Why is the MacBook Air?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
That's right-- Why?



When it was announced, there was a load of grumbling. It doesn't have any ports, there's no optical drive, I need to buy more dongles, it's slow; the list went on and on. It seemed that what people really wanted was a direct 12'' PowerBook replacement: a 12'' MBP with everything the PowerBook had.



Well, you know what happened instead.



That really bugged me for a while, because I couldn't help thinking about how Apple made such a seemly stupid mistake.



And then it hit me like a paper cut. (ha) It's because a 12'' MBP really wouldn't work for Apple.





Think about this from the standpoint of someone who really doesn't understand computers.



It is amazingly easy to find which Apple product would fit you. Unlike say, a Sony VAIO XPFE13OEP12345LOL, Apple products all have friendly names and are very distinct from each other.



I'll sum up Apple's product line here:

The Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro all have very specific niches: cheap, all in one, lots of power.



It's the same with the iPods: there's the cheap Shuffle, tiny Nano, expansive Classic, and Wi-Fi Touch.





Each model has a specific purpose. Anyone could walk into an Apple store and find what they need. Compare that to the convoluted PC market!



What about their laptops? The MacBook is their base model. It's cheaper than the Pro and is less fast and has a smaller screen. It's easy to make the choice between the two.



What if they did introduce a 12'' MBP? Where would it fit? It would probably cost more than the MacBook, but it would have a smaller screen. Would your mom understand that? It really wouldn't make sense!







The Air is a totally different category from the other MacBooks. It's the world's thinnest laptop; anyone can understand that! Who cares if it doesn't have this or that-- there is absolutely no confusion. If it's for you, fine. If not, too bad.







The other reason behind the Air is because they're Apple. They are the makers of the iPhone. Everybody on the planet knows about the iPhone. Now, they're also the makers of a laptop that's the world's thinnest. The average person can understand this and will be amazed.



Nobody besides the people already on these forums would care if Apple released a 12'' MBP.



I have had kids come up to me in school and ask me about the Air. They don't care that the Air lacks FireWire, because they don't know what the hell FireWire is in the first place. They-- and every other average person, every other potential Apple customer-- have no idea that Sony or Toshiba also make tiny laptops. They are part of 90% of the Windows users; they are adults afraid of computers, they are teenagers that use MySpace. And to them, there would be nothing special about a 12'' MBP.





And that is why the MacBook Air.





But what about the 12'' MBP whiners? Well, I think that it's pretty clear that the next MacBooks/ MBPs will be much smaller than the current ones.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    Finally somebody gets it! I agree totally!



    ...and it is far easier to decide which mac to buy compared to the PC market. As a experienced consumer, I got a headache trying to decide which Dell laptop would fit my mom's use best (her first computer). It was just too confusing. So I got her a refurbished Macbook instead!
  • Reply 2 of 45
    dentondenton Posts: 725member
    Meh.



    If Apple had wanted to build the MBA around a 11 - 12" screen, it would have had the same impact, and in addition it would also fit on the seat-back tray in coach better than the current MBA. It would still have been thin and people would still have understood what the product was for.
  • Reply 3 of 45
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grumbler View Post


    What if they did introduce a 12'' MBP? Where would it fit? It would probably cost more than the MacBook, but it would have a smaller screen. Would your mom understand that? It really wouldn't make sense!



    Well it would have a silver enclosure, a good graphics card, firewire 800, backlit keyboard, 2GB Ram and so on.



    To me that justifies more money to a layman far more than thinness.



    No matter what you believe about sales, a 12"/13" Macbook Pro would have sold far in excess of the Macbook Air if it was the same price. One big reason is simply that it is not a niche product.
  • Reply 4 of 45
    Went to to the Apple Store in Fukuoka, Japan, yesterday and they said the Air had sold out worldwide. This thing is selling, despite what the nay-sayers believe. My Air, which I pre-ordered the day after the release, has still not arrived because they simply cannot produce enough of them to meet demand yet.



    Only Apple knows how many units they hope to sell and I bet they will make that mark fairly easily.



    The Air is still ranked #1 on the Mac sales chart at Apple Stores in many countries around the globe.



    Having now played with an Air, I have a few things to say.



    I was one who wanted a tiny computer about the size of a DVD tall case. THough I still want this (maybe a Touch Mega?), I was won over by the Air and ordered one. Having given things a lot of thought, the size is perfect, especially for modern apps that need a little real estate.



    I'll start off by saying that I owned a 12" PB (and an iBook before that) and currently own a MacBook and a 15" MBP.



    The Air is amazing. Period. The size is perfect; it feels smaller than my 12" PB. The keyboard is fantastic. Simply: wow. I visited the store late in the day after the machines had been on for some time and they were barely warm; a MBP would be pretty hot if left on for that long.



    Firewire is all but dead. Get over it. (I work with video and audio so I know what FW can do; it simply isn't widely used and is fading away slowly).



    Go see the Air. You will love it.
  • Reply 5 of 45
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Yes, you get it!!!



    And so will everyone walking into an Apple Store.



    Your point about a customer comparing a more expensive 12-inch MacBook Pro to a less expensive 13-inch MacBook is exactly the point I have been making about the xMac. If it costs more and has less, it will not sell.



    And you are exactly right about the FireWire - they don't even know what it is. Just like the xMac people think that customers want a "swappable video card", the fact is that the customers don't even know that there IS a video card, or what it is, or what it does. All they know is that the iMac is cheaper and comes with a screen, so that is the one they are going to buy. The xMac would sit on the shelf.
  • Reply 6 of 45
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Denton View Post


    Meh.



    If Apple had wanted to build the MBA around a 11 - 12" screen, it would have had the same impact, and in addition it would also fit on the seat-back tray in coach better than the current MBA. It would still have been thin and people would still have understood what the product was for.



    The point is not to make the mistake that the other subnotebooks made - tiny screen and sub-standard size keyboard. A pain in the ass.



    Apple's approach is to get the light weight by thinness, not by making a teensy screen and tiny keyboard. The standard 13.3" screen was a wise move, and sets the Air apart from the others.
  • Reply 7 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lundy View Post


    Yes, you get it!!!



    And so will everyone walking into an Apple Store.



    Your point about a customer comparing a more expensive 12-inch MacBook Pro to a less expensive 13-inch MacBook is exactly the point I have been making about the xMac. If it costs more and has less, it will not sell.



    And you are exactly right about the FireWire - they don't even know what it is. Just like the xMac people think that customers want a "swappable video card", the fact is that the customers don't even know that there IS a video card, or what it is, or what it does. All they know is that the iMac is cheaper and comes with a screen, so that is the one they are going to buy. The xMac would sit on the shelf.



    but the screen is not good for photo work and the mac pro is $2700
  • Reply 8 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    No matter what you believe about sales, a 12"/13" Macbook Pro would have sold far in excess of the Macbook Air if it was the same price. One big reason is simply that it is not a niche product.



    Sorry, I think I missed the part where you showed the proof of that statement. Just ignorance on my part, of course. Could you please give your data that shows that a "12"/13" Macbook Pro would have sold far in excess of the Macbook Air if it was the same price?" Just some numbers to back it up so I'll understand, as I'm slow at this sort of thing without numbers. You know... proof. Data. Facts.
  • Reply 9 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe_the_dragon View Post


    but the screen is not good for photo work and the mac pro is $2700



    You mean the screen that is brighter, more efficient, and has better color reproduction than that of the MacBook?
  • Reply 10 of 45
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lundy View Post


    Your point about a customer comparing a more expensive 12-inch MacBook Pro to a less expensive 13-inch MacBook is exactly the point I have been making about the xMac. If it costs more and has less, it will not sell.



    So since the xMac has more for less, it should be fine. Simply compare a £1500 Mac Pro with a £1500 iMac and all you get with the iMac is the form factor and display. The Mac Pro has at least twice the processing power, an 8800GT and good upgradability. The xMac was simply a Mac Pro that uses consumer desktop parts instead of Xeon server components - hence cheap Ram, cheap CPUs etc. I am on the verge of acknowledging the lowest Mac Pro as the xMac despite the price being a bit high.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lundy View Post


    Just like the xMac people think that customers want a "swappable video card", the fact is that the customers don't even know that there IS a video card, or what it is, or what it does. All they know is that the iMac is cheaper and comes with a screen, so that is the one they are going to buy. The xMac would sit on the shelf.



    Graphics card swapping was a minor issue, the ability to choose one as BTO was though and that is not possible with the iMac. The main point for me personally is to be able to use my own display. I earn a living from my computer and sending my important data away along with my faulty screen is not an option. Now I could have a faulty motherboard or graphics chip that requires the machine to be sent away but display technology is far less reliable.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mzaslove


    Sorry, I think I missed the part where you showed the proof of that statement. Just ignorance on my part, of course. Could you please give your data that shows that a "12"/13" Macbook Pro would have sold far in excess of the Macbook Air if it was the same price?" Just some numbers to back it up so I'll understand, as I'm slow at this sort of thing without numbers. You know... proof. Data. Facts.



    The Macbook Air is low powered and has less connectivity for general use so is not appealing to people who need it as a main computer. It is for people who need a portable computer to complement one they already have. This means people who can afford both a main computer and a fairly expensive portable. A small number of people.



    The Macbook Pro is very powerful, with good connectivity and at the MBA price, the 12"/13" would be the cheapest in the lineup. It is a general purpose, lightweight powerhouse at great value. The market for that is much bigger.



    I don't expect to convince people with logic because that rarely works but those are some reasons why it is logical that a smaller MBP would sell more.



    Of course, I like to separate cultures when I talk about product success. I have no doubt that in Asia the MBA can be a big hit and that is a big market. But it is also a big market for silly game shows, dog meat and Sushi, none of which have any significance to me or the culture that I live in. As I've said before, my interests are not in the success of Apple as a business. If they don't deliver the products that I need and the people who live in my culture need then my opinion is biased against their decisions. It has to be or I would be a little masochistic.
  • Reply 11 of 45
    I agree with some of what is said in the original post, except that "anyone" can find what they need in an Apple store. There is no product in the Apple line-up for a power user who needs true portability.



    For many portable power users, cost is not a serious obstacle, other than some prefer not to buy an underpowered machine only to find out a few months later via a new product release that Apple did not forget them after all.



    I may grudgingly buy a MBA, but will first wait to see what updates hit the MBP line.
  • Reply 12 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    I don't expect to convince people with logic because that rarely works but those are some reasons why it is logical that a smaller MBP would sell more.



    Of course, I like to separate cultures when I talk about product success. I have no doubt that in Asia the MBA can be a big hit and that is a big market. But it is also a big market for silly game shows, dog meat and Sushi, none of which have any significance to me or the culture that I live in. As I've said before, my interests are not in the success of Apple as a business. If they don't deliver the products that I need and the people who live in my culture need then my opinion is biased against their decisions. It has to be or I would be a little masochistic.



    The problem here is that what you call "logic" is just your opinion. It's not backed up by any statistics. Many people didn't think it was "logical" for the iPod to be such a success. Quantum mechanics certainly isn't "logical" when first inferred (even ol' Albie Einstein had some trouble with that one). And certainly it isn't "logical" for the Earth to revolve around the sun. It's "obvious" -- especially in many Western "cultures" that the sun rises and sets, so it certainly revolves around the Earth.



    And your "separate cultures" thoughts. How amazingly bigoted. First, you lump the largest continent with a complexity of different cultures into "silly game shows, dog meat and Sushi." How condescending is that? Me, I have no problem with silly game shows never ate dog meat because it's illegal where I am (though I'd try it), and certainly LOVE sushi. Does that make me Asian? It certainly makes me someone who has bought two MBA's as gifts.



    As for -- and I paraphrase here -- Apple being all about you. That's the only thought here that's intellectually honest. You only care about what you want, which is fine. I couldn't agree with you more there.
  • Reply 13 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The Macbook Air is low powered and has less connectivity for general use so is not appealing to people who need it as a main computer. It is for people who need a portable computer to complement one they already have. This means people who can afford both a main computer and a fairly expensive portable. A small number of people.



    I'm getting a little tired of seeing the argument that the Air can't be used as a person's main machine. I have quite comfortably used a Sony Vaio TX650P as my main computer for 4 years. This is the machine that was the predecessor to the current TZ line. It only has a 1.2 GHz Pentium 4M, and a 60 GB hard drive. The only thing that is normally plugged into this thing is power... (And I don't use the optical drive more than once a quarter.)



    My biggest problem with my Sony machine has been the 11.1 inch screen. It is small enough that I cannot use it for more than a few hours at a time. I am greatly looking forward to the upgrade in screen real estate and processing power that I will get when the MBA arrives.



    That, plus not needing to administer Ubuntu anymore will be a very welcome change. The ability to virtualize a bootcamp partition will also be key, as I will need to use WinXP every once in a while for work as well. I may even create an Ubuntu install on an external drive just to play with every once in a while, but it will no longer need to be my main OS.



    (Before anyone gets bent out of shape about this, I am an electrical engineer who also does programming, but I want to program for my projects, not for my OS... In case one wonders, I am an embedded systems designer.)



    -Matt
  • Reply 14 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Karelia View Post


    You mean the screen that is brighter, more efficient, and has better color reproduction than that of the MacBook?



    The iMac comes glossy screen only, and glossys are notorious for high contrast and oversaturated colors, which ususally means color accuracy is worse with glossys.



    Also, I still don't understand the hostility of Mac users towards the xMac. It's not just the issue of a swappable graphics card. It's the ability to customize your desktop machine. It provides increased avenues for upgrading your machine without having to buy a whole freaking new machine when one component breaks (the reason I will never own an AIO) and the benefit of having everything you want inside a nice clean case instead of USB/FireWire daisychain hell with all your external accessories (the concept of clean aesthetics should be something every Mac user should be familiar with).



    If Apple were to bring out an xMac, similarly spec'd machines could probably be sold at price points lower than iMac, use desktop components (opposed to notebook hardware like the mini and iMac or server hardware like the Pro) which cost less and perform better, give Apple even bigger margins than they have now with iMac or mini, and expand Apple's market reach to a huge segment of the population who are looking for a desktop tower Mac and would never buy a mini or iMac under any circumstance (regardless of whether they actually would need or use the tower configuration. But again, not an alien concept to Apple - they're used to upselling their customers plenty of features they don't want or need.)
  • Reply 15 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RexTraverse View Post


    The iMac comes glossy screen only, and glossys are notorious for high contrast and oversaturated colors, which ususally means color accuracy is worse with glossys.



    Nice generalization. Have you checked the MBA to be certain that it has those failings?



    (I haven't either, but using "usually" in an argument about color reproduction doesn't sit very well.)



    I have even seen a post in another thread about a user who didn't need to calibrate their MBA screen. The context of the post was that they had needed to do so on all their other displays, so the MBA might even have good color reproduction out of the box...



    I won't even go into your opinions on the xMac, as I am not personally familiar with what it is. I do know that one of the main ways that Apple keeps testing costs down is to control configurations tightly, though. A mix and match system like the standard PC market would make the task of debugging/maintaining OSX much more difficult.



    -Matt
  • Reply 16 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grumbler View Post


    That's right-- Why?





    I'll sum up Apple's product line here:

    The Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro all have very specific niches: cheap, all in one, lots of power.

    .





    Now while I will admit they have come down in price (Apple), let me ask you this...the first two macbooks ($1099-1499) had a bench mark of 156% and 186% when Leopard was installed.

    Now, its barely 76%. Why is that? Why is it that apple refuses to put in a $35 dollar part (cheap but great compared to on-board crap) graphic card? Why, why why?



    Please, don't tell me Apple is afraid the PRO users will jump the gun and buy the cheapo machines, and if they did, so what, they hardly make up the pro user base. Today is all those that have no idea on what a computer is and show up like drones in the store asking if 160GB is memory.



    And why, (no offense) are many long time apple users not really technical at all? I've seen some pretty silly questions asked whereas your typical gamer would be like an EE Software Engineer in comparison.



    Still, I think Apple would do a great service if they offered a gaming machine (oh apple , be afraid, yes, maybe motion too) a decent computer with graphics. But don't tell me its powerful.



    Many non apple machines can play games and do very well for under $1000.00, but yes, your still stuck with windows. But before many get their panties in a bunch, please know, Bill Gates bailed out Apple, MSFT invented the search and Apple introduced it first (spotlight), widgets and dock (YZ DOCK) were not inventions of Apple, yet some still think MSFT ripped of Apple.



    Its stunning the level of illiteracy sometimes, either from a marketing point of view (no graphics and sill on-board) to thinking MSFT stole Apples ideas.

  • Reply 17 of 45
    MacBook Air makes great sense at $799. Less computer, both literally and figuratively, should equal less money. The iPod Nano does not cost more than the iPod Classic just because it's smaller, so the MacBook Air should not cost more than the MacBook. At $799, it would make complete sense.
  • Reply 18 of 45
    buddhabuddha Posts: 386member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post


    MacBook Air makes great sense at $799. Less computer, both literally and figuratively, should equal less money. The iPod Nano does not cost more than the iPod Classic just because it's smaller, so the MacBook Air should not cost more than the MacBook. At $799, it would make complete sense.



    It's priced somewhat reasonably when you compare it with other ultra-portables. Also, you're comparing 4GB to 80GB - that's a huge difference. There's not a huge difference with the MBA.
  • Reply 19 of 45
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:

    Also, I still don't understand the hostility of Mac users towards the xMac.



    I have no hostility. I would be happy if they brought out one.



    My point has always been that it won't sell. People will buy the iMac instead. If you think Apple hasn't researched this, I think you are mistaken.

    Quote:

    It's not just the issue of a swappable graphics card. It's the ability to customize your desktop machine. It provides increased avenues for upgrading your machine without having to buy a whole freaking new machine when one component breaks (the reason I will never own an AIO) and the benefit of having everything you want inside a nice clean case instead of USB/FireWire daisychain hell with all your external accessories (the concept of clean aesthetics should be something every Mac user should be familiar with).



    If that were really true, the iMac wouldn't be selling. It is. I am familiar with your philosophy - it is held by many techies and gamers. It isn't necessarily important to the consumer market. My conclusion from Apple's lack of the classic desktop/monitor combo is that they have asked people if upgradeability is one of their highest concerns and the answer is always "no" when compared with footprint, an included monitor, and price.

    Quote:

    If Apple were to bring out an xMac, similarly spec'd machines could probably be sold at price points lower than iMac,



    Not after you add a display. The consumer will walk past it to the iMac.

    Quote:

    use desktop components (opposed to notebook hardware like the mini and iMac or server hardware like the Pro) which cost less and perform better,



    Again, consumers looking for a computer don't care about these things. They are techie things. They might care how big the hard drive is, but not whether it is a "laptop" or not.



    And we do not know whether, FOR APPLE, the "notebook hardware" is cheaper or not. Apple buys so many millions of "laptop" hardware components compared to "desktop" components that it may in fact be cheaper for Apple.

    Quote:

    give Apple even bigger margins than they have now with iMac or mini, and expand Apple's market reach to a huge segment of the population who are looking for a desktop tower Mac and would never buy a mini or iMac under any circumstance



    Don't you think this supposed "huge" segment would have been identified by Apple?
  • Reply 20 of 45
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Microsoft did steal Apple's ideas. They still are doing it with everything they release.



    Microsoft did not bail out Apple. That $150 million was in payment to settle patent disputes.



    There are several books detailing everything, but the typical PC gamer/"computer geek", even though he knows absolutely nothing about theoretical computer science, compiler design, database theory, microprocessor design, the mathematics of computer graphics, the history of computer graphics, or anything else except what Tomshardware says about the latest "card", hasn't read them.
Sign In or Register to comment.