Apple gearing up for early-2015 MacBook Air refresh, begins pruning inventory & halting shipments

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 2015
With the launch of new MacBook Air models featuring Intel's latest-generation Broadwell processors just around the corner, Apple has begun taking steps to prepare its international distribution partners for the updates, and to sell off remaining inventory of existing Air models, AppleInsider has learned.

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Channel partners who sell Apple's Mac family of products in Europe began receiving clues regarding the changes last week, ahead of stateside partners who began receiving their instructions just this week, according to people familiar with the process.

In particular, Apple has halted restock shipments of certain MacBook Air configurations and given the go-ahead to resellers to reduce the prices they're charging for many of the exist 11- and 13-inch modes -- a move designed to minimize channel inventory (and almost always a telltale sign that its time for store managers make room in their stock room and customers to warm their credit cards.)

Further corroborating this evidence is the fact that within the last 24 hours, MacBook Air models from several Apple Authorized Resellers listed in AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide (relevant segment below) have begun to reflect additional $50-$100 price cuts on top of their usual reductions. Historically, combined price cuts of this magnitude only materialize two times a year: during the holiday shopping season and when something fresher lay just weeks away.

Still, Apple's distribution and channel partners are often kept in the dark as to when, exactly, new models are set to arrive, or what changes to the products might be made. But one rumor this week suggested new MacBook Air models featuring Intel's Broadwell processors will quietly debut on Feb. 24, just two weeks from today.

With only days to go before that rumored launch, 11 different MacBook Air configurations are now uncharacteristically listed in our Price Guides at discounts of $100 or more. Additionally, MacMall now offers 5 different 11- and 13-inch configurations for under $1000 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), while B&H -- which only offered 4 models under $1000 on Monday -- now offers 7 at that price point (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) , in addition to a 13-inch model that was marked down by as much as $170.00.

Feb. 24 is a particularly noteworthy date for Apple fans, as it's the day that Steve Jobs was born in 1955. Apple has used that date to introduce new products before, having launched updated MacBook Pros on Feb. 24, 2011.

Intel debuted a host of new ultra-low-voltage mobile processors based on its power-sipping Broadwell architecture last month. Specifically, it's been rumored that the company's new ULV Core i5 and Core i7 chips will be featured in the refreshed MacBook Airs.

Also looming is a new, completely redesigned 12-inch MacBook Air with a high-resolution Retina display. That notebook is expected to launch this quarter, which runs through the end of March, though there has been no indication that it will go on sale as soon as this month.

MacBook Air Price Guide

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    What's the usual time frame between "pruning" and a launch?
  • Reply 2 of 23
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    For a company on the verge of Dumping Intel -- as AI repeatedly claims Apple is -- I'm surprised theres no mention of it in this article. ;)
  • Reply 3 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,354member
    solipsismy wrote: »
    What's the usual time frame between "pruning" and a launch?
    2-4 weeks.

    That would be about right for the 24th if Apple started advising resellers last week. I suspect the new models will be very compelling with Broadwell in them, it may make moving the old models harder than usual. We should see far better GPU performance and a decent bump in CPU clock rate.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,354member
    mj web wrote: »
    For a company on the verge of Dumping Intel -- as AI repeatedly claims Apple is -- I'm surprised theres no mention of it in this article. ;)

    AI has never made such claims. They have explored the potential but I've yet to see them claim they know what Apple is doing. Beyond that, I've heard about ARM based Macs in Apples labs for the last three years from channels that AI has never referenced. It is almost a certainty that Apple has experimented with ARM based Macs.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    Beyond that, I've heard about ARM based Macs in Apples labs for the last three years from channels that AI has never referenced. It is almost a certainty that Apple has experimented with ARM based Macs.



    Of course. I'd imagine they started back with the A4. I really doubt that Apple only did experiments with Intel and PPC back in the day and stopped when they switched to Intel. I'm sure they have some AMD testers as well, even if that's only for negotiation leverage with Intel.

     

    It's also a bit of a fallacy, I admit, to assume they'd just slap an A8 in there. It could be a whole new ARM design and naming. Too bad they already used M.

  • Reply 6 of 23
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,257member
    If they're coming out with a new 12", isn't that going to be replace the so-called 11", which is actually 11.6"? Why would they need both? And if it's going to be a 12", I personally don't feel they need the 13" - there's just not that much difference. Anyone who wants smaller than 12" is probably using an iPad and anyone who wants something bigger is probably using a MacBook Pro.

    The current 13.3" does have higher resolution than the 11.6, 1440x900 vs. 1368x768, but 1440x900 might make type look too small on the 12".

    And if they raise the price, they might as well get rid of it completely and steer users towards the lower-end 13" Mac Book Pro Retina. The original prices for the current 11.6" were $899 (w/128 GB sold state drive) and $1099 (w/256GB). The original prices for the current 13.3" were $999 (w/128 GB) and $1199 (w/256GB). The 13" MBP starts at $1299 (w/128GB).
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post



    If they're coming out with a new 12", isn't that going to be replace the so-called 11", which is actually 11.6"? Why would they need both? And if it's going to be a 12", I personally don't feel they need the 13" - there's just not that much difference. Anyone who wants smaller than 12" is probably using an iPad and anyone who wants something bigger is probably using a MacBook Pro.



    The current 13.3" does have higher resolution than the 11.6, 1440x900 vs. 1368x768, but 1440x900 might make type look too small on the 12".



    And if they raise the price, they might as well get rid of it completely and steer users towards the lower-end 13" Mac Book Pro Retina. The original prices for the current 11.6" were $899 (w/128 GB sold state drive) and $1099 (w/256GB). The original prices for the current 13.3" were $999 (w/128 GB) and $1199 (w/256GB). The 13" MBP starts at $1299 (w/128GB).



    The 12" is a Retina device. The 11" and 13" models could stay on in the same place as the Ivy Bridge OldBookPro that's $1099.

  • Reply 8 of 23
    zoetmb wrote: »
    If they're coming out with a new 12", isn't that going to be replace the so-called 11", which is actually 11.6"? Why would they need both? And if it's going to be a 12", I personally don't feel they need the 13" - there's just not that much difference. Anyone who wants smaller than 12" is probably using an iPad and anyone who wants something bigger is probably using a MacBook Pro.

    The current 13.3" does have higher resolution than the 11.6, 1440x900 vs. 1368x768, but 1440x900 might make type look too small on the 12".

    And if they raise the price, they might as well get rid of it completely and steer users towards the lower-end 13" Mac Book Pro Retina. The original prices for the current 11.6" were $899 (w/128 GB sold state drive) and $1099 (w/256GB). The original prices for the current 13.3" were $999 (w/128 GB) and $1199 (w/256GB). The 13" MBP starts at $1299 (w/128GB).

    I think the reasonable assumption is that the 11 and 13" MBAs will fold into one 12.x", which became evident when the 13" MBPs removed their HDD and ODD.

    I would also assume they will drop their 1x pixel density down to match that of the MBPs, not the current MBAs, but of course have them be Retina with 2x elements.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Here's to hoping for a reasonably priced 1TB drive.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    [QUOTE]It's also a bit of a fallacy, I admit, to assume they'd just slap an A8 in there. It could be a whole new ARM design and naming. Too bad they already used M.[/QUOTE]is there any reason at all that apple couldn't design and have made a streamlined x64 CPU? One that gets a leg up on Intel by only including transistors needed for OSX and whatever drivers apple thought necessary? Thus eliminating a tonne of legacy and getting speed advantage that way?
  • Reply 11 of 23
    entropys wrote: »
    is there any reason at all that apple couldn't design and have made a streamlined x64 CPU? One that gets a leg up on Intel by only including transistors needed for OSX and whatever drivers apple thought necessary? Thus eliminating a tonne of legacy and getting speed advantage that way?

    I don't see why they couldn't go AMD's route, but I would assume we'd hear some chatter about it in terms of hires if that was going to happen. Plus, the number of A-series chips they have built for a single design is significantly smaller than the number of Macs on the market that I wouldn't think it's feasible for Apple unless we're talking about an ARM-based chip for a lower-end Mac. And that's not even considering the number of chip designs needed for the entire Mac lineup or that some Macs, like the Mac Pro, wouldn't likely begin to warrant the effort in making a comparable chip.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    How do the screens compare with Dell? I heard the Dells were really good. Not all of course
  • Reply 13 of 23
    Ok, I have an idea about the whole 12" MBAr thing, and it is still a pretty rough idea at this point, but I think it has merit:

    iPad Pro possibility:

    What if the rumors of the iPad Pro are sort-of accurate? What if the MacBook Pro 12" is also kind-of accurate? Now, what if Microsoft is also kind-of accurate? I theorize that maybe the accurate answer is actually a combination of all three. I present the iPad Pro, the hybrid computer.

    You take your typical iPad Air, and look at what it has. It has an A8X processor that handles both typical CPU tasks, as well as GPU tasks. That is part one. Part two is the addition of the Metal architecture, which allows for very fast graphics capabilities. The third part is the beauty of Continuity; which allows the Mac and the iOS devices to be in constant communication.

    Now, I know I am building up to a lot of this, so here it comes. The base of the hybrid is the keyboard attachment. It also has a SSD (64GB, 128GB, or 256GB), a Intel Core i5 chip (running around 2.2GHz to 2.5GHz), and a VERY LARGE BATTERY. When the top is connected to the base, the graphics are powered by the iPad's A8X chip using the Metal APIs. Wireless capabilities will be powered by the iPad's WiFi chip. While connected, it is NOT running iOS, it is running Yosemite. Essentially, the iPad part of this is nothing more than a display with graphics drivers.

    Then, when you disconnect the iPad from the base, it becomes a standard iPad (with the exception of the 12" screen). It has either a 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB size SSD in it, running iOS 8. It also has a battery as well, which will help power the Retina Display on it.

    Here is the beauty of it, it keeps the qualities of both types of devices, as well as any kind of document storage can be handled by iCloud. This completes the whole hybrid experience, while keeping the best of both worlds.

    Please understand, this is a very rough concept, and I would like some serious constructive criticism of it, not just "Well, it isn't going to work, and you suck".
  • Reply 14 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Entropys View Post





    is there any reason at all that apple couldn't design and have made a streamlined x64 CPU? One that gets a leg up on Intel by only including transistors needed for OSX and whatever drivers apple thought necessary? Thus eliminating a tonne of legacy and getting speed advantage that way?



    Yes.  It's called patents.  Intel owns them.  AMD has a license because IBM forced Intel to give it to them.  Cyrix has it for historical reasons.  No one else can make x86 CPUs.  AMD64 CPUs has additional AMD patents on top of it.

     

    But this is all moot anyway, the underlying CPU has been a RISC CPU for ages, ever since the Pentium Pro days.  They just hide it with a layer of microcode on top of it.

     

    So while it is technically feasible to run a x86 layer/microcode on top of an ARM CPU, it will never happen because of patents, copyrights and all that fun stuff.

  • Reply 15 of 23
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,584member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 65C816 View Post

     



    Yes.  It's called patents.  Intel owns them.  AMD has a license because IBM forced Intel to give it to them.  Cyrix has it for historical reasons.  No one else can make x86 CPUs.  AMD64 CPUs has additional AMD patents on top of it.

     

    But this is all moot anyway, the underlying CPU has been a RISC CPU for ages, ever since the Pentium Pro days.  They just hide it with a layer of microcode on top of it.

     

    So while it is technically feasible to run a x86 layer/microcode on top of an ARM CPU, it will never happen because of patents, copyrights and all that fun stuff.


     

    Don't these patents run out eventually. Shouldn't that happen soon? I think its 20 years from filing. So, the first ones should be out right now I think.

  • Reply 16 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,354member
    entropys wrote: »
    is there any reason at all that apple couldn't design and have made a streamlined x64 CPU?
    The ARM cores are already streamlined. They are very much RISC machine with extremely low power architectures. The challenge for Apple would be to get more performance out of each core without giving up that power advantage.
    One that gets a leg up on Intel by only including transistors needed for OSX and whatever drivers apple thought necessary?
    Apple has actually researched and even patented CPU optimizations supposedly specific to their needs. IOS currently leverages the 64 bit nature of Apple latest chips in a number of ways that use the ISA currently designated for these ARM chips. You don't always need hardware customization to leverage a chip in an operating system.

    Thus eliminating a tonne of legacy and getting speed advantage that way?

    The tone of legacy is the best reason to go ARM. For whatever reason Intel has yet to cut the cord with the past. As such there is much in the way of electronics in an Intel processor that does nothing for today's modern apps.

    As it is Apple still has plenty of room to grab more performance, especially for notebooks and even light desktop machines. For example there is plenty of room to increase clock speed, increase cache sizes, memory bandwidth, improve the cores execution speed per clock and a whole bunch of other things. People seem to forget that these processors are only running at 1.6 GHz and have rather slow memory interfaces. Memory interfaces impact the performance of every APU design made these days and is the reason Intel installs a high speed RAM device in some of its APUs.

    So looking at it this way, Apple has much they can do to increase chip performance, some of it relatively light weight engineering some more involved. My point is that Apple could easily produce a chip suitable for a laptop that would give them respectable performance. They aren't far from Intel I3 series chips right now.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,354member
    65c816 wrote: »

    Yes.  It's called patents.  Intel owns them.  AMD has a license because IBM forced Intel to give it to them.  Cyrix has it for historical reasons.  No one else can make x86 CPUs.  AMD64 CPUs has additional AMD patents on top of it.
    It wasn't just IBM, there has been a lot of governmental pressure on Intel. Beyond that he needs to understand that there is a considerable amount of capris licensing between AMD and Intel. AMD actually invented much of the structure Inel now leverages in its 64 bit chips. So Apple would likely have to license both Intels and AMDs technology.
    But this is all moot anyway, the underlying CPU has been a RISC CPU for ages, ever since the Pentium Pro days.  They just hide it with a layer of microcode on top of it.
    Apple could add support for emulation software in their hardware. There is literally tons of things that could be done at wouldn't be impacted by Intels patent portfolio. The problem is it really isn't worth it. There simply isn't enough people hung up on backwards compatibility with i86 these days. There is certainly a small hard core group of individuals that need to run Windows but it is hardly a big concern for Apple when it comes to a low cost notebook, especially when Apple has and will have i86 solutions.
    So while it is technically feasible to run a x86 layer/microcode on top of an ARM CPU, it will never happen because of patents, copyrights and all that fun stuff.
    You couldn't use the patented technology but it is pretty clear that emulation isn't an issue. Hardware to support emulation wouldn't be an issue either. The problem is people get hung up on this non sense of supporting i86 when the entire industry has changed dramatically in the last decade. If you count cell phones and tablets most hardware being sold these days is ARM based.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,354member
    Ok, I have an idea about the whole 12" MBAr thing, and it is still a pretty rough idea at this point, but I think it has merit:

    iPad Pro possibility:

    What if the rumors of the iPad Pro are sort-of accurate? What if the MacBook Pro 12" is also kind-of accurate? Now, what if Microsoft is also kind-of accurate? I theorize that maybe the accurate answer is actually a combination of all three. I present the iPad Pro, the hybrid computer.
    I totally suspect that Apple has more IOS devices in the works. What they will be is at this time unknown.
    You take your typical iPad Air, and look at what it has. It has an A8X processor that handles both typical CPU tasks, as well as GPU tasks. That is part one. Part two is the addition of the Metal architecture, which allows for very fast graphics capabilities. The third part is the beauty of Continuity; which allows the Mac and the iOS devices to be in constant communication.
    Yep and people need to remember that A8X is designed and implemented for a specific platform.
    Now, I know I am building up to a lot of this, so here it comes. The base of the hybrid is the keyboard attachment. It also has a SSD (64GB, 128GB, or 256GB), a Intel Core i5 chip (running around 2.2GHz to 2.5GHz), and a VERY LARGE BATTERY. When the top is connected to the base, the graphics are powered by the iPad's A8X chip using the Metal APIs. Wireless capabilities will be powered by the iPad's WiFi chip. While connected, it is NOT running iOS, it is running Yosemite. Essentially, the iPad part of this is nothing more than a display with graphics drivers.
    That woul be dumb beyond compare. Why? Because you effectively duplicate too much hardware. Beyond that what do you mean by very large battery? Large batteries aren't the answer because consumers have voted in favor of devices that are slim and light.
    Then, when you disconnect the iPad from the base, it becomes a standard iPad (with the exception of the 12" screen). It has either a 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB size SSD in it, running iOS 8. It also has a battery as well, which will help power the Retina Display on it.
    An ARM based chip can run Mac OS just as effectively as an i86 in this sort of Application. Apple would be far better off focusing on other uses for all of that space. Besides why would you want you storage split up like that, makes no sense at all. I'd rather see 512 GB, even 1 TB, in an IPad/laptop than to have it spread around in separate devices like this.
    Here is the beauty of it, it keeps the qualities of both types of devices, as well as any kind of document storage can be handled by iCloud. This completes the whole hybrid experience, while keeping the best of both worlds.
    iCloud sucks royally,it is the biggest piece of crap Apple has ever delivered to its users. I'm more convinced than ever that local storage is very important.
    Please understand, this is a very rough concept, and I would like some serious constructive criticism of it, not just "Well, it isn't going to work, and you suck</sarcastic voice>".

    Well, it isn't going to work and you Suck! Sorry couldn't resist. I can't imagine why anybody would want what you describe. Nobody needs i86 to run Mac OS for one. Further splitting up your storage as you describe is a terrible idea.
  • Reply 19 of 23

    I wonder what percentage of Mac users need Windows emulation. Less than 5%?

     

    With Apple dumping pro products and going for the mass market (movie and photo software), would it be any surprise if Apple went to primarily iOS laptops? Maybe there is some emulation work to run OS X apps, but the future is simpler computers for the mass market.

     

    It all started with the Mac Plus, more or less. Steve wanted a computer to be as easy to use as a toaster.

     

    iOS has grown on a lot of people. They may use a Mac, too. Or Windows. Or no computer.

     

    iOS will be the next major platform. For the masses. Then there will be the 20% (OR LESS) who need a "real" computer with OS X. I'd be more than happy with an iOS laptop, as long as it was like ChromeOS where you have a file system. ChromeBook - simple and you don't have to worry about updates and all that. It just works.

     

    iOS laptops (and desktops?) will be the future for most people. From iOS phone to tablet to laptops.

  • Reply 20 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    I totally suspect that Apple has more IOS devices in the works. What they will be is at this time unknown.

    Yep and people need to remember that A8X is designed and implemented for a specific platform.

     

    Part of the A8X chip is the PowerVR graphics chip.

     

    That woul be dumb beyond compare. Why? Because you effectively duplicate too much hardware. Beyond that what do you mean by very large battery? Large batteries aren't the answer because consumers have voted in favor of devices that are slim and light.

     

    All I meant is you would effectively have more space for more battery. The only "duplication" of hardware would be the hard drive and the i5/i7 chip on the base. The point of this is to have both Mac and iOS in the same platform, without it actually being the same. OS X ran when the iPad is connected to the keyboard base, iOS ran when it is being used as a tablet.

     

    An ARM based chip can run Mac OS just as effectively as an i86 in this sort of Application. Apple would be far better off focusing on other uses for all of that space. Besides why would you want you storage split up like that, makes no sense at all. I'd rather see 512 GB, even 1 TB, in an IPad/laptop than to have it spread around in separate devices like this.

    iCloud sucks royally,it is the biggest piece of crap Apple has ever delivered to its users. I'm more convinced than ever that local storage is very important.

     

    I don't know how you figure iCloud sucks royally, I have never had a problem with it. The whole point of iCloud is to allow all of your devices to be able to have access the files, no matter what. And again, the whole storage "division" is because the base is OS X, and the tablet is iOS, each with their own systems.

     

    Well, it isn't going to work and you Suck! Sorry couldn't resist. I can't imagine why anybody would want what you describe. Nobody needs i86 to run Mac OS for one. Further splitting up your storage as you describe is a terrible idea.

     

    For starters, I think that this idea is a very long shot. Powerball level kind of long shot. I'm just saying that a lot of the moves that Apple has been making as of recent can point to this direction. As for why people would want this, it is because people want something that simplifies their life, and if they are on the go, they don't need to bring their iPad and their laptop anymore, it is now just one device... kinda.

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