All these years later, the Macbook Air is still Apple's most popular laptop

Adelphos33

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 13, 2012
959
560
I was at a genius bar recently, and 75% of the laptops being used by customers were Macbook Airs. Even the laptops used by the geniuses to do diagnostics were Macbook Airs.

During travel, at coffee shops, etc, Macbook Airs continue to dominate.

Why hasn't apple been able to make a real successor to the Macbook Air when it comes to customer reception, value to the customer, ease of use, etc?
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
52,191
35,647
The Far Horizon
Personally, I would argue that the Air is popular because:

1) It is exceptionally reliable, (I'm typing this on one, and it is easily the best computer I have had in my life).

2) It is very portable - Apple (and tech types) sometimes forget that women buy computers, too. I'm middle aged and female, and I want something portable, powerful and reliable - the MBA fulfils that need.

3) Already mentioned: Great battery life. I can sit in a coffee shop - or, borrowed office - all day and do a decent day's work on a charge.

4) Also already mentioned: Affordable. Although my MBA - a maxed out 11" (512 GB SD, 8 GB RAM, Core i7) was not an entry level model.

5) Still marries well with the wider ecosystem, and the 11" has two USB ports (the 13" has three). Technology may have introduced us to the next generation, but many of us still need - and use - USB ports.

6) No need for a million dongles.

7) I like the magsafe.

8) My computer is more than powerful enough to do anything and everything I ask of it.

9) A retina screen would be nice, but it is not a necessity; given a choice between battery life and retina screen, my professional needs demand battery.
 

MacRazySwe

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2007
919
624
Because Apple have chosen not to listen to their customer base, thinking they know best what their customers want. Like they always do. (Trashcan Mac Pro comes to mind, so does the iPhone without headphone-jack, iMac without SuperDrive et.c.).

Pretty much like Henry Ford did when he built a car, rather than faster horse carriages. However, unlike Henry Ford, Apple are very much out of touch with their customer base.

Everything we asked for was an updated MacBook Air with better displays. I think Apple has been wrong many times lately. When it comes to MacBooks, I think people aren’t really ready for the wireless world just yet.

Hell, I work at a company which was founded as one of the worlds first cloud services in 1998. Before the cloud even existed, really. I’d like to think we are on the forefront when it comes to technology - and still, most people swear by their old MacBook Air.

I don’t necessarily think Apple are wrong with their vision, but just way, way too ahead of their time.
 
Last edited:

KingslayerG5

Suspended
Oct 16, 2017
1,254
1,291
Cheap
Reliable
Longest battery life
USB-A
MagSafe
SD slot
Glowing Apple logo

Kinda a no-brainer. Best product Apple ever made next to the iPhone SE which also is fast, cheap, reliable, maintains headphone jack, and still has a timeless design.

I hope more people realize the more expensive product doesn't mean it's better. MBA is more powerful than 12" MB and cheaper. The SE is more powerful than the 6 and cheaper.

Satisfaction and reliability scores on the MBA is high. And anybody I see commenting on the SE are extremely happy with it. The irony that the budget-friendly MBA and SE are the most reliable w/ long battery life.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,040
335
.. London ..
I'm one of the many who work in IT and I love my 2013 MBA. I do quite want to update it but I can't see any benefit to getting the 2017 MBA. I wouldn't mind a MBP, but I hate the new keyboard and I don't want to pay for a useless TouchBar. So I'm saving my money and hanging onto my perfectly serviceable 5 year old aluminium laptop that still looks brand new and happens to beat most laptops half its age.

My MBA wishlist:

- Move to m.2 SSD, for the love of god please. It'll save Apple pots of money, and let you provide bigger SSDs for cheaper, and also make MBAs more upgradeable for those of us who like upgrading them. You're already *almost* using the m.2 SSD standard anyway. (It wasn't yet finalised when the MBA first came out).
- Better screen like everyone says here.
- Keep everything else the same.

- If you really want something new and shiny, maybe bring over the fingerprint scanner from the iPhone. I love it, especially for password management. But not the TouchBar.
 

ZapNZs

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
2,310
1,155
It's still a solid pick in 2017.



They want the 12" Macbook to be the successor, considering that huge jump in price-point. The Air still sells because customers are a little smarter than that.
They definitely do, which I find nearly comical given how different the retina MacBook and MacBook Air is.

They are not interchangeable IMO - both are good computers and one can and often will do a much better job at meeting someone's needs/preferences than the other. Give the MBA a screen upgrade (it doesn't have to be as significant an upgrade as with the MBP), upgrade the TB2-MDP to TB3-USB-C, and it's good to serve for years to come.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,040
335
.. London ..
They are not interchangeable IMO - both are good computers and one can and often will do a much better job at meeting someone's needs/preferences than the other.
Agree.
upgrade the TB2-MDP to TB3-USB-C, and it's good to serve for years to come.
Disagree.

I see no need for TB3 over TB2 on the MBA, and there isn't much out there that that even challenges TB2. Apple still needs ways to differentiate their ranges, and frankly it's adding more cost that could be better spent on the MBA screen. Don't give Apple ideas for more useless updates :)

Also I have yet to to see any devices using USB-C in the wild. USB3 with dongles will cover for USB-C for a while longer. USB-C is definitely the way forward but the MBA doesn't need it yet.

USB-C also, in Apple's mind, means getting rid of the magnetic charger. Three times today alone my kids have tripped over the charger wire. I'd have three smashed laptops (or the same one smashed three times) if it wasn't for the magnetic charger.
 

Pugly

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2016
262
204
The Air kinda hit the sweet spot for what people want in a laptop. The design started out great, then the performance was improved, then the battery life improved, then the price dropped, and intel's graphics have been getting better.

And now that the Air is at it's end of product life, it still has everything people need without the drastic changes, compromises and price of Apple's other laptops.

If you want macOS, don't need anything flashy and want to spend a reasonable amount of money(which is of course relative), the Air is really the only option right now. It's the best embodiment of Apple's "it just works" ad campaign. It could be better, but it works and that's what people need.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
52,191
35,647
The Far Horizon
It could be better, but it works and that's what people need.
It works perfectly well, and is incredibly reliable. A splendid solid, reliable machine that just works, looks great, has a wonderful battery life, and is extremely portable. And powerful, too.

People value these features.

Personally, not only do I not like the keyboard on the rMB, I loathe the idea of the Touchbar, and do not see why USB-C is, - for now - necessary.

I used to have a 15" MBP, but I will repeat what I have written here and elsewhere; the MBA is hands-down the best computer I have had by far in my life.
 
Last edited:

torana355

macrumors 68040
Dec 8, 2009
3,508
2,519
Sydney, Australia
Love my 2011 MBA, best computer ive ever owned not due to the specs but its reliability. If Apple put a decent 1080p IPS screen in the MBA it would probably cannibalise MBP sales big time. Not many people need the power of a MBP but we still want a decent screen.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Scepticalscribe

Kebabselector

macrumors 68030
May 25, 2007
2,851
1,174
Birmingham, UK
The screen is the only let down on my 11" MBA - but even then I'm happy with the product as it does everything I need and is probably the best value I've had from an Apple product in recent years (I did pick it up during a Black Friday deal with an additional 12% staff discount though!).
 

Mike MA

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2012
2,046
1,679
Mine runs out of OS support next year most certainly. But still I refuse to buy into a nearly ten year old design.
 

Bazza1

macrumors regular
May 16, 2017
148
113
Toronto, Canada
I'm happily bashing away on my mid-2011 11' Air. I'd consider moving to the 13", but I suspect that by the time I'm forced to do the move, it will no longer exist. I got the Air for its size, weight and, oh yeah...portability and functionality - the real points behind a notebook. And I'm not prepared to even consider the base replacement MacBook at its price point and with its lack of functionality. Even if it has a cool screen.

Apple wants us either to go to a iPad Pro as a replacement, or drink the Kool-Aid and accept less is more (works in design and architecture - less so in technology) with MacBooks. In my case, it'll probably result in moving (back) to a significantly less expensive - but just as capable - Windows notebook.
 

Isamilis

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2012
744
143
I couldn't agree more. I used to have 13" 2012 MBA, for about 5 years, until I have to switch using rMBP. I think MBA screen is degraded more since 10.10 version. The OS focused more for retina display. I prefer 10.9 in MBA screen compared to 10.10+

I think Air has 4 most needed features for most people: reasonable price, solid hardware, mobility (form factor), and battery life. While the other 13" line, such as rMB, rMBP gives you additional features, obviously better features but not as needed as the above 4 in MBA.

Personally, I would argue that the Air is popular because:

1) It is exceptionally reliable, (I'm typing this on one, and it is easily the best computer I have had in my life).

2) It is very portable - Apple (and tech types) sometimes forget that women buy computers, too. I'm middle aged and female, and I want something portable, powerful and reliable - the MBA fulfils that need.

3) Already mentioned: Great battery life. I can sit in a coffee shop - or, borrowed office - all day and do a decent day's work on a charge.

4) Also already mentioned: Affordable. Although my MBA - a maxed out 11" (512 GB SD, 8 GB RAM, Core i7) was not an entry level model.

5) Still marries well with the wider ecosystem, and the 11" has two USB ports (the 13" has three). Technology may have introduced us to the next generation, but many of us still need - and use - USB ports.

6) No need for a million dongles.

7) I like the magsafe.

8) My computer is more than powerful enough to do anything and everything I ask of it.

9) A retina screen would be nice, but it is not a necessity; given a choice between battery life and retina screen, my professional needs demand battery.
 
Last edited:

Yvan256

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2004
5,049
927
Canada
I couldn't agree more. I used to have 13" 2012 MBA, for about 5 years, until I have to switch using rMBP. I think MBA screen is degraded more since 10.10 version. The OS focused more for retina display. I prefer 10.9 in MBA screen compared to 10.10+
As a Mac mini user with an old non-retina display*, that's the one thing that's keeping me on 10.9.5, with 10.10 and above the fonts and everything looks really bad on a "normal" display.

* Tim Cook: my display is a ViewSonic VP171s from 2005, still works fine even though it's more than "five-years-old technology".
 

DocMultimedia

macrumors 6502a
Sep 8, 2012
696
1,544
Charlottesville, VA
Love my 2012 MacBook Air, but with only 4 gig of RAM it is getting sluggish on some apps. Will probably by a 2017 w/ 8 gig in the near future. Like it for all the same reasons others have mentioned. I got a MBP w/ Touch Bar at work the other day. Powerful, but keyboard bothers me, and the Touch Bar really is pointless.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Isamilis

KingslayerG5

Suspended
Oct 16, 2017
1,254
1,291
All I want from MacBook Air is Retina. Apple doesn't need to change much from it.

iPhone X - $1000, 3GB RAM
iPad Pro 12.9 - $800, 4GB RAM
MBA - $800, 8GB RAM
 
  • Like
Reactions: Isamilis

BornAgainMac

macrumors 603
Feb 4, 2004
6,458
3,476
Florida Resident
I am sad that Apple got rid of the Air 11 but technically the 13 inch was better with the faster drive, updated CPU, SD card slot, and best battery life of any Mac portable laptop ever made.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jchap
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.