Maybe Apple underestimated demand?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Aston441, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Aston441 macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    I waited many years to buy a MacBook, waiting for a faster processor and an extra USB port.

    I fully expected them to release such a machine, and planned to buy immediately.

    The discontinuation of the MacBook was a HUGE SHOCK to me, and I'm sure to many.

    I buy immediately the most loaded one I could find last week, a i5/8/512, before they were all gone.

    Now I see they're almost all sold out everywhere, and prices are rising on the few remaining.

    I think I wasn't alone, waiting for the update.

    Now that I have it, it's an amazing machine. There's nothing out there like it.

    I almost wonder if Apple lost the engineers that could update it. The new MBA is evidence they can't make a small machine without a fan.
  2. deeddawg, Jul 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019

    deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Like you, I am also disappointed that the 12" MacBook line was discontinued. I've really enjoyed my 2015 model, and had been thinking I'd upgrade when a new model came out.

    Realistically though, it and the updated Air have a lot of "overlap" -- having both of them muddied the product lineup. Kinda makes sense to drop one or the other. I'd personally rather they'd chosen the other way round, but in all honesty the rMB is more of a niche product than is the update MBA
  3. Aston441 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    In agree lots of overlap...


    When I bought my 2011 MBA all the reviews the time said it was fanless.

    Really. It's why I bought it. I hate fans.

    I was SHOCKED after an OSX update, to suddenly hear the CPU fan spin up for the first time.

    Now, with so much junk code in MacOS and especially Chrome, the stupid fan runs all the time. I hate it so much.

    With the teardowns we have in this modern era, this time I'm sure I have no freaking fan, no matter how much worse the software gets I'm safe from fan.

    I'll never have that in anything else Apple offers, except maybe iPad OS, which is still a terrible replacement for a real computer.

    I tried using iPad as a laptop. It's awful.
  4. bodonnell202 macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2016
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    I suspect next year we'll see an updated MBA which has an ARM (Apple A series chip) and no fan. We'll see though...
  5. Fozziebear40 macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2008
    Newton-le-Willows, England
    I've just picked up a base MacBook for £799 from John Lewis here in the UK. What a wonderful machine, even at £1,249, but at this price it's a bargain. In clamshell mode with a 4k monitor it works great, and totally SILENT! No HDD or Fan. It's a better buy than the base Mac Mini (if you don't need the extra horse power). Use it as a desktop or you can just unplug it and take it with you.

    I've had Macs since the one in my sig, my favourite up until now was an 11" MacBook Air, but this is lighter and quieter.

    I too, waited for an update before buying, but it is a dead line now. It will be a while before another fanless computer comes out. You are talking ARM and a whole OS X rewrite.
  6. Aston441 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014

    We'll see. Exactly.

    Those of us that were around in the 1997-2009 era, when competition was EVERYWHERE in tech, building your own overclocked machine was fun and exciting....

    Well there isn't much competition any more, Apple basically won, and so the pace of tech innovation is a trickle compared to the good old days...

    It just feels so FRUSTRATING.

    Back then if there was a hole in the market, someone would jump in a fill it within six months, whether it was a big company like Sony or a guy in a garage in Pennsylvania.

    Now there's no point. Apple has the market locked down. The only real way to make money in tech, you have to play ball with the big boys, do what they say, and give them their cut.

    oh well
  7. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Well, Apple hasn't really made the best of decisions since... Tim Cook took over. And that's me being polite.

    I think it's fairly justified that they let the MacBook 12" go now because:

    1. If you look at the teardown, there's really not much room. They packed it to the brim. A 2nd port was very unlikely. They needed a redesign.

    2. The butterfly keyboard is hopeless. Even Apple themselves seem to have acknowledged that and will be moving back to regular scissor switch keyboard soon. And the 12" MacBook needs butterfly keys so... again, they need to redesign it.

    3. Intel has not really come out with a solution to top off the processor in the 12" MacBook for roughly 2 years. It's been "more of the same" for them. Hell, the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Pro 13" use practically the same processors. So with no reasonable hardware upgrade in sight for the 12", they couldn't just refresh it.

    4. It's not the MacBook Air, but the iPad that's directly competing with the 12" MacBook. And in that respect, you gotta remember that there's an iPad that's bigger than that MacBook. You may not agree but there's iPad OS coming now.

    5. As you said, Mac OS gets more and more bloated each passing day. I guess it's because Apple is losing talents left and right. Their engineers get poached by other companies all the time and they don't do anything to retain them (typical big corporate attitude). But... whichever the case, the fact is... Mac OS is just not as nimble as it used to be, and the consequence is that it'll most likely eventually require hardware that runs on fans to work properly. You can also thank Google for a part of that... because they are trying to push the web back to the Flash days.

    So with all those reasons, I think that's enough for Apple to axe the 12" until they can come up with a better design (and Intel has started moving on from their 3-year-old pit stop).

    It doesn't seem to have much to do with demands IMO, because Macs have been and always will be a small market for Apple, and they still upgraded the Mac Pro.
  8. Aston441 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014

    I really can't disagree with any of your points. Nevertheless I still find it shocking they just axed it! They kept the old 2013 MacPro going for how long?
  9. spiderpumpkin macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2014
    My 2017 MacBook i5/16/512 is perfect for my laptop needs. I've been using it for 2 years and I plan to use it for a few more years at least. I really like the fanless design and so far my keyboard hasn't given me any issues.

    I do hope Apple has a new fanless 12" MacBook again someday.
  10. Boardiesboi macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Sydney Australia
    Positive experience like yours make me question whether I should buy a 2017 MB or the latest 2019 MBA!
  11. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    If your main focus is small and light (“mobility”), buy the 2017 MB. Otherwise buy the 13” MBP.
  12. christ0pher macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2016
    I'm eagerly awaiting September. Hopefully they'll release an 11" MacBook Air. I recently returned from a 2 year trip around the world, where I took my 2016 12" M7 MacBook with me. It was/still is the most portable notebook on the market, hands down. When I returned, I sold it off and bought an eGPU and a 13" MBP. I was hanging out for a new 12" MacBook with TB3 to be released this year, which I would have bought in a heartbeat.
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    More like Intel engineers couldn't come up with any significant new processors which would fit within the thermal requirements of the Macbook. The only option would have been Amber Lake processors. At the top end (i7). There would have been about an 8% performance boost. Gains would have been a little better for the lower end m3 and i5 models. Assuming it could maintain better turbo boost frequencies. Which is doubtful as the small GHz bump was accompanied by a TDP bump from 4.5W Kaby Lake Y-series to a 5W Amber Lake Y-series.

    They likely tested the new CPU. Found they couldn't keep it cool with the Macbook. Instead Apple decided to put the higher performance 7W TDP variant of Amber Lake into the Macbook Air.

    Perhaps they will achieve a faster ultra low watt CPU when they get 10nm rolling. As it stands now. Apple would have had to have kept making the same model until at least Q2 2020 with Comet Lake or Q2 2021 with Tiger Lake. As Comet Lake will be 14nm. It too may also be a minor update. Tiger Lake is 10nm but Intel still may not hit 10nm marks.

    Much like the x86 OS X in the PowerPC era. Apple likely already develops macOS for ARM simultaneously with the Intel version.
  14. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    ... and everyone would be bytching about Apple selling 2017 technology at 2020 prices. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    Thanks for the background info on CPUs. Not something I follow these days, so nice to have input from someone who does.
  15. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I think "Apple underestimated demand" is impossible in the case of MacBook. Apple knows exactly how many they sell, of every product. It's possible to underestimate demand for a newly-introduced product, or one for which demand continues to grow, but for a product line that has been on the market for many years and that showed no evidence of grow in popularity... No, they have all the info they need to make informed decisions.

    I liked MacBook - ultra-thin and ultra-light, I thought it would appeal to more than it did. In my experience, after looking at MacBook many people would trade-off that lower weight and thinner profile in favor of a better price and/or larger display (MacBook Air in most cases).

    The only demand they may have underestimated is the OPs interest in having a MacBook with a more powerful processor and an additional USB-C port. However, it's more likely that they had a very good idea of how many might buy that configuration and decided against building it.
  16. Aston441, Jul 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019

    Aston441 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    After reading through all the excellent replies in this thread, I had another thought:

    Let's say y'all are right, there was no way to get a faster processor in without a fan...

    And the new MBA is the only place they could go really to get a faster processor.... so the MBA is essentially the updated MacBook...

    I think the MacBook may have been hurting MBA sales just by virtue of its existence because the MBA screen looks like hot garbage. Have any of you seen the new MBA screen? It looks HORRIBLE compared to the MacBook and MacBook Pro screens. Apple really cheaped out in that thing.

    When I saw a MacBook and a new MBA side by side the first time I couldn't believe Apple could go so low.

    At least now with the MacBook gone, the average consumer can in their mind justify the worse screen for lower cost. With the MacBook right next to it, it would make the consumer question Apple.


    I found an honest review discussing the terrible MBA display in the review. It's towards the end of the article:
  17. frou macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2009
    The new MBA's display is a Rolls-Royce compared to the TN horrors they were using from 2008-2017. I would save all the extreme negative adjectives for those.
  18. ondert macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2017
    I really don't understand why Apple revived the macbook after years and just killed it again after 2 iterations. Making the macbook line up so confusing is their fault. Reviving a new MacBook Air and putting the cpu that should be inside the 12" and then shifting the 15w tdp cpu from MacBook Air to base 13" mbp. One of these 3 laptops had to die and I would prefer the Air actually.
    12" model was so chic, so light, completely silence and best for light usage on the go. I think there were lots of girls out there using their 12" model at coffee shops, on trains, in the bed etc.
    Current MacBook Air just doesn't make sense. Why would anyone buy it when you can go with base 13" mbp for 200$ addition. It offers much more performance, better webcam, much better cooling, better display, Touch Bar if you like etc. Yet MBA is nearly large and heavy as the 13" mbp and it comes with a crappy webcam and a fan spinning at 8000 rpm and blow air to nowhere..
    They could just keep the 12" model and set the cpu tdp to 4.5w and lower the price to the Air level.
  19. ApfelKuchen, Jul 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019

    ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Maybe features aren’t as important to many consumers as price? MB was the sleekest and lightest, but not cheapest. As long as MBA was non-Retina and old design, it was obvious why it was cheapest. Upgrade it, and it’s harder to explain why MB should be more expensive. After all, 13” MBP is cheaper than 15” MBP.
  20. mj_ macrumors 6502a


    May 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    The bottom line is that the Air still sells exceptionally well in certain markets, especially among college students in the US and Canada. The MacBook was never able to make inroads into that particular segment of the North American market. On top of that there's the processor situation that @bill-p described so well. And last but not least its primary design element, the Butterfly keyboard, turned out to be a major financial disaster. Keeping the MacBook going would have required too much effort, and with the overlap between it and the Air and the fact that the Air was the better known and better selling model it's not particularly surprising it got axed. I mourn the loss of the only fanless Macintosh computer and am desperately hoping for a fanless MacBook Air with an x86 processor (if Apple starts putting ARM chips into their Macs I am definitely out for good) in the near future. Given the general lack of interest in fanless designs and the overall public's ignorance to fan noise it is most likely never going to happen, though.

    And no, the iPad with its castrated locked-in iOS operating system is not an option and most certainly not a successor to the fanless MacBook. An iPad remains an iPad with all its limitations and drawbacks no matter how often Apple decides to rename its operating system.

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19 July 18, 2019