 6s already outperforms the Macbook and the A9X shows the A-chips can be seriously powerful. Stick that in a MacBook and Apple has my money.

  17. griffinjar - 7 years ago

    It has to bottom out at some point when CPU, peripherals and the end user’s needs all merge into one. Just a super
    Power chip, usb type c and 1minute rendering for a 2 hour 4K film.

    This will leave only the screen size as a differentiation option.

    What’s the size difference between the usb type c port and the lightening. Will they one day merge and we will have a true single port. Imagine a world without adaptors! Without nearly having the right plug!

  18. Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

    I believe that, as prices for building Retina displays are going down, we will see the end of conventional screen in Apple line of products eventually.
    So to me: MacBook 12″ and 14″, MacBook Pro 13″, 15″ and possibly 17″ (I had one, it was terrific). All Retina, all SSD, all USB-C. Possibly, the current MacBook Air will continue along the others in 11″ and 13″ for a while with a reduced price. Eventually the MacBook 12″ will be at the same price (or near) as today’s MacBook Air, which also droped quite substantially a year or 2 after being introduced. All of this makes alot of sense to me.

  19. animatedude - 7 years ago

    Yeah…..what’s wrong with 10-inch Macbook mini?

  20. Eric Matthews - 7 years ago

    Lot’s of silly and not-so-silly speculation. I really wan’t Apple to get the hell on with it. Even with Black Friday and Cyber Monday pricing, there isn’t a single MacBook that I would spend money on right now. It’s all old technology, especially the MacBook Air, with decades old screen technology. This Christmas feels more like closeout pricing on old Mac gear than saving a few dollars on the latest technology.

    A coworker brought his shiney new Surface Pro 4 into the office today, and I must admit that I’m very impressed with it. Right now, if you don’t need OS X, it IS the MacBook Air replacement – thin and light. It’s a shame that Apple let this happen, but I never thought Tim Cook was all that special. I mean look at Apple Watch..it’s totally useless…but it’s what Apple has been spending it’s time on in lieu of the Mac. Mac sales may be high, but the products are at an all time low…this will end in tears.

    • rogifan - 7 years ago

      Hyperbole much? Good grief Skylake stuff is just coming out and are the chips for the high end 15 inch MBP even available yet? The MBA line currently exists to be an entry point into the Mac ecosystem. It wasn’t updated with retina because it’s going away.

      • Eric Matthews - 7 years ago

        I don’t think it’s hyperbole. The New MacBook has too many compromises – crappy keyboard, one port, and butt slow – it really is a product that “went too far.” The MacBook Pro needs a meaningful update. I just got burned by Apple – discovering that my 2011 15″ MacBook Pro has no support for Metal applications. I have to do some Metal programming for my job and can’t until I get a new MacBook. But now is a very bad time to buy a new MacBook – old technology sold at new prices. So I’m very much in limbo – I need a new MacBook Pro desperately….but I will wait until Apple moves past the current hardware. It only makes sense given Apple’s poor support for Mac’s that are only 3 years old.

    • ericisking - 7 years ago

      My boss bought a Surface Pro 4, swayed by all of the hype and media coverage and guerrilla marketing. She returned it, after deciding it was basically a novelty touchscreen laptop which was (a) not as good a computer as her previous (Windows) laptop and (b) not as good a tablet as her iPad. She was seduced by the idea of replacing two things with one, which sounds nice in theory, but she came to decide that it’s better to have two great things than one average compromise. And she’s definitely a PC, by the way, so this wasn’t a Mac v Windows thing.

      I had a chance to play with the Surface, and I was amazed at how disappointing it is, having read all of the hype and hysteria on the web. I mean, it’s a laptop, basically….there’s barely any tablet software which is optimised for touch, so you really have to use it like a laptop with the keyboard, to get the most out of it. And at that point – what is the point of this thing? So it’s a small touchscreen laptop – OK, if you want a touchscreen (I don’t personally, but some people do); but there are other touchscreen Windows laptops available which are faster, cheaper and have a much better keyboard/trackpad. So at that point, again, what is the point of this thing? So you can use it like a tablet? Well, I’m sorry, but what makes a great tablet is great software, not the fact that you can pull the keyboard off.

      I was pretty shocked, to be honest, after reading nothing but praise for this thing since it was announced. I haven’t seen or used a SurfaceBook yet, but after this experience, I’m looking on that machine as potentially a novelty gimmick too. One thing, though – Microsoft has done a great job of emulating the Apple marketing machine! They really nailed it with the hype they generated. Ten out of ten for the Marketing; five out of ten for the computer.

  21. avieshek - 7 years ago

    Don’t you think 8GB RAM shl’d be standard now, in any mac?

  22. bb1111116 - 7 years ago

    For next year, the MB Air will remain. There are two lines; the Air and the MacBook+MBPro.
    The low end MacBook model by itself is not a line. It is a tablet style model (singel connector/light) in laptop form; a proof of concept idea.

    By contrast the Air is a maximum thinness / light weight design which is used by many media professionals. I don’t see it going away soon. What I see is it being upgraded (lighter with retina display).

  23. Robert - 7 years ago

    Ben, you could be right!

    On the other hand it might be that when Apple designed the new MacBook they had in mind it being the “Air”, however, since it fell short of the Air in power (Intel’s chips not advancing quick enough) and would be sold alongside the more capable Air, it had to be called, simply “MacBook”. If so, it might be that the name “MacBook” is eventually dropped in favor of “MacBook Air” once it’s performance in up to par.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      As a huge fan of the MBA 11, I’d be happier if that were the case, but unfortunately I don’t think it is likely.

  24. I think Apple will only remove the Air 11 inch from the line-up so it will be :

    12 Inch Macbook for max portability
    13 inch Macbook Air for a compromise between power and portability
    13 inch Macbook Pro more power marginally heavier
    15 inch Macbook pro for on the go power User

    What do you think ?

  25. thijsleufkens - 7 years ago

    Haven’t read all comments, so maybe someone else made the point already but I think it’s the Pro line which will disapear.

    Well actually: the Air relabeled as Pro (= a slimmer Pro)

    So indeed only 2 formfactors

  26. Smigit - 7 years ago

    I think it is on borrowed time, but hopefully when they do replace it they do so with a MacBook model that can compete with it on price, not necessarily across the board but a model that approaches a base 11″ or 13″ MBA price would be a good way to start, and scale up from there.

  27. Wow, I totally missed that Intel worked on integrating Thunderbolt in USB-C. This makes for a killer port. If it retains the daisy-chaining capability, the next gen MBP’s will probably have 2-4 of those, shamefully ditch the MagSafe connector and allow the sides to be quite a lot thinner. More importantly, I hope the skylake CPU’s (or whichever ones are first in the revamped MBP) will allow for thinner batteries, as I find the 15″ quite heavy now!

  28. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    I hope the updated machines they are working on are not as compromised as the MacBook. The MacBook like would be the one I would ditch not the Air.

    If Apple keeps all 3 lines I see them going 13″ and 15″Air and 14′ and 16′ Pro’s and keep the shitty over priced MacBook.Apple should used their A series chips in the Macbook and built a ARM comparable version of OS X.

    I would love to see a ARM comparable version of OS X at WWDC next year. Apple is getting more efficiency and power on their chips then Intel at a much faster pace.

    I would still vote for a smaller profiled 13″ MacBook Air and ditch the MacBook. With the iPad Pro Apple has 4 product lines in the 12″ to 13″ range. IF Apple made their own chips for the MacBook or waited for Skylake chips for the MacBook it might made more sense. The iPad Pro has more power and a better screen. Put a retina screen in a redesigned 13′ and 15″ MacBook Air and call it a day.

  29. My guess is we’ll see a full Retina MacBook line-up in 2016 with more powerful Skylake m3, m5 and m7 processors. Probably powerful enough to justify discontinuing the MacBook Air Lineup.

    It would be great to see bigger screen sizes for the Retina MacBook as well. I find the 12 inch a tad too small.

  30. thehhl - 7 years ago

    13″ MacBook Pro with quad core CPUs – Yes please!

  31. triankar - 7 years ago

    To answer the poll question: it makes sense.

    But I’d say that there will be just two “plain” MacBooks: a 12 inch and a 14 inch. Having 3 sizes for the MBr might be too much. I’m perfectly happy with my 13 inch rMBP in terms of screen real-estate, but I wouldn’t be fussed if the screen changed an inch in either direction. A 12 incher is probably the lower limit for my eyesight and a 14 incher would be welcome, but nothing I’d get excited about. 15 inches? It’s starting to be a bit more “pro” than it probably is meant to be marketed as..

    The 11 inch Air is a bit too crammed, especially in the light of the larger two iPads (assuming iOS gets a little more business-worthy next year) and the MBr. So, it makes good sense, feature-wise at least, to do away with it and leave the 12″ MBr as the “base” model, except for one thing: price.

    So, we’ll see how Apple is willing to price things. Right now I believe the MBr is unreasonably priced. A 1.3GHz/256GB MBr costs about as much as a 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB MBPr. Not a tough choice, really.

  32. wordpling - 7 years ago

    The second question will be “Do you think the change will cause you to move to a PC?”. My answer would be probably. Having owned two 11″ MBA’s and 1 13″ MBPR, I have to say that if Apple doesn’t give me a Mackbook (or Air) with a Retina screen and an i7 (or equivalent performance) in the next year, I’m jumping off this train. I am currently using the Macbook. I am OK with the changes, but it just can’t keep up with my previous 11″ 2013 MBA. If the 13″ MBR goes on a size/weight diet, that may work. Otherwise, something like a Dell XPS13 running Linux will be my next machine. Strike 1 was when Apple provided no Thunderbolt compatibility on the Macbook. They won’t survive strike 2 with me.

  33. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    Get rid of the Air and beef up the capability of the Macbook to similar levels and I’m good.

  34. AeronPeryton - 7 years ago

    I’ve known that the Air line was going to be replaced ever since Tim cook held up the MacBook in his hands asking the audience if they could even see it from the sides. The phrase “redesigned MacBook Air” only confirms it.

  35. uniszuurmond - 7 years ago

    How to merge all the MacBook lines into just one line of 6 models:

    12″ retina with Skylake 2.3GHz dual i3 (15W) with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD and 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports for $1100
    12″ retina with Skylake 2.3GHz dual i5 (15W) with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD and 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt portsfor $1300
    14″ retina with Skylake 2.4GHz dual i5 (15W) with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD and 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt portsfor $1600
    14″ retina with Skylake 2.5GHz dual i7 (15W) with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD and 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt portsfor $1900
    16″ retina with Skylake 2.7GHz quad i7 (45W) with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD and 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt portsfor $2200
    16″ retina with Skylake 2.9GHz quad i7 (45W) with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD and 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt portsfor $2500

    The trick would be to get a 15W machine to run without a fan, whereas the 16″ (Pro) would still need a fan. All machines will ditch all ports and magsafe in favour of USB-C/Thunderbolt, with adapters available for audio, HDMI, etc to keep costs down. The entry level price was kept down by reducing the SSD size, which can still be upgraded, and selecting cheaper yet powerful low watt Skylake chips which will be ready for commercial rollout in time for WWDC16.

  36. jb510 - 7 years ago

    Refreshing to see opinion written as such! Personally I’m thinking maybe MacBook 12 and 14 to replace the air line. With the MBP line remaining 13/15 or maybe even moving to 14/16. Eliminating the black bezel on the rMBP 15 you could get a 16 with going to a bigger foot print, and Apple’s clearly figured out how to do that with the current mobile lineup.

  37. E. Rasmussen (@h8rboi) - 7 years ago

    I disagree with you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the MBA13 strikes me as filling a niche as a comparatively entry-level-priced machine that is portable and powerful. It’s the computer for the university student who dislikes Windows, isn’t willing to shell out $1,000+, wants a laptop to carry from lecture to lecture, AND occassionally plays a relatively demanding Steam game. I personally think a large part of the success of the MBA13 comes from meeting these criteria, and I think Apple does too.

    So my prediction would be this:
    – The MBA11 is out. Apple will no longer release updated versions of it, as the Retina MB (12″).
    – The (non-Retina) 13-inch version will be phased out, i.e. receive incremental updates (such as TB3, and possibly ForceTouch) until at least 2017.
    – Spring 2016 will see the introduction of a MBA13 with retina display, as well as some incremental updates (such as TB3, and possibly ForceTouch).

    Also, I personally love the idea of a 14- and 16-inch MBP lineup, but I think, since the bezels of the MBPs are already as narrow as that of the Retina MB, Apple would increase the overall size to match the increase in display size. This might still be worth it, though, if it also meant making the laptops thinner. At any rate, if anyone can decide they want to do laptop with a 16-inch display (I don’t think there’s ever been one?), it’s Apple.

  38. Jack Ryan - 7 years ago

    Get the feeling we will be waving goodbye to the 13′ screen size too, if apple really are about to de clutter the lineup it would make perfect sense, I have the 12 inch macbook and I’ve gotta say the screen is gorgeous! also think the next set of macbook pros might be more wedge shaped, not to the extreme of the air and regular macbook but a design with a little more sex appeal would be nice (maybe no regular usb?) remember the uproar when they did that with the superdrive?

  39. Warren Mcclure - 7 years ago

    Now that I think about it, I think it would be really cool to have 12 inch and 14 inch macbooks, with good specs for consumers and 14 inch and 16 inch macbook pros for the pro users. If you think about it laptops are getting so thin its hard to imagine laptops getting much more thinner without sacrificing the keyboard, screen and/or overall build quality. So in other words I can see Apple getting rid of the MacBook air and replacing it with the macbook. These are just my thoughts, who knows I could be totally wrong

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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