There can be a myriad of complex reasons for a product’s discontinuation, not necessarily at fault of the product. The word “fail” strongly implies that the product itself was to blame, when theoretically it could have been a perfect product, adored by a large market, bringing in generous profit for Apple, but was shut down because of inter or intra company politics or some other exterior influence. Not saying that that is necessarily the case here, but such things can and have happened before. So in place of the word “failed” with all its connotations, it would be all around safer to simply use the words “was discontinued”.
In any case, it’s a shame. I always thought the rMB was a product with great vision. It had a singular goal: the most portable Mac ever. And I think Apple was able to make the Macbook as portable as it was because of what they learned from the iPad. And in some ways, I think the rMB was Apple’s answer to their own iPad Pro. People who loved the super portable, fanless iPad Pro still longed for things about the Mac—such as central file management, floating windows, and mouse input with their keyboard. But Apple being Apple said, “No, some things need to stay separate.” But it’s almost as if that made them think, “Although... a super portable, fanless Mac is a good idea, and maybe what some of you want.”. So then they made the rMB.
It’s a given that for that level of portability (and presumably that price), Apple had to make sacrifices on performance and connectivity, which of course angled itself toward a more specific market. So for those who wanted the rMB to have more power or ports, the rMB just wasn’t made for them. But for those who loved the Mac experience, and had highest demands for portability and silence, and low demands on performance and connectivity (eg. writers), the rMB was the ideal device.
Were there not enough people who liked the rMB‘s trade offs? Who knows.
Maybe Apple couldn’t get the profit margin they wanted and priced the rMB into too small of a market.
Or maybe Apple had bigger plans for the iPad Pro than the rMB and saw the rMB as too competetive.
Or maybe Apple wasn’t satisfied with the performance of Intel’s M chips.
Mine (1.3, 512, 2018 model) is still going strong 2 years later. Great computer, great form factor, more than enough speed for what I have to do (and I suspect for what 99% of all of us do with our computers).
I've adjusted to the single USB C port, with just about everything stored in the cloud and emailed to where it needs to go, and an 11 port dongle for the rest.
I suspect Apple killed it since John Ive no longer had any influence with the company, and the pinhead supply chain corporate guys like Tim Cook felt that the iPad with a slim keyboard was a better way forward to compete with the Surface. Good luck, second coming of Scully.
I am not a big fan of the file structure of iOS and I am not going to change my way of doing things after 20-30 years. Perhaps I am too old and resistant to change.
Thus, the MacBook 12 is the closest thing to a tablet that retains the Mac OS file structure. I'll keep using mine until it dies (hopefully years from now). My iPad will remain a content viewing device.
In terms of performance, I just picked up an i7 8GB 2017 refurb and benchmarked it in Geekbench 5 against my i5 8GB 2017.
Single-Core - 881
Single-Core - 719
The i7 was factory fresh whereas the i5 had various apps installed, so the difference is probably exaggerated, but both are fairly decent scores and comparable to a 2018 MacBook Air. So 2017 MB performance remains pretty much on par with current entry level Macs.
The single USB-C port isn't great, but dongle life isn't so bad in this form factor and it has exactly the same number of USC-C ports as the iPad Pro.
The size is fantastic if what you want is a travel laptop. For a daily driver, 12 inches feels a little small, although the developments in full screen apps in Mac OS lessened this somewhat.
I think the real reasons for the MacBook being killed are market overlap with MBA and iPad Pro, together with the butterfly keyboard being on its way out and so investment in a redesign was needed that could not be justified given that the MBA and iPad Pro cannibalised sales.
Also its discontinuation gives Apple the opportunity to do something laptop-like with its A processors.
While I won’t be getting my hopes up, maybe someday Apple will revisit an ultra portable MacBook. I always liked the 12” MacBook, but could never find a good reason to justify buying one. I recently bought an 11-inch Linux laptop (Starlabs Lite Mkii) and it’s been great... fanless, real keyboard, 1080p display, plenty of ports and ultra portable (2.5#). I’d love to see what Apple‘s design and engineering folks could do with this form factor as a starting point.
No T2 security chip & touch I.D. probably was the main reason that it had to go. If anything, the new Air should never have been released. I hate it. It's not a MacBook Pro in any way and it's not a MacBook 12". There's no reason for the MacBook Air. I wonder whose stupid idea it was? Just when we thought that damn Air name was gone and don't even get me started on the old design of the iPad Air!!! WTF Apple?
I gave my wife one 18 months ago (base 2017 in Rose Gold). Sat in the box until recently when I re-set it up for her. After getting used to MacOS she now loves it. I hope my maxed out 2017 lasts for a few more years.
I always wanted one until I actually saw it in the shop. It just felt flimsy – especially the hinge design – and the keyboard was awful. One port was a bummer, too, but I could have lived with it. It all came down to perceived build quality.
So I kept my 2013 11" Air and it hasn't missed a beat. It's been bumped and dropped and travelled a few times around the word and is still solid.