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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    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!!!
  • Reply 2 of 43
    I'm surprised they even asked about a built-in optical drive not once, but twice.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    mgkwhomgkwho Posts: 167member
    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
  • Reply 4 of 43
    The results of this survey are obvious: 'All of the above.' For the same price.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    Then they would have to make a Macbook Air for GSM and another for CDMA?
  • Reply 6 of 43
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 43
    juandljuandl Posts: 228member
    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
  • Reply 10 of 43
    nvm...
  • Reply 11 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    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?
  • Reply 13 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 43
    rarerare Posts: 25member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 43
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    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/
  • Reply 17 of 43
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    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?
  • Reply 19 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.