Apple to begin production of Thunderbolt MacBook Airs next month

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air line as the company looks to maintain the impressive sales momentum generated by the ultra-thin notebooks and limit the market opportunity for would-be competitors hoping to wedge their foot in the door.



Sales of the aggressively-priced 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs got off to a hot start following their introduction last October, with Apple assembling roughly 1 million units within their first quarter of availability. During those three months, consumers reportedly chose the new MacBook Airs at a one-to-two ratio to the company's more established MacBook Pro offerings, making for one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.



However, shipments of the Airs declined 51 percent sequentially during the first calendar quarter of 2011 -- including a 40 percent month-over-month decline in February -- as Apple introduced new MacBook Pros that caught consumers' eyes, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has proven sources within the Cupertino-based company's Far Eastern supply chain.



Kuo tells AppleInsider that his latest round of checks with suppliers and system builders in the region reveals that MacBook Air shipments are set to rebound during the current calendar quarter, fueled by an upgrade to Intel's latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors, integrated Intel graphics, and the expected adoption of the new Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology that made its debut on MacBook Pros earlier this year.



Specifically, he said the new models will "go to mass production in late May," which corroborates an earlier report that cited reliable sources as saying Apple would be ready to publicly announce and ship to consumers MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors during following month of June.







The upgrade should help boost Apple's overall notebook shipments between 5 percent to 10 percent sequentially for the current quarter, according to Kuo, reversing a 5 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, which he notes was still less than the 11% average decline for notebook shipments from the top 6 OEMs worldwide during the same period.



In moving to Intel's 32-nanometer (nm) Sandy Bridge architecture, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips for the chipmakers' new line (below) of low-voltage and ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory.







Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.



In a report shared with AppleInsider last week, Kuo also noted that production of Apple's legacy white MacBook model has been on a steady decline since the start of the year, with shipments falling 10% and 50% in February and March, respectively. As such, it's likely that Apple will similarly need to make some form of announcement regarding the future of this offering sometime in the coming months.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 214
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights
  • Reply 2 of 214
    kubekube Posts: 40member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    laptops were originally niche products. Most people bought them for the uses you ascribe to the macbook airs. The current macbook airs are spectacular student machines. My daughter has one in college. It does everything she needs, in class and out. In her dorm room she connects it to a large apple display, keyboard and mouse and it works flawlessly. In class its much better than a macbook and its lighter and smaller. To the degree that its a niche product now, that niche will grow.



    I think you are correct about the original macbook airs. but the current ones are a transition, as their initial volume shows.
  • Reply 3 of 214
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    I want a 15" MacBook Air. The CPU and storage options now available on the 13" MacBook Air are acceptable.
  • Reply 4 of 214
    tardistardis Posts: 88member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    One million units in three months is not a "niche product". The MBA is a "hit" with buyers. Naturally, with such an important purchase, informed buyers will hold off when they hear about the Thunderbolt technology. When it comes, they will buy .........
  • Reply 5 of 214
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.



    The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.



    However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.
  • Reply 6 of 214
    with thunderbolt and the same CPU selection. Looking for one of those for HTPC.
  • Reply 7 of 214
    reganregan Posts: 474member
    Sweeeet. Just the news i was waiting to hear. Sandy bridge and thunderbolt were a given, but I'd love to see some suprises too.



    Mainly i'd like to see larger flash drives. 256gb is the largest in the current Macbook airs. If they could offer a 500gb version that would be SWEET. Lol.



    But seeing as the current BTO on the macbook pros for a 500gb SSD is about $1,200....um...it may be wishful thinking on my part.



    Still, a larger HD would make the macbook Air pretty much PERFECT in my eyes.



    Two more months....tic toc tic toc
  • Reply 8 of 214
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    What is needed is a lighter and smaller MacBook Air: 400 to 600 g and 7 inches. The Mac in your pocket. Always.
  • Reply 9 of 214
    The option of putting in up to 8gb of RAM would be nice. A 15inch Macbook Air would be a wonderful addition to the Apple lineup.
  • Reply 10 of 214
    rkprorkpro Posts: 28member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    The first gen MBA was a niche product.



    But since the redesign and price drop, the bloody things are everywhere. They are nearly as popular as 13" MBPs on my university campus.
  • Reply 11 of 214
    unicronunicron Posts: 154member
    Nice to hear Thunderbolt is making its way to the sexy MB Air. Wonder what the processing overhead is on Thunderbolt as the Airs have modest computing power (compared to other Mac products)



    Fill up that solid state drive in seconds!
  • Reply 12 of 214
    iguesssoiguessso Posts: 132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    I'm a developer and I spend most of my time in XCode, Outlook, Word, and Excel. Plus lots of web based activity. My 13" MacBook Air is docked to a large monitor, keyboard, and trackpad. Is that a niche?



    None of these apps tax the CPU/GPU in the slightest. In fact with the SSD this is one of the real-world fastest machines I've ever had the pleasure of using.



    I also travel a lot and the MBA can't be beat for that.



    I have the external DVD drive too, which I think I've used about 3 times.



    When I see people lugging around the behemoth MBPs I just smile. If you're a gamer or you're rendering video in the airport it's great I guess.
  • Reply 13 of 214
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air...



    Please, Apple. Please, please, please bring back the keyboard backlighting when the Air is refreshed. PLEASE!
  • Reply 14 of 214
    mr omr o Posts: 1,040member
    1. Please, bring back the backlit keyboard!



    2. And add an external battery indicator. Like the Macbook Pro.
  • Reply 15 of 214
    mr omr o Posts: 1,040member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mr O View Post


    2. And add an external battery indicator. Like the Macbook Pro.



    It looks like there's no space for that on the side of the computer
  • Reply 16 of 214
    hippohippo Posts: 7member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post


    Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.



    The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.



    However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.



    you can upgrade the Airs to 4GB RAM for only $100 when buying online or at Apple stores. also since they use superfast flash memory instead of hard drives, the amount of RAM is less important as the flash memory handles anything needed more than the 4GB. Mac OS X is more efficient than Windows so less RAM is needed on OS X to get equivalent performance. many Air owners have 2GB RAM and find that sufficient, again because of the flash memory.
  • Reply 17 of 214
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage



    the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights



    It was a niche product. The thunderbolt one will be my only computer replacing both an iMac and a Macbook.
  • Reply 18 of 214
    xaoxao Posts: 29member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lafe View Post


    Please, Apple. Please, please, please bring back the keyboard backlighting when the Air is refreshed. PLEASE!



    I AGREE!!!!!!



    That is the ONLY thing that is holding off me purchasing one. I'm still holding on to my old 15" MBP until the Air gets backlit keyboards, then I'm all over the new laptop!
  • Reply 19 of 214
    markbmarkb Posts: 153member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iGuessSo View Post




    When I see people lugging around the behemoth MBPs I just smile. If you're a gamer or you're rendering video in the airport it's great I guess.



    I am a photographer...you can smile all you want but Aperture really uses all four cores and needs 8 Gb ram when you are working with RAW files. I would love the MBA but would have to be quad core with 8 GB ram and 500+ Gb drive....not likely to happen so i will just have to "lug" the MBP
  • Reply 20 of 214
    Earlier this week on April 20th, their was a post on the AppleInsider that the Apple store employees couldn't take vacation on May 20-22 because it is around the 10th anniversary of the retail stores opening.



    What a move it would be to launch the new Macbook Air's, their back to school offer, and some type of a 10th anniversary sale at this time. Food for thought...it would really drive people into the stores.
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