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Apple to retain, redesign plastic MacBook family

post #1 of 126
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Once rumored for extinction, Apple's entry-level polycarbonate MacBooks are on the verge of a refresh that will solidify them at the base of the Mac maker's notebook offerings for the foreseeable future, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with Cupertino-based company's plans say the 13-inch portables are presently undergoing an industrial design overhaul that will see them reemerge in the coming months with a slimmer, lighter enclosure and restructured internal architecture to boot.

It'll be the first time in more than three years that the plastic Mac notebooks will receive a visual tune-up. Introduced in May of 2006, the white and black systems replaced the PowerPC-based iBook and 12-inch PowerBook as part of Apple's transition to Intel processors and quickly became the best selling Mac of all time, according to statistics from NPD Group.

The MacBooks were also among the first Macs to adopt Apple's MagSafe power connector while pioneering several other features that would become staples of future Mac notebook designs, such as shrunken soft-touch keyboards, glossy displays, and a non-mechanical magnetic latches (see: Magnet madness to hit Intel iBook line - Feb 2006).

Earlier this spring, Apple restructured its notebook offerings by repositioning its aluminum unibody MacBooks as premium offerings under the MacBook Pro moniker, adding long-requested features such as FireWire and higher-quality displays. This left the company with just a single MacBook offering, a white polycarbonate model that retails for $999 but sticks out like a sore thumb when positioned alongside its peers.

Still, sales of the sub-$1000 system have remained surprisingly brisk amid the economic crunch, leaving management little choice but to allocate R&D expenses in its favor. As of press time, Apple's online store indicates that the white MacBook is outselling all other Macs with the exception of the iMac, while similar rankings from high-volume resellers like MacMall also consistently place it in the top 10 best selling Apple-related products overall, ahead of all desktop-based Macs.

While it's unclear how many models or configurations Apple will introduce as part the redesign, Ben Reitzes -- an analyst with Barclays Capital who's been following the Mac maker for years -- sees the company offering several, at various price points.

"We [...] believe the MacBook line needs to be revamped (there is only one MacBook available now, an old white model) and that we could see a lower priced line soon, positioned below the new MacBook Pro models," he said.

Reitzes' comments on price points echo expectations laid out by AppleInsider this past April in its report on more affordable Macs. More specifically, it's believed that Apple is well-positioned to begin offering a model at considerable discount to the $999 entry-level model that exists today, further narrowing the gap with its Windows-based competitors.

Introduced in May of 2006, the current MacBook design has about run its course.

Though details are few and far between, Apple is expected to achieve these markdowns through largely existing tactics, such as using lower-end components and previous-generation Core 2 Duo chips and architectures from Intel Corp. Battery life should receive a boost from cutting-edge technology that recently found its way into the company's other notebook offerings, while high-end legacy features like FireWire connectivity are likely to be sacrificed in the tradeoff.

This strategy more closely conforms to Apple's DNA than alternatives that were under consideration late last year. For instance, AppleInsider has heard from multiple sources that the company toyed with the prospect of throwing an Intel Atom processor into the existing white MacBook enclosure as interim solution aimed at delivering a low-cost Mac portable for those consumers eying a Mac but hit hard by the recession.

However, at least one person familiar with the matter claims the initiative was abandoned indefinitely earlier this year, around the time that management solidified the forthcoming Newton web tablet for a first quarter 2010 roll-out and instituted a significant restructuring of the Apple TV development team.

Regardless of how the pieces fell into place, AppleInsider believes the bigger story is how Apple, once discounted for its role as a niche player in the market for premium computing products, is rapidly adjusting to having been broadsided by the sudden economic downturn. In a matter of mere months, it's successfully applied the same fundamentals and expertise that made it king of the luxury computing market to the space reserved for those strapped for cash. And it's doing so with class.

An assessment of Apple's portable computing lineup for Q2CY10 based on information presently available to AppleInsider.

Come the second quarter of next year, the company -- whose repertoire three years ago lacked a compelling offering for under a grand -- will off a staggering array of portable solutions ranging from $99 to $999. This includes the $99 iPhone 3G, $199-$499 iPhone 3GS, a sub-$999 MacBook family, and a multi-touch tablet device wedged between the latter two when fully subsidized.

Apple's new line of low-end MacBooks could be viewed as the last piece to the puzzle in Apple's top-to-bottom line of product offerings, transitioning the company from a premium PC and phone manufacturer to one that offers truly competitive prices on products in both categories.

Considering chief executive Steve Jobs's comments just last year that Apple is incapable of making a $500 computer to compete with netbooks that wouldn't be a "piece of junk," such a move would complete a subtle but significant metamorphosis for the Silicon Valley heavyweight, positioning it as an electronics maker offering a compelling portfolio of feature-rich products at virtually every price point.
post #2 of 126
every MBA 101 class says that once you reach some success you have to have products to protect the low end of your market because that is where your killer competition will come from. there is a long list of companies who thought they were safe at the high end of the market and are now gone.
post #3 of 126
Plastic dents less and scratch-resistant IMHO.
post #4 of 126
Quote:
every MBA 101 class says that once you reach some success you have to have products to protect the low end of your market because that is where your killer competition will come from. there is a long list of companies who thought they were safe at the high end of the market and are now gone.

Agreed.

Fair play to Apple if this road map comes about.

The Macbook needs a price range in the UK of £495-795.

Wintel laptops are available from £395.

It wasn't that long ago Apple offered a £695 iBook and an iMac for £695. I think they need to go lower than that this time.

They don't have to be Dell cheap...but cheaper than currently. I'm glad the Macbook is being realigned. It's overdue after the alu Macbook mistep that saw it changed to a 'Macbook Pro' with the Firewire port people wanted...and a price cut.

I hope we get a nice slender design. Plastic. Affordable. It's got to be cheaper than the current model by a good hundred pounds or so.

Same with the desktop line. The mac mini and iMac are due reality checks.

We'll see what the 'fall' brings...

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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post #5 of 126
I have been trying to convince certain friends to switch for ages, their reason is that they do not require a high powered computer and as nice as the Apple machines are £700+ a price point that they are willing to switch for especially as they see it as a risk.

Bring on the lower price points, I'll still stick with my Aluminium Macbook!
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iPad, Macbook Pro, iPhone, heck I even have iLife! :-)
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post #6 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by CU10 View Post

Plastic dents less and scratch-resistant IMHO.

I bought my first-gen MacBook in Summer '06 and it's been a great computer. However it does suffer from the chipping palmrest, hairline fractures around the speakers, etc. I will probably replace it with a high-end 13" MacBook Pro - my girlfriend has one and I love its casing! It feels SO much stronger than mine...
post #7 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

I have been trying to convince certain friends to switch for ages, their reason is that they do not require a high powered computer and as nice as the Apple machines are £700+ a price point that they are willing to switch for especially as they see it as a risk.

Bring on the lower price points, I'll still stick with my Aluminium Macbook!

I have an aluminum one too, for almost a year now...i wished it'd break so i could get a new one, doubt it will happen soon

I've successfully converted 4 unhappy PC users to MAC and they'll never come back to hell. Still thank me for it.
post #8 of 126
if my desktop died today and i needed to buy a PC for my wife to sync her iphone to, i'd probably go for a dell. i can get a dell laptop that's about the size of a MBP with LED backlit screen, backlit keyboard, etc for like $700.

if there was a macbook with a 15" screen for $700 i'd look at it. don't see the point in paying for Garage Band if i'll never use it.
post #9 of 126
Good. Chop another $100 off the price, too.
post #10 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

I have been trying to convince certain friends to switch for ages, their reason is that they do not require a high powered computer and as nice as the Apple machines are £700+ a price point that they are willing to switch for especially as they see it as a risk.

Bring on the lower price points, I'll still stick with my Aluminium Macbook!

My 2006 Black MacBook is still going strong. I quite like the design.

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others.
15" Matte MacBook Pro: 2.66Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, GT330m 512MB, 512GB SSD

iPhone 5 Black 32GB

iPad 3rd Generation, 32GB

Mac Mini Core2Duo 2.26ghz,...

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Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others.
15" Matte MacBook Pro: 2.66Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, GT330m 512MB, 512GB SSD

iPhone 5 Black 32GB

iPad 3rd Generation, 32GB

Mac Mini Core2Duo 2.26ghz,...

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post #11 of 126
What does "portabe" mean?
post #12 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by CU10 View Post

Plastic dents less and scratch-resistant IMHO.

Dents and patina I'd happily live with over crumbling, cracking plastic.
post #13 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Regardless of how the pieces fell into place, AppleInsider believes the bigger story is how Apple, once discounted for its role as a niche player in the market for premium computing products, is rapidly adjusting to having been broadsided by the sudden economic downturn.

Rapidly? You are kidding right? With the exception of the $99 iPhone 3G all of their products are still in the premium market. The economy has been in the tank for a year and this refresh won't see the light of day until sometime in 2010. And you call that rapid?

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Do you use MagicJack?

The default settings will automatically charge your credit card each year for service renewal. You will not be notified or warned in anyway. You can turn auto renewal off.

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post #14 of 126
I bought one of the first Intel white MacBooks, and I still use it, and it still works and looks great. Had a few problems with it along the way, but, AppleCare took care of them.

I really hope this means Apple isn't going to abandon the white computers, because I really loved the white iMacs, which you can't get anymore (unless it's used).
post #15 of 126
Good call. I have a fancy brand new MBP for work and that aluminum looks real pretty until it gets the inevitable dents and scratches. I take good care of it and always carry it in it's case... but it's still managed to get one bad scratch and one REALLY nasty dent. Aluminum is soft as butter. I'm not sure I would even buy one for personal use. I would probably buy plastic. Much more rugged and thus better suited for the student or road warrior. I'm glad they're keeping it.
post #16 of 126
Apple is replacing all cracked plamrests free-of-charge, even if it is out of warranty.
post #17 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

if my desktop died today and i needed to buy a PC for my wife to sync her iphone to, i'd probably go for a dell. i can get a dell laptop that's about the size of a MBP with LED backlit screen, backlit keyboard, etc for like $700.

if there was a macbook with a 15" screen for $700 i'd look at it. don't see the point in paying for Garage Band if i'll never use it.

...your "free" time to tinker with the junk for the years to come;-)
post #18 of 126
p.s. If I did ever buy an aluminum for myself... I would look into a hard sided case or an EXTREMELY well padded case.
post #19 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Apple is replacing all cracked plamrests free-of-charge, even if it is out of warranty.

Really? where are you hearing this? cuase they made me pay for my 4th once it was out of warranty.
post #20 of 126
why not make the tablet the new macbook?
post #21 of 126
I'll reiterate, the new Tablet will replace MacBook.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #22 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peruchito View Post

why not make the tablet the new macbook?

My thoughts too. This "redesigned" MacBook may be redesigned into the Tablet.
post #23 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peruchito View Post

why not make the tablet the new macbook?

Maybe the tablet is the new iBook.

I must admit though that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If the tablet is the "answer" to competing in the netbook space, then these new MacBooks will be in that same space competing with the tablet for attention.

Sounds like nervousness and a somewhat less-than-certain strategy from Apple this time around. It's not like Apple to cover their bets like this IMO.

Either that tablet *is* so revolutionary that Apple is worried it will be a fail, or it's so dull that it really *is* just a big iPod (and thus just a fail of a different kind).
post #24 of 126
Keep it. By making a tablet out of the MacBook and leaving only the MacBook Pro line you're going to end up losing a lot of people. That's going to hurt Apple.

They need to keep this product and possibly drop the price.
post #25 of 126
Waiting for a complete iMac redesign overhaul. Please dear god, if there is a god.
post #26 of 126
good, Apple need a £499 macbook and a £699 imac in England, that would push them into a completely new market, so many people want one but just cannot justify twice as much money for something that they're not sure they will like
post #27 of 126
Hmmm, aluminium Macs with dents and scratches!?
I don't know about MBP's, but my PowerBook after a year-long deployment to Iraq, three drops on a hardwood floor, two trips across the states, endless trips to and from work, and now entering its second Iraqi deployment has nary a dent nor a scratch on it.
From all that abuse only the top and new battery are slightly askew.
post #28 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'll reiterate, the new Tablet will replace MacBook.

But how will the children learn to type?
post #29 of 126
If Apple drop the optical drive and the new MacBook is available before a 4GB MacBook Air, then I'll buy one. In other words, I'll buy the first Apple notebook with 4GB and no optical drive.
Mac user since August 1983.
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Mac user since August 1983.
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post #30 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

But how will the children learn to type?

does someone pay you to troll around on this forum?
post #31 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

But how will the children learn to type?

lke thy do now wit ther thums at 60 wds a min.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #32 of 126
MBA could be cheaper than the MB. Just let it stagnate and keep lowering the price.

The fixed costs have already been paid off for that engineering feat, and the unit cost should be lower than MB. So, a lower price will bring more demand, and no further investment is required.

Also, MBA customers might be more likely to buy additional accessories.
post #33 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peruchito View Post

why not make the tablet the new macbook?

Exactly. The low-end MacBook (aka the new "iBook", aka the iTablet) will simply incorporate more multi-touch aspects into the product (the screen, for example) and there might even be a new size that fits nicely into the subnotebook space. It makes little sense to attempt to carve out a new niche product on it's own, when simply extending the existing lines makes the marketing so much easier.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #34 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

lke thy do now wit ther thums at 60 wds a min.

Now that's too funny!
But seriously I doubt that the "educational" laptop would ever loose its keyboard?
post #35 of 126
I didn't realize that connecting Macs to one another in the least painful manner was considered a high end legacy feature. Fact is Firewire, still is more feature packed then USB and the road map for development looks a lot better as well. That is why long time Mac users went nuts when Apple temporarily abandoned it. People will notice that Apple made a point of announcing it was back at it's last keynote.

USB and Ethernet do not let users manage various computers as well as Firewire. Firewire will not be sacrificed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

while high-end legacy features like FireWire connectivity are likely to be sacrificed in the tradeoff.
post #36 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Apple is replacing all cracked plamrests free-of-charge, even if it is out of warranty.

I don't know why they never redesigned those damn plastic facings. It's the ribs at the top edge of the screen fascia that concentrates all the forces on two spots on the palm rest (when you shut the screen) which eventually crack and break off. All Apple needs to do is widen the surface area of those ribs several fold and the forces get less concentrated. Actually, the plastic surrounding the ribs also crack. I have both palm rest and screen border replaced last year and they look like they're going to need replacing again soon. And this computer is babied-- the lid is always shut gently and nothing gets stacked on it.
post #37 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

Rapidly? You are kidding right? With the exception of the $99 iPhone 3G all of their products are still in the premium market. The economy has been in the tank for a year and this refresh won't see the light of day until sometime in 2010. And you call that rapid?

It's only been two quarters since Apple has started to any kind of impact from the recession... and it hasn't even hit them as hard as the rest of the industry. So to see this kind of move this quickly, would be considered "rapid". Apple probably wants to move quick before it does start hurting its bottom-line.
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #38 of 126
Something has to be done abut the lack of quality in the MacBook case. Cracks and discoloration are the rule rather than the exception.

I believe the tablet and low end MacBook target different uses so both products can thrive.

Although I understand the $99 - 999 graphic, I view the mandatory voice/data plan as part of the purchase price so I see the iPhone 3G as a $1499 device rather than a $99 one. To me the low end offering is the $229 iPod touch.
post #39 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

don't see the point in paying for Garage Band if i'll never use it.

If they stopped pre-loading Garageband on your computer, it's not like you'd see the price drop. If you don't like it, then just consider that HD space you can reclaim and delete it.
post #40 of 126
Apple should redesign the White MacBook to look more like a plastic MacBook air
drop the screen size to 10-12"
drop the optical drive
drop the price to $799

(one model available in five colors)
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