The MacBook Air’s new design is rumored to see the biggest shake-up to the look of Apple’s cutest laptop since its launch in 2008.
If the reports are true, this strikes me as a doubly smart move by Apple: a new look that will appeal to many and encourage them to update, while actively being off-putting to others, effectively pushing them to buy a MacBook Pro. even if they don’t need electricity…
Apple’s separation of business and consumer laptops
Early Apple laptops were expensive and primarily aimed at business and professional users. It started in 1989 with the Macintosh Portable (although “portable” would have been a more accurate term), before we had the PowerBook series. The first of these was the PowerBook 100 in 1991, and the last of them was the PowerBook G4 (aluminum), sold between 2001 and 2006.
Apple’s first portable computer specifically aimed at consumers was the iBook, launched in 1999 as the iBook G3. The design was clearly inspired by the iMac G3, and although it looks more like a toy now, it’s managed to turn a laptop into a fashionable item.
Seen here alongside the PowerBook G3 aimed at business users, it couldn’t be clearer that the two machines were aimed at completely different markets:
Apple briefly revived the regular MacBook name for a pretty (and high-priced) 12 inch modelbut mostly since then it’s been the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Design post today
The wedge-shaped design has always been the main design differentiator between the Air and the Pro, but with the laptops open, when viewed from the front or the back, there’s not much to distinguish them. In the latest iterations, the Air is labeled under the screen, while the Pro is not, but both have the same aluminum casing and black bezels.
There isn’t much visual differentiation between the two machines for the casual observer. It’s great if you want a pro-looking machine without paying for pro-level performance that you don’t need, but don’t necessarily need. enough so good for Apple’s bottom line. The MacBook Air has always been the default Mac, and a rumored 15-inch model could make it the case even for those who like bigger screens for day-to-day tasks.
Also, other than some color options, there hasn’t been much to tell the different generations of MacBook Air apart. Those who care about looking cool in their local cafe can do so with a fairly old model.
Potential impact of a new MacBook Air design
We’re expecting a big design change in the upcoming models: they’re supposed to come in a range of colors, echoing those of the latest iMacs. This should include white goggles instead of black.
It could make a ground to persuade current MacBook Air owners to upgrade. For the first time since the launch of the Air, they can get a totally new look. Not just space gray or gold, but brand new pastel shades as well.
Many will upgrade because they like one of the new colors, while cool kids will do so to be seen as using the latest model rather than an older one.
Between the fantastic battery life of the M1 (and M2) chips and the new design, the new machines are going to fly off the shelves.
But there’s an additional factor that I think could also improve Apple’s bottom line: those white bezels.
Many don’t care. White or black, they don’t care. But there’s a significant minority of people who care, either because they find the white glasses distracting or simply don’t like the aesthetic. Some of these people will be willing to pay the premium for a basic MacBook Pro even if they don’t need the extra power. More money in Apple’s coffers.
There is a potential additional factor: traditional business users. The Air may give them all the power they need to run their spreadsheets and view their PowerPoint presentations, but they may be reluctant to show up to a client meeting with a green laptop. They may be willing to spend more for a more low-profile MacBook Pro. However, the previous iMac suggests they will have the option of buying a standard-looking silver model.
While most reports suggest we’ll have to wait until next year to find out Apple’s plans, Mark Gurman suggested we could see the new MacBook Air launched at WWDC in June.
What is your opinion? If you have an existing MacBook Air, do you plan to upgrade it when the new design becomes available? And are you one of those who would buy a Pro over an Air just for the dark glasses? Please let us know in the comments.
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