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Apple customer survey sparks hope for brawnier MacBook Airs with built-in 3G

post #1 of 44
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Apple, a company notorious for relying on its own in-house research rather than the feedback of its customers, began reaching out to select MacBook Air owners this week in a new survey that could help define future versions of the diminutive notebook, posing questions on 3G, data syncing, I/O usage, and the desire for models with more capable computing power.

The wide-ranging survey touches on a number of issues, including the use of USB ports and external disc drives, Web-based file storage and syncing, and use of certain function keys on the keyboard. It also includes a number of queries related to wireless 3G data connectivity, suggesting Apple could be exploring integrated cellular radios in future notebooks.

Apple gauging the popularity and usage of certain functions on its new MacBook Air could also be used by the company to determine which it can ax -- or may need to add -- to satisfy consumers.

Official Apple customer surveys on products are not unheard of, though they are rare. The last survey AppleInsider can recall was conducted back in February 2009 to help shape the future of the Apple TV, and that was related to the company's self-proclaimed "hobby" that was a work-in-progress.

In addition to future MacBook Air models, the new survey could offer a glimpse into Apple's plans for the MacBook Pro line of notebooks. When the new MacBook Air was released last October, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the thin-and-light computer is "the first of a new generation of notebooks."



Key questions in the survey include:
What would you change to make your MacBook Air your primary Mac?
Data syncing: Inquiries about what services are used (MobileMe, DropBox, Windows Live Mesh), and where files, data and photos are stored.
Likely gauging interest and use for its newly launched Mac App Store, the survey asks how users load applications onto their MacBook Air, including from App Store, with the use of an External SuperDrive, or directly from the developer website.

Port usage: Questions about how often both USB ports on the MacBook Air are in use, and how often the Mini DisplayPort is accessed.
Keyboard usage: Those surveyed are asked to share how frequently they use certain function keys for features like volume control, brightness and media.

External accessories: What hardware and devices are plugged into the MacBook Air for use, and how frequently are they used?
Perhaps most telling are a number of questions in the survey related to 3G data use and connectivity. The MacBook Air comes with integrated Wi-Fi, but does not have a built-in 3G radio.



Apple's survey asks users whether they have connected their MacBook Air to a 3G network, how often they do so, where they connect to 3G, what type of device they use to connect to a 3G network (MiFi, USB device, or tethering with a cell phone).



Users were also asked if they own an iPad in addition to the new MacBook Air. The survey asks if they bought their iPad before they purchased the MacBook Air, why they own both devices, and which they prefer to use for certain activities.



Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its successor have already begun to surface. Last week, it was said that Apple allegedly plans to upgrade its line of thin-and-light notebooks to Intel's latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors this June. No claims were made about 3G connectivity.



Rumors of a 3G-capable Mac have persisted for years, but the company does not yet sell a notebook with an integrated cellular data radio. Apple even sought to hire a 3G expert for its Mac team in 2009, fueling those rumors that the functionality would be added to a future MacBook.
post #2 of 44
Producer / Video Editor here- I WOULD LOVE a more powerful Air with more STORAGE!!!

I know it's coming but it'll never be soon enough!!!
post #3 of 44
I'm surprised they even asked about a built-in optical drive not once, but twice.
post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its predecessor have already begun to surface.

I think you mean its "successor."

-=|Mgkwho
post #5 of 44
The results of this survey are obvious: 'All of the above.' For the same price.
post #6 of 44
Then they would have to make a Macbook Air for GSM and another for CDMA?
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

The results of this survey are obvious: 'All of the above.' For the same price.

It's a self fulfilling prophecy for Apple to "prove" whatever they want. That people bought more of the lower priced models must mean that nobody wants a more fully featured model. I'm sure price had nothing to do with low Xserve sales. The intended audience of the Xserve must think the Mac Mini is a better choice.
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Then they would have to make a Macbook Air for GSM and another for CDMA?

Locked to AT&T of course.
post #9 of 44
I hope AI had the sense to mention backlit keyboard when they took the survey. Losing that was a damn shame and would put me off purchasing the product. As an ex-Air owner I couldn't be without that. Surely Apple didn't have to skimp on that. There's frugal and then there's plain mean. Removing that was mean.
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 #10 of 44
More & more Apple will be doing this or depending on other surveys to give us everything we want.

That shows two things. There are a lot of people that are purchasing Apple products. But there will be an even bigger crowd getting on board.

Also, their 'Guiding Light', Steve Jobs has a lot of things he wants to get done before he finds himself slowing down because of his sicknesses. I am sure that he used to pay a lot of attention to everything that was being said and also commented on about his treasured projects.
That will be sorely missed.

Either way. It justs shows again how serious they (and especially Jobs) consider how we embrace all things Apple.


Thanks S. Jobs
post #11 of 44
nvm...
post #12 of 44
I have a PowerBook 15" and was given a 13" iBook. I could not deal with the reduced screen size and Apple was gracious enough to let me trade it in towards a MacBook Pro 15".

I would love to get a Mac Air especially for the durability of the solid state hard drive and the thinner profile; but I would need the larger screen size.

As an aside, does Facebook now work for Macs? I downloaded the beta back at Christmas to chat with my niece who had just got an iPod touch; but the Facebook software would not function on my MacBook Pro and I haven't checked on it since.
post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post

Huh??

It's saying that Apple usually doesn't do surveys, but this week they began sending out surveys to MacBook Air owners. What's the problem?
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HahaHaha321 View Post

It's saying that Apple usually doesn't do surveys, but this week they began sending out surveys to MacBook Air owners. What's the problem?

I guess that's what an 12 hour work day will do. NVM.
post #15 of 44
As an iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air owner... I have to say Apple has gotten to be awful for syncing across multiple devices! My iMac is my primary machine now because of ergonomics, but I travel with the Air.

Out of the country with my unlocked iPhone, it is a godsend. $20 for unlimited data with a local SIM that I can swap between devices, and tether with at no additional cost! Sure beats paying $5-10 per day for bad wifi. An extra SIM doesn't help matters any.

Re-invent Ethernet though, as using time machine to sync data between machines is just stupid. I can do a rsync script to get things done, but wifi complicates matters significantly. A flat Ethernet connector would be nice.
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I hope AI had the sense to mention backlit keyboard when they took the survey.

Agreed. I was almost sold on the Air until I saw that the keyboard wasn't backlit.

An Ethernet port would be nice as well; its absence isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but its presence just might be a dealmaker.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Sukalewski View Post

...

I would love to get a Mac Air especially for the durability of the solid state hard drive and the thinner profile; but I would need the larger screen size.

As an aside, does Facebook now work for Macs?...

I just replaced a 13" MacBook aluminum with an 11" Air - the portability is just fantastic. I have a Mac Pro as my desktop machine (development + 3D rendering, 30" monitor, so any laptop is already a bit constricting...), so I definitely don't claim I'd use the Air as my only machine, but so far I'm loving it.

Fortunately for me, I figured in my case I wasn't losing resolution and was just gaining a better form factor. The SSD is great, and it just doesn't feel like dragging a laptop around anymore, and I'm finding it's more comfortable to type on being a bit less deep - the front edge doesn't hit my wrist/watch strap like on the deeper cases.

You mean FaceTime, I think (did a double-take there for a sec...)? Here's a direct link to the Beta... http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/
post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Sukalewski View Post

I have a PowerBook 15" and was given a 13" iBook. I could not deal with the reduced screen size and Apple was gracious enough to let me trade it in towards a MacBook Pro 15".

I would love to get a Mac Air especially for the durability of the solid state hard drive and the thinner profile; but I would need the larger screen size.

I also want a 15" MacBook Air and am encouraged to see that a larger screen was part of a survey question.
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post #19 of 44
Rumors of a 3G-capable Mac have persisted for years, but the company does not yet sell a notebook with an integrated cellular data radio. Apple even sought to hire a 3G expert for its Mac team in 2009, fueling those rumors that the functionality would be added to a future MacBook.

I would seriously hope that at this point in time, if Apple were really considering this, they would really be considering 4G and beyond. What happened to forward thinking?
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post #20 of 44
Since dumping my old iPhone for a small, cheap flip phone and going to the iPod Touch, I can report WiFi accessibility is completely unacceptable. Even in 2011 WiFi is hard to come-by. I think 3G and soon 4G / LTE is the way to go, period. Due to the nature of cell phones and almost complete population coverage, the cell phone companies will pretty much have the corner on the mobile internet market in a few years.
post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post

Agreed. I was almost sold on the Air until I saw that the keyboard wasn't backlit.

I bought an Air anyway and i'm extremely impressed by it. But i think it would take a lighted keyboard (and more storage) before I'd keep it as my only computer. It's frustrating to be so close to that possibility... (Other World Computing is now selling a 360GB SSD for the Airs, even the 11" ones; it costs as much as the computer did, but I figure the total cost with that upgrade would be about what i paid for my Titanium Powerbook five or so years ago, so if it were my only computer, that would be an acceptable price). But I'd want that keyboard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post

An Ethernet port would be nice as well; its absence isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but its presence just might be a dealmaker.

My MBA was wirelessly downloading at 1/10th the speed of my MBP sitting beside it. It took updating the firmware on my router to fix that, which required connecting a computer to the router via ethernet. I downloaded the firmware update to my MBA but then realized I had to use the MBP, because the Air lacks ethernet. If the Air were my only computer, I'd not be able to work with my router (yeah, without buying and carrying around one more extra cable adapter).

One last thought: businesses often use surveys as sales tools, too. The questions about where you'd use 3G could be an effort to remind people how 3G would enhance use of their computer--on trains and in cars, for example, in preparation for releasing that feature. It might be worth thinking of each of the questions in that light.
post #22 of 44
Do you guys notice that both of the two surveys were conducted during Steve's two medical leaves of absence? What does it mean? Were they instructed by Apple's executive team to make up for Steve's absence??
post #23 of 44
I believe the late 2011 lineup will include a 15" Air.
I believe all 2011 Macs will have a small Air-style SSD for the operating system and applications.
The 13 and 15" MacBook Pros will trade the optical drive for more power and a bigger battery. I think the optical drive will be retained in the 2011 17" model, but be gone in 2012.
I think the desktops will retain their optical drives until the end of 2012 because there's no pressing need to use that space for something else.

As a corporate Mac user I would like to see an Ethernet port on the Air, but I keep a lot of local data so a MBPro with an SSD boot drive and traditional HD for storage makes the most sense for me.
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post

Agreed. I was almost sold on the Air until I saw that the keyboard wasn't backlit.

An Ethernet port would be nice as well; its absence isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but its presence just might be a dealmaker.

Just my wish list-

Agreed, lighted or illuminated keyboard. I wish they could copy thinkpads keyboards shape/feel.
Bring back the 4:3 screen size, I wouldn't mind black bars on movies, but I do mind loss of vertical real estate for web browsing and work space on today's scrunched display sizes. Need USB 3.0 or highest speed FireWire, or eseta etc for very fast data transfer. Perhaps a screen that swivels or eqiuv to go into a ipad/slate mode... But that's just me. What else... Built in gps chip would be nice option, guess that would be part of a cell chip.

It's interesting... I can understand Apples need for a survey- How much do ya through into an air, but doesn't become a pro? Nice problem to have. In the end, IMO unless there is overwhelming support for a feature(eg light keyboard... One can wish) I doubt they add it.
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post #25 of 44
I've been debating this purchase ever since the 11" air came out. Which would I buy? As of 2 months ago, it would have been the iPad, but considering I just took a job that requires me to be in China 5 months of the year, every other month, I'll to the Air. But, I could easily see owning both. Because when you're on a trip, you don't want a whole laptop...too much invested in it to get it lost or broken. The iPad is a perfect device where if you lost/broke it on a trip, yeah that would be costly to replace, but not nearly as bad as a laptop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Users were also asked if they own an iPad in addition to the new MacBook Air. The survey asks if they bought their iPad before they purchased the MacBook Air, why they own both devices, and which they prefer to use for certain activities.

They had better freakin' not do it this year!!! I need to buy a laptop by April and I really want it to be the MBA, but if they come out with a model like this just 3 months later, I'll be really REALLY pissed. Not that anyone at Apple is going to hear me, but thought I'd just vent for a minute.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its successor have already begun to surface. Last week, it was said that Apple allegedly plans to upgrade its line of thin-and-light notebooks to Intel's latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors this June. No claims were made about 3G connectivity.

regardless of the motive behind this survey, I'd really be interested in knowing the results of the survey.
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

Just my wish list-

Agreed, lighted or illuminated keyboard. I wish they could copy thinkpads keyboards shape/feel.
Bring back the 4:3 screen size, I wouldn't mind black bars on movies, but I do mind loss of vertical real estate for web browsing and work space on today's scrunched display sizes. Need USB 3.0 or highest speed FireWire, or eseta etc for very fast data transfer. Perhaps a screen that swivels or eqiuv to go into a ipad/slate mode... But that's just me. What else... Built in gps chip would be nice option, guess that would be part of a cell chip.

It's interesting... I can understand Apples need for a survey- How much do ya through into an air, but doesn't become a pro? Nice problem to have. In the end, IMO unless there is overwhelming support for a feature(eg light keyboard... One can wish) I doubt they add it.

I agree about the 4:3 screen for the 11", the 13" screen is a good proportion.

For all those wanting a back-lit keyboard, I ask this question...doesn't the light coming off the screen provide enough light to see the keys? I mean seriously, The screen is a huge light source less than an inch from the keyboard.

I'd rather have better tactile sense of the home keys over back-lit any day. My biggest issue with Mac laptops has always been the flat keys and the lack of curvature and the very subtle home key markers. Then again, most laptops have these flat keys, so I can't really complain too much. I'm a Desktop user primarily and spoiled by my real keyboard and mouse.

I still think they need to combine the iPad and Air into a device where you can detach the screen and it functions as an iPad. Plug in the Monitor and it's a MBAir. The only issue I see with that is weight and computer guts distribution. It would have 2 Batteries, 2 system boards, etc...but, let's let Apple figure that one out
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Sukalewski View Post

I have a PowerBook 15" and was given a 13" iBook. I could not deal with the reduced screen size and Apple was gracious enough to let me trade it in towards a MacBook Pro 15".

I would love to get a Mac Air especially for the durability of the solid state hard drive and the thinner profile; but I would need the larger screen size.

As an aside, does Facebook now work for Macs? I downloaded the beta back at Christmas to chat with my niece who had just got an iPod touch; but the Facebook software would not function on my MacBook Pro and I haven't checked on it since.

There has never been an issue with facebook and macs. Just browse to the site and use as normal. No need to download anything.
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HahaHaha321 View Post

It's saying that Apple usually doesn't do surveys, but this week they began sending out surveys to MacBook Air owners. What's the problem?

Didn't Steve say "So you can't go out and ask people, you know, what the next big [thing.] There's a great quote by Henry Ford, right? He said, 'If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me "A faster horse." ' "

Why are Apple now doing surveys? Aren't people just gonna say they need a faster Air...
post #29 of 44
I wouldn't be suprised if the next generation MBP adopts the same form factor as the new MBA. Differentiate by focussing the 11" & 13" MBA on people who mainly use it a portable computer against the 15" & 17" MBP for people who mainly use it as a desktop replacement.
post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

I wouldn't be suprised if the next generation MBP adopts the same form factor as the new MBA. Differentiate by focussing the 11" & 13" MBA on people who mainly use it a portable computer against the 15" & 17" MBP for people who mainly use it as a desktop replacement.

The only reason Apple doesn't make the Air as that desktop replacement is they currently can't. They have limitations outside their control. Eventually the Air will be the MacBook Pro and the MacBook, but in all sizes. The larger machines will always have more ports, that comes with the territory.

Wedge-shaped laptops with no DVD slot is the future, for Apple. Simple as that. In fact, expect Apple portable DVD-slotted computers all but gone this year. They may keep the 17" around unchanged, to get people used to the idea the
DVD slot is going to be gone from all their portables, soon enough. Known Apple they wont even keep the 17" around. I think they should completely kill the 17" altogether. And they should also kill the 13" MacBook also.

Actually, if they do stop producing the 17" and 13" MacBook Pros - which I believe they should - and direct their energy to the 15" version, they may keep the DVD slot in it to further differentiate it from the MacBook Air. At least for a while.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #31 of 44
"Brawnier"? It is to laugh at this choice of words. Will they feed it raw meat and start an exercise and weight-lifting schedule.

My wife's rueful chuckle - when she filled it out - was when they asked what laptop you were upgrading from, they didn't even include her iBook as an option.
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstep View Post

I just replaced a 13" MacBook aluminum with an 11" Air - the portability is just fantastic. I have a Mac Pro as my desktop machine (development + 3D rendering, 30" monitor, so any laptop is already a bit constricting...), so I definitely don't claim I'd use the Air as my only machine, but so far I'm loving it.

Fortunately for me, I figured in my case I wasn't losing resolution and was just gaining a better form factor. The SSD is great, and it just doesn't feel like dragging a laptop around anymore, and I'm finding it's more comfortable to type on being a bit less deep - the front edge doesn't hit my wrist/watch strap like on the deeper cases.

You mean FaceTime, I think (did a double-take there for a sec...)? Here's a direct link to the Beta... http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/

You are correct - I meant Facetime (not Facebook). Odd that Facetime is not in the new App Store.
post #33 of 44
carbon fiber (cf) fits the bill plus it has more conductivity.

more expensive now, but volume production should make it more competitive.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Sukalewski View Post

You are correct - I meant Facetime (not Facebook). Odd that Facetime is not in the new App Store.


I'd think that facetime will just ship with the OS (and/or show up in software update) once it's out of beta.
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post #35 of 44
Once 10.7 ships FaceTime will likely show up in the App Store.
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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 #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post

More & more Apple will be doing this or depending on other surveys to give us everything we want.

That shows two things. There are a lot of people that are purchasing Apple products. But there will be an even bigger crowd getting on board.

Also, their 'Guiding Light', Steve Jobs has a lot of things he wants to get done before he finds himself slowing down because of his sicknesses. I am sure that he used to pay a lot of attention to everything that was being said and also commented on about his treasured projects.
That will be sorely missed.

Either way. It justs shows again how serious they (and especially Jobs) consider how we embrace all things Apple.


Thanks S. Jobs

I disagree. From the questions in the survey, it looks to me like Apple is looking for an excuse to remove ports and functionality. Like if most users say they never use both USB ports at the same time, Apple would remove one. Etc.
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by allmypeople View Post

Producer / Video Editor here- I WOULD LOVE a more powerful Air with more STORAGE!!!

I know it's coming but it'll never be soon enough!!!

That sounds like a MBP to me. I don't see how you can efficiently use video editing software on anything less than a 17" screen. It's a little thicker because of the DVD drive, but so what?

And SSDs are still very expensive compared to physical drives. So I don't understand this push by posters to go with SSD. Everyone would have to give up tons of storage space, something especially needed for video editing.
post #38 of 44
I wish Apple would conduct a survey for Mac Mini "Server" and Mac Pro "Server" users. They would quickly find out that in order to improve each, they would end up with the Xserve form factor and feature set.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

It's a self fulfilling prophecy for Apple to "prove" whatever they want. That people bought more of the lower priced models must mean that nobody wants a more fully featured model. I'm sure price had nothing to do with low Xserve sales. The intended audience of the Xserve must think the Mac Mini is a better choice.
post #39 of 44
The ultimate mobile Mac: 7-inch (600 g) MacBook Air.
post #40 of 44
There needs to be a function for filtering which download processes run when you are on 3G.

I want to be able to say that automatic software updates across all my apps are suspended while on 3G. Ditto scheduled podcast updates, and the rest.

Plus a warning when anything big is happening or is happening in the background.
3G can be expensive and the carriers love it when you accidentally go over your contracted volume, so they can bill you into oblivion.

The Mac should be 3G contract aware, so it can say "This will cost you another $10. Do you want to continue online?"

And the ability to say: download this once I'm back on wifi/LAN.

You get the picture...

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