What is the point of the new MBA? To replace the nTB MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by skaertus, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    I am trying to understand why Apple released the new MacBook Air.

    It seems to me basically a 13-inch version of the 12-inch MacBook, which Apple decided to name "MacBook Air" instead of simply "13-inch MacBook". That is probably due to the fact that the MacBook Air is a beloved laptop, and Apple did not want to kill it off.

    But what puzzles me is why Apple decided to release a new 13-inch laptop when it already has a 13-inch laptop which is almost identical, with a few differences.

    The MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air have the same screen size (13-inch) and resolution (2560x1600), with the same aspect ratio (16:10). The MacBook Pro may have P3 color support and be more bright, but those are minor differences for the majority of the users.

    They both have a similar size and weight. OK, the MacBook Air is lighter, but only 0.27 lbs, a difference which is minimal.

    Both have two Thunderbolt ports, similar cameras, keyboards and trackpads.

    OK, they have different processors, but only because Apple decided to put different processors on each laptop. Any of these chassis could hold any of these processors.

    The price point is the same. The MacBook Air is USD 100 cheaper, but that is a small difference, and in the range of increase/decrease that Apple usually practices.

    The only point I see in Apple releasing the new MacBook Air is that it may want to discontinue the non-Touch Bar version of the MacBook Pro in the near future.

    Both are very similar and they have the same price point. Plus, Apple has not upgraded the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

    It could be a win for Apple, since it would charge USD 100 less for the Air and offer more color options in a slightly lighter package, but would remove features such as P3 color, 500 nit brightness, and would offer a weaker processor. Cheaper, but you also get less for less money.

    Is this the whole point of the new MacBook Air? If not, I honestly do not see why Apple would release it at all.
  2. profmatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2015
    The whole Apple product line is now ridiculously cluttered and confusing.

    I’m pretty much out of the laptop game now. I have an iMac and an iPad and that works for me. But if I were to buy a new laptop I’d have no idea what the meaningful differences are. Except they’re all really expensive.
  3. ondert macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2017
    Yeah, you are right and things get more complicated now. Air would be seen the one will be discontinued, however now, I wonder if 12” macbook will die soon with the 13” non touchbar mbp.
  4. Ma2k5 macrumors 68020


    Dec 21, 2012
  5. Robert McNewbie macrumors newbie

    Robert McNewbie

    Sep 21, 2018
    AFAIK the new MBA has 7W TDP CPU while the in nTB MBP is a 15W TDP CPU. Probably Apple considers that the real world performance difference is worth 100 usd extra for the MBP. I also think that the MBA makes the nTB MBP redundant. (see also 2nd gen butterfly kb issues)
  6. pendragon1984 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    Only thing I can guess is that they're going to discontinue the nTB macbook pro.
  7. nutmac macrumors 601

    Mar 30, 2004
    You answered your own question. Apple could've easily updated non-Touch Bar MBP with newer processor and components but didn't.

    I think 12-inch MacBook is alive and will be updated with newer components, newer keyboard, and Touch ID. It's a bit surprising it wasn't yesterday, but it fills a specific niche.
  8. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    I think the real point of this was to get a visually updated laptop of some kind using the name “MacBook Air” to hopefully get people to buy it this time.

    The non-Touch Bar 13 inch MacBook Pro was always supposed to be the new air and nobody was buying it and now Apple is trying to just confuse you into buying something worse by using the correct Air name.
  9. haralds macrumors 6502a


    Jan 3, 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    MacBook Air has been a popular sub brand.
    Other product lines will be revised, when they are ready.
  10. skaertus, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2018

    skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    I guess you are right. Apple is probably re-launching the nTB MBP in a lighter package and with a more familiar name, to make it more popular.

    I guess the 12-inch MacBook will keep being updated. Perhaps Apple re-brands it so it becomes the 12-inch MacBook Air, to match the new 13-inch MacBook Air.

    That is my bet as well. It just does not make sense for Apple, which has a such a small offering of products, to have two lines of laptop which serve nearly the same purpose and at the same price point.

    I dont’t think the 12” model will die. The 13” Air is its larger counterpart, and I think both will be kept.

    Both expensive and both similar. Hard to tell the difference indeed.
  11. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    The Air has been one of Apple's most popular Mac products. It makes a great deal of sense to update it.
    The 12" MacBook is smaller and quite a bit less powerful than the new Air.
    The MacBook Pro is similar in size but quite a bit more powerful.

    Bottom line...buy whatever suits your needs.
  12. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    Through all of this they continue to not make the one computer I do really want which is a MacBook air level performance device with a larger than 13 inch screen
  13. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    I think the 12 inch macbook was meant to replace the air but it didnt take off like apple had hoped. people were still buying the air despite the 12 inch macbook option available. I think the airs own popularity is what saved it. apple is not completely opposed to giving people what sells.
  14. cynics, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018

    cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    My theory (aka probably BS).

    Apple wanted to prepare their customers and the market in general to the idea of TB3/USB-C but they needed to do it without destroying an established product. So they brought back the otherwise dead MacBook (5 years without an update at that point) with ONLY a USB C/TB3 in an attempt to force change with minimal risk.

    Keep in mind if it had usb a AND usb c the usb c would have gone unused by most and remained a niche port for professionals like TB1/2 before it.

    Its also likely Apple knew they were going to need a way to transmit 5k resolutions easily so they had a reason to push the idea.

    At first everyone hated it and criticized it and some still do. However with the MacBook only having TB3 it forced people to take notice ("If thats the only port a company like Apple would put on it there's got to be a method to the madness"). As customers were learning about the cables, products and accessories that support it the market for it and behind it grew. This caused some competitions and better prices.

    Sure, its not a bad idea to carry a dongle around still depending your work load and if you travel, etc. But for the most part just have the cables on your accessories is a better and cleaner idea than dongles. At this point I don't even own a USB C device but I have 2 USB C to USB A cables in my "wire drawer".

    Just my theory, nothing I've read anywhere or anything.
  15. Kimcha macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2012
    I don’t think they want to discontinue the ntb-MBP... if they wanted to do it, now would have been the time.

    There is no reason to keep it... unless apple had plans for it!

    The only reason the ntb-MBP wasn’t updated is that intel didn’t have 15W chips that are suitable for it. I believe the GPUs on the new 15w were weaker than the one on my he previous gen. So apple couldn’t update it.

    I think they are waiting for intel to release suitable 15w quad core chips for the ntb-MBP.

    Then the line-up will make sense:
    1. rMBA with long battery life and 7w dual core.
    2. ntb-MBP with better screen and 15w quad core
    3. MBP 13”
    4. MBP 15”

    Perhaps they will even drop the MBA price by $100 if it doesn’t sell well. Alternatively they might increase the ntb-MBP price by $50-100.
  16. Pugly macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2016
    That makes sense for Apple to wait for a better GPU 15w for the nTB MBP. To me that's the machine to get, if Apple ever releases it.
  17. nutmac macrumors 601

    Mar 30, 2004
    13" MBP without TB is largely identical to MBP, so there's no reason it couldn't get the same class of CPU. Apple is keeping it in the line up as new 13" MBP is substantially more expensive.

    Once the supply chain and inventory are sorted out, the only portable line up that makes sense to me is:
    • 12" MacBook: Most iPad-like Mac, and only one without a fan, for those who want the most portable experience. When it is updated, I think it will start at either $1000 or $1100 with new 128 GB SSD configuration, eliminating older MacBook Air entirely.
    • 13" MacBook Air
    • 13" MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) and 15" MacBook Pro
    My prediction is that both 12" MacBook and 13" MacBook Air will be the first to switch to Apple designed ARM processor in 1-2 years while MacBook Pros will get a hybrid dual Apple ARM + Intel processors (for VM and other applications).
  18. blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    The new MBA would make a lot more sense if it cost $1000 to start. At $1200 it's just $100 less than a computer with a better screen and more power that weighs .25 lbs more. The MacBook looks ridiculous at $1300. Imagine a lineup where the MacBook starts at $900, the new MBA at $1000, and the MBP at $1200. Then it would be more clear. As it stands it's a mess. Also it feels like Apple is just trying to gin up sales based on the MacBook Air name, when in reality people bought it because it was light and cheaper. Now it's expensive and not so light. Shame.
  19. mashinhead macrumors 68030

    Oct 7, 2003
    My read is they have a lot of brand equity in the name. The Air was orignally a halo product, intended use manfacturing process and technologies to make the thinnest machine possible. It was very expensive for what it was when it launched. About $1800-1900 if I remember correctly As time went by, the prices went down, and the learnings were applied to the MBP lineup. It then became known as the 'affordable' mac full scale laptop, popular for consumer use. Portable. Cheap. Light. I guess they are banking on that perception, because after this update it doesn't really live up to the previous reputation anymore.

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18 October 31, 2018