Is the 12" MacBook line dead?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Florida Gator, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Florida Gator macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2004
    I love the 12" MacBook, but I'm concerned about its future.

    Apple's focus, understandably, is on iPhone, iPad, Watch and services now. And despite this week's event, it still seems clear that the Mac is something they don't want to spend a lot of time and energy on. Tim Cook's Apple has seen Mac update intervals stretched farther and farther and products like iMac, Mac Pro and MacBook still have not been updated in quite some time.

    As of Tuesday, we now have an updated, lightweight, lower-cost 13" MacBook Air and a powerful, extremely portable and Apple-cherished iPad Pro lineup. So in Apple's eyes, where does the 12" MacBook fit in? My guess? No where.

    They had their chance to update the 12" MacBook this week with new processors, a new keyboard and Touch ID. They did nothing.

    One could argue they don't have the resources right now, but they could have shared the new components with the Air. Maybe they didn't want to detract from the Air's announcement? But now they drag an old 12" MacBook into the lucrative holiday season. You could say they'll update them soon, but then why go through the trouble of updating the gold to a new shade? They could have at least renamed it to help clearly distinguish the laptop line, but nope, they just left it, presumably to fade away.

    I fear this product is now too niche. Want a Mac? Get the Air. Want something ultra-portable? The new iPad Pros are incredible! If this were 2008, I could see Apple committing to an ultra-light, expensive, Mac for professionals, but I think the writing's on the wall they've got bigger fish to fry now.

    Perhaps they are waiting for ARM chips? Perhaps they are just waiting to see if people care. But what I suspect is that Apple intends to let the quirky little 12" MacBook slowly die.
  2. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    They let the Mini twist in the wind for 4 years without an update (some will say 6 years) so wait 6 months to a year before saying it will fade away. They might update it after the holidays, to pump up Air sales numbers (plus the ever important average revenue will go up again).

    My guess is that they will eventually let it fade away, as the Air was supposed to be their thin and light model and the MacBook is in some ways a better Air. Perhaps they are waiting for the iPad to fully catch up (certain tasks and benchmarks show that the next generation could be interesting).
  3. BODYBUILDERPAUL, Nov 2, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2018

    BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
    The MacBook design is 4 years old next Spring - maybe just maybe, they'll give it a new design. Maybe the life will come back to Mac when ARM is introduced!
    Looking at yesterdays sales, doesn't the Mac outsell iPad by nearly twice the amount? I'm always surprised to see how small the iPad market is compared to the rest of Apple's figures. Mind you, i've never wanted one for myself as I use the 12" MacBook and an iPhone and that's more than enough for me.

    To me, it sounds so weird and dated using the term 'MacBook Air'. What the heck was Apple thinking? Why was that old, tinny sounding, horrible laptop loved? I simply don't understand. It wasn't a nice design, it wasn't chic, elegant. Just boring. Maybe that's what the mainstream like - something bland, conservative, unexciting and doesn't stand out? I don't know. I guess that it's the Ford Focus of the line. Yuk!

    To me, the 12" form factor is perfect. I was really hoping that 2 years ago when the new MacBook Pro was announced that they would of made a 12" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Tat would have been my perfect perfect perfect machine and design ever. I love the keyboard that goes right up to the edge.

    £1400 for a 256GB MacBook Air that really does not have any WOW factor. I simply can't think of many people who can afford to pay that for a laptop now. Time will tell.
  4. fokmik macrumors 68030

    Oct 28, 2016
    how can the Macbook line be dead when they release the all new 13" Macbook that only apple call it Air just to keep that name alive but from inside out its a bigger brother of the 12"
  5. Florida Gator thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2004
    I asked if the 12” MacBook line is dead. In my mind, Apple thinks the new 13” Air and iPad Pros cover most use-cases for the 12”.
  6. fokmik macrumors 68030

    Oct 28, 2016
    No, i don't think the 12" Macbook is dead. Probably it will be the biggest announcement since this is the best contender for the aRm mac
  7. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007
    I think if they wanted to kill it and put a nail in its coffin, they would have done so during this event by removing it from their website - especially given how close it is to the new Macbook Air.

    I suspect that come spring, we will see ARM introduced and hence why its just going to stay as it is for now until they have an update ready... rather than killing it and then reviving it.
  8. HardBall macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    Yep, that is a very realistic scenario now.

    Given that
    - they simply did an update to the exterior this time without any internals
    - the 13.3" MBA now takes over as the budge intel option, so they can do more experimentation on the smaller formfactor
    - intel has been extremely slow in coming up with low power versions of new gen microarchitectures
    - they are trying to add UIkit as a viable way to develop for the Mac
    - there has been rumors for 3 years now that they are moving to ARM mac direction
    - recent significant boosts in A series chip, to the point that it's on parity with mid-range intel chips in many areas

    This is probably the direction that makes the most sense.
  9. Florida Gator thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2004
    Sometimes they just let products languish and wither away. Un-updated for years. They did that with the last traditional iPods, are doing it with the iPod Touch and tried to do it with the Mac mini and MacBook Air.
  10. lambertjohn macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2012
    I think the 12" MacBook is indeed headed for the grave. They'll let it languish for a while and see how the 13" MacBook (I mean Air) sells, and then when stocks are depleted, they'll quietly remove it from the website. I personally don't see why they would keep it around when the 13" Air is essentially the same thing in a little bit bigger chassis. I ordered a base Air, so when it arrives on the 7th, I'll be able to make a better assessment of the 12" Macbook's future. Until then, my vote is, the 12" MacBook is history.
  11. afir93, Nov 3, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

    afir93 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2018
    It's also possible that we just haven't seen an updated 12" MacBook at the event because the Intel chips Apple wants to use aren't available yet, or aren't available in high enough quantities, or there are other planned changes that are delaying the rollout of these machines.

    Looking at the table, the most likely candidates that also fit the MacBook's 5 TDP are the i5-8200Y and the i7-8500Y, both of which have only been started to be rolled out at the end of August, and we know little of their availability. There can easily be a couple months between the official launch of a new Intel chip and Apple releasing a new Mac with that chip.

    The 8th generation mobile CPUs that are in the current MPBs for comparison were initially launched in March of 2018 but the MBPs were updated at the end of July this year, a whopping four months later, whereas last week's event happened barely two months after the initial rollout of the Amberlake chips. It's not out of question that Apple just didn't manage to get them into the MacBooks in time, and didn't want to announce new MacBooks several weeks or even months in advance.

    Besides, the CPU is only one possible element in the production chain that might cause a delay. You'll notice for example that all new Macs announced last week come with for example the T2 chip – maybe, updating even more product lines at the same date could have caused too much trouble and delays in the production chain and therefore too large delays for the consumer, and Apple wanted all that they announced at the event to be available right away and wanted to nail the launch of the MBA and Mac mini first.

    Of course this is by nature a very speculative topic, and these are just my two cents. Personally I don't see the 12" MacBook line going away anytime soon – it's their ultraportable, it's the Mac in their lineup for people that value portability above all and it's a great option for those people that the new MacBook Air doesn't really replace. The iMac also hasn't been updated last week and we can certainly all agree that it isn't going anywhere either. Besides, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted a refresh for the 12" MacBook (and iMacs) for this fall if I remember correctly, and while he's occasionally wrong about the timeline of things, most of his predictions about the actual products turn out to be right.

    My guess is that the new iMacs and 12" MacBooks are simply pushed back for any reason, either to a March 2019 event or maybe to a silent refresh with just a press release sometime between now and then.

    Edit: Also, as others have said – the 12" MacBook might be the best candidate for the debut of ARM CPUs on the Mac if you compare the thin, fanless form factors, TDPs, the motherboard sizes of the 12" MacBook and for example the new iPad Pros. To be clear, this switch is not something we should reasonably expect to happen in less than two years at the least, but it seems unlikely that Apple would drop that machine in the meantime when it's such a suitable candidate for their long-term plans. The 12" MacBook has a form factor that apple is moving towards with all their other Macs, not away from, so it would be odd for them to drop the machine that best encapsulates what their Mac design is gravitating towards.
  12. alexandero macrumors regular

    Apr 19, 2004
    Before a MB with ARM-CPU is introduced, Apple will announce the transition at WWDC, providing developers with the necessary tools to enable a seamless transition. Therefor the earliest for a hardware release is September 2019.

    I assume that Apple will update the MB in early 2019, with a newer CPU, a 3rd-gen keyboard, a 128GB SSD option and a price of $999, and at the same time fade out the old MBA. And whenever the MBP is updated, the nTB-MBP will be faded out, as its overlap with the new MBA is too large.
  13. Florida Gator thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2004
    Or not.

    1. Apple could just let the MacBook languish until the ARM switchover. Look what they did with MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Pro and the current iMac. There were several opportunities for them to make small incremental updates, but they chose not to. Too much hassle for too little reward.

    2. I'm not sure $999 is the magic number anymore. At some point, that price-point is just going to become unobtainable because of inflation. Secondly, Apple's goal over the last year has been to raise their products' average selling price. The 12" MacBook remains expensive for them to produce (screen, terraced batteries) and I'm sure they want to maximize margin on it, since it is such a niche product.
  14. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    With the new Air's being announced why would they bother with a new MacBook? I say it fades away quietly.
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I disagree. The MacBook is fine. The Air is considerably heavier. Remember that the processor in the Air is only 9% faster than last year’s base MacBook. Apple is waiting for Cannonlake next year to give us a proper update.
  16. alexandero macrumors regular

    Apr 19, 2004
    If the 3rd-gen keyboard drastically reduces the number of repairs, they will want to update the MB. In my specific case, the 2nd-gen keyboard on a MBP 2016 was defect, so Apple swapped the entire top case (including batteries) for free. That's probably something they want to have to do as rarely as possible. (I'm not sure if Apple currently offers free repairs on defect MB-keyboards though)

    Inflation is an aggregated measurement of price changes over multiple categories. For electronics, inflation has been negative over the past years and decades, meaning that electronic goods can be produced cheaper every year, even while improving the items. Therefor Apple could certainly also produce a $799 laptop – if they want to.

    I believe the question is: does Apple want to sell a laptop that is cheaper than a phone? If that causes marketing issues, Apple won't maintain the $999 price, and will fade out any kind of cheap laptop over the next few years.
  17. afir93 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2018
    Because it's significantly smaller, lighter and more portable, and because of its fanless design that therefore even under stress-situations always stays dead-silent?

    The difference between these two machines may look large right now for two products in about the same price range, but remember that you're comparing a product that was released 17 months ago with one that has just been announced (and even so, the performance difference is only about 9%, according to the first benchmarks). If we assume that the current differentiating features like the T2 chip, 3rd-gen butterfly keyboard, Thunderbolt 3 etc. also come to the 12" MacBook (and yes, the Amberlake chips seem to support Thunderbolt 3, so it's reasonable to expect it to come to the MacBooks in their next refresh), then you have two products with about the same performance and features, but one offers a slightly larger screen and is more directed at the average buyer while the other one is aimed at people who want the most portability that they can get.
  18. bambooshots macrumors 65816


    Jul 25, 2013
  19. HardBall macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    Nah, it's typical of Apple to let various lines of product sit for significant amount of time, before major updates. Even in recent few years, we have examples of Mac Mini, Mac Pro, iMac, 15" MBP, etc. If you remember, the retina 15" was running on more that 2 year old intel chip by late 2016, until it was updated.

    These times usually correspond to major redesigns or major changes in internal architectures though. That's why many of us are expecting a significant redesign next year for the 12" MB, possibly as a test balloon for an ARM based Mac, which would fit the recent modus operandi of Apple ( in terms of updates, and the propensity to move product lines to their own designed silicon ) very well.
  20. DNAppleGold macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2009
    Exactly. If the MB specs/performance were a bit under the MBA, I'd still buy the MB because portability is a premium for me. But if if screen space and more power was what I looking for then I'd get an air. As we sit here today, the MB needs either a spec bump or a price drop. Either are possible. If I were Tim C. (because, of course, he needs my advice). Here's how I see Apple's current notebook lineup from lowest to highest price
    - MB - ultra portable with solid performance.
    - MBA - portable and great performance
    - MBP - portable enough with killer performance.
  21. ghanwani macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    I hope the MB survives. If weight is paramount, then that is your machine. Can't believe my mac weighted 4.5 lb only a few years ago. Now even 3 lb feels a bit much.

    The rumors for earliest appearance of an ARM-based mac point to 2020. By then it would be an almost 4 year old design. While I would expect a sooner refresh, Apple has been selling a lot of old hardware of late, so I wouldn't rule out the 4 year gap.
  22. infernoguy macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Why change a good thing. All they need to add is Thunderbolt 3 and ARM (for super long battery life) and boom!
  23. ghanwani macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    By refresh, I meant the silicon, especially the RAM speed. The keyboard could use an update. The rest is fine. Even a single TB3 is OK. If we have to use a dongle to get to everything anyway, it doesn't hurt to use a multi-port one.
  24. infernoguy macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    I personally like the keyboard on the 2017 version. I'm sure the 2018/2019 version will add the keyboard from the newest MacBook Air.
  25. HardBall macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    Whether or not they go to ARM with the 12" next year, there isn't really a need to change the design. An ARM chip with similar performance profile actually will also have similar TDP. The big difference is of course that Apple would control the entire manufacturing and design stack. And Intel's recent repeated delays in mobile chips has really gotten tiresome, I just don't know how much longer can Apple justify not going to ARM any more.

    The biggest obstacle of course is that some applications would need to be emulated on day one, which will get a a performance hit. Something like what transmeta did back in the day would probably work sufficiently well. Intel is still having massive problems moving to 10nm, while the competition (TSMC, Samsung, etc) are all gearing up for 7nm in the near future. So that alone might mitigate some of the power issues related to emulation. And tweaking and recompiling an application is nothing like changing API framework, can be done by most devs in space of a couple of weeks of dedicated time.

Share This Page