On a rather momentous day in January 2008, Apple stunned everyone with what was undoubtedly the world’s thinnest laptop at the time. The then CEO of Apple, the late Steve Jobs, pulled out the MacBook Air from inside a manila envelope during the keynote. It measured 0.76-inch at its thickest point and 0.16-inch at the thinnest. “We’ve built the world’s thinnest notebook—without sacrificing a full-size keyboard or a full-size 13-inch display,” Steve Jobs had said at the time.
In many ways, Apple Inc. has stuck to the legacy set by Jobs, and has refused to redesign or make any wholesale changes to the MacBook Air, in the 10-years since. The ultra-slim unibody aluminium design, the metal build and the no compromise combination of performance and battery life. The temptation must have been strong, with the constantly updated rivals including the Dell XPS, the Microsoft Surface devices and more.
Perhaps Apple leaned a tad too much towards retaining the old world charm and holding on to the nostalgia. As things stand, the MacBook Air still is stuck to a fairly old Intel processor and the display resolution hasn’t been changed either. Now, finally, it may be time to give the MacBook Air a generous dose of modernity, simply because the consumers are demanding it. Ever since the iPad Pro arrived on the scene a few years ago, with the 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch screen sizes, there have been fairly exaggerated reports of the MacBook Air’s demise. The iPad Pro, with the Smart Keyboard, was supposed to usher in the next frontier of mobile computing, which moved beyond laptops. While the iPad has carved its own niche, the MacBook Air is still very much around. More so because the price makes it the ideal entry point to the MacBook and macOS line-ups, and if you walk into a store selling these and stand around for a bit, you’ll probably see more of these being sold than any other MacBook. In India, depending on the deal you can snare, you’ll be able to get one of these for around Rs 60,000 for a 128GB SSD variant, which is more than enough power.
It is expected that Apple will update the MacBook Air this time around. Could this be the “one more thing” that Apple always keeps up its sleeve at the iPhone keynotes? If it is, the timing would be perfect. Intel has just announced the Amber Lake and Whiskey Lake chips (you’ll probably hear about these as the U-series or Y-series chips) for laptops, which can squeeze out as much as 16-hours of battery life, apart from faster connectivity and more grunt under the hood.
Then there is the question of the display. The 13-inch MacBook Air has what is perhaps the ideal screen size in a laptop. But Apple could instead use the 12-inch display seen in the MacBook to further shave off the inches from the MacBook Air, and redefine slim and light laptops. It is very unlikely that Apple will retain the same design that we have seen for the last 10-years, because if a refresh is lined up, Apple would probably go the whole distance and give it a new design too. Something inspired by the MacBook perhaps?
A $900 (around Rs 60,000) MacBook Air is what we hope for. And come to think of it, could a MacBook Air at this price actually spell bad news for its elder sibling, the MacBook? For the MacBook (Rs1,04,800 onwards) is priced far too close to the MacBook Pro variants (which are significantly more powerful, and also priced Rs1,04,900 onwards) but offers the sort of performance that you would expect a MacBook Air to offer for around Rs60,000.