Not So Fast: A new MacBook Air could be good

by Uluroo — 5 March 2018

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has predicted that Apple will release a new, less-expensive MacBook Air sometime in the second quarter of 2018. Fans everywhere are rejoicing—

Great. New MacBook Air rumors. Again.

Gizmodo's Alex Cranz is having none of it. Just trash the crummy laptop already! She says, "Apple, Please Ignore the Latest Rumor and Let the MacBook Air Die."

my money is on the analyst, but boy I want him to be wrong. As I’ve said before, the MacBook Air needs to die. It’s been over a year and a half since Apple effectively killed the MacBook Air with the release of the $1300 MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar with i5 processor. The only reason the MacBook Air clings to life support is because it’s the only Mac laptop available for under $1000.

Okay, Uluroo can agree that the MacBook Air isn't really adequate competition for other sub-$1000 laptops. Cranz rightfully points out that the lack of a Retina display and three-year-old processors make it outdated compared to the Windows landscape. But he can think of some reasons a consumer may prefer the Air over, say, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which Cranz says has effectively killed the Air:

- It still has better I/O, at least for some people. There are some consumers who would prefer two USB-A ports, a MagSafe connector, an SDXC card slot, and a Thunderbolt 2 port over two USB-C ports (or one USB-C port on the MacBook).

- Some people may prefer its keyboard to the butterfly mechanism on the MacBook Pro.

- It's more affordable.

Especially among Apple customers who are on a budget, the Air is good enough — and even better than the Pro in some respects — that it's a significant part of Apple's notebook lineup. But yes, in the end, it can't really hold its own against Windows laptops — except for the presence of macOS. If you really value macOS — and that's kind of the reason people tend to buy Macs, because PCs can offer higher specs — a sub-$1000 option is good.

The MacBook Air, in its current iteration, is done. It’s dead.

So what can Apple do to fix it?

For starters, how about lowering its price?

Imagine if the MacBook Air's price were lowered to $799. It would gain huge numbers of sales and would be much stiffer competition against the PC market. Of course the Air is not good enough in its current iteration in its current price. But Apple shouldn't solve that by murdering it. If the price of the Air is lowered to $799 or $899 and it receives a newer processor, it'll be very good competition both against PCs and against Apple's own MacBook and MacBook Pro.

In other words, Uluroo can agree that the MacBook Air is flawed in its current state. It's not even able to hold its own against the rest of Apple's lineup. But Apple doesn't need to be so drastic as to kill it — a price drop will do the trick.