Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

Summary: Apple has anointed the MacBook Air its mainstream entry level notebook, but the company may be missing an opportunity to really appeal to newbies.

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Apple has anointed the MacBook Air its mainstream entry level notebook, but the company may be missing an opportunity to really appeal to newbies.

Gallery: New MacBook Air and Mac mini

In a nutshell, Apple nuked the white MacBook and swapped in the MacBook Air (see hands on). In terms of sex appeal, the move is a no-brainer, but there is a bit of mourning in the discussion boards of various blogs.

Reaction thus far seems to be mixed. On CNET News' story about the end of the white MacBook some buyers noted that the previous model didn't garner interest. Another person said:

That really sucks. The Macbook was a great computer for students. Some of us would rather have a full laptop than the ultra-portable that is the Macbook Air.

The MacBook Air starts at $999 for the 11-inch model and the 13-inch version starts at $1,299.

In return, you get Intel's i5 processor and no optical drive. Prices across the MacBook Air spectrum run $999 to $1,599. "MacBook Air is the ultimate everyday notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief.

Why can't the MacBook Air be an entry level laptop? Here are a few trouble spots for me:

  • No optical drive. Folks want to use DVDs on the go. Apple's entry level Mac with an optical drive has a much higher price point.
  • Price. Couldn't Apple hit a better price point for an entry level model, say $799.
  • Does the entry level user really value the thin-is-in mentality? If it's an entry level PC chances are good you'll let the kids bang around on it. Do you really want the kids on a MacBook Air?
  • Are we really all cloud centric? The MacBook Air indicates a reliance on iTunes and the cloud due to a starting point of 64GB of disk. The white MacBook had more space (250 GB) in a hard drive.
  • The iPad. The arrangement of Apple's product line-up speaks to two themes: You're either thin or your MacBook Pro. And you're paying up. The subliminal message is that Apple thinks that the iPad is now the entry level laptop. Apple operating chief Tim Cook acknowledged as much on the company's earnings conference call:

In terms of cannibalization, we do believe that some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter. But we also believe that even more customers chose to purchase an iPad over a Windows PC. As I have said before, there is a lot more of the Windows PC business to cannibalize then the Mac.

Ultimately, the market decides. Is the MacBook Air really your idea of an entry level laptop? Or does the iPad fill that role now?

The other side of the argument via CNET: Can the MacBook Air replace the White MacBook? Maybe it's not trying to.

Related:

CNET coverage:

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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159 comments
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  • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

    It is not a mainstream entry level notebook at $999. You could buy two notebooks for that price.
    LoverockDavidson
    • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

      @LoverockDavidson hence the word "ultimate"
      CowLauncher
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @CowLauncher
        The word ultimate doesn't mean overpriced.
        LoverockDavidson
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @LoverockDavidson [i]The word ultimate doesn't mean overpriced. [/i]

        For Apple it does.
        Badgered
      • Miles from ultimate. Ridiculously out of the ballpark.

        @CowLauncher <br>It appears that Apple is starting to lose it.<br><br>They think that the iPad is the new standard for entry level notebooks? Wow. Just simply unbelievable. I guess the fact that most of the iPads sold are currently being used as a doorstop (exaggerating for effect) isn't going to get in the way of Apple pushing them on people who actually want a great content producing machine like a real laptop can, even though an iPad generally doesn't cut the mustard in that area.<br><br>And the Macbook air is the "ultimate" everyday notebook???<br><br>I think what really shows how Apple has lost it is that between the iPad and the Macbook Air they appear to be trying to dictate the premature end of the disk drive. Thats nice, but they cant do that without actually misleading customers into believing that the disk drive has no place in a modern laptop. While a disk drive is not perhaps as irreplaceable as it once was, there are still far far too many instances where one can simply come in very handy, or even necessary, to just pitch them away.<br><br>And yes, the price. The price for such a hogtied/limited piece of hardware is simply astonishing. Tiny HD, no disk drive and small screens simply relegate the Macbook Air to those ardent Apple fans who simply purchase whatever Apple produces because they refuse to purchase Windows. Good for them.<br><br>This is so ludicrous, its almost beyond comprehension. I don't expect the hard core Apple fanatics to give a rats behind about what I'm saying, but for those who live in reality land it should be a very stark reminder of why you really need to think hard about why you would ever want to spend your hard earned bucks on a Mac.
        Cayble
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @Cayble
        "They think that the iPad is the new standard for entry level notebooks? Wow. Just simply unbelievable. I guess the fact that most of the iPads sold are currently being used as a doorstop (exaggerating for effect) isn't going to get in the way of Apple pushing them on people who actually want a great content producing machine like a real laptop can, even though an iPad generally doesn't cut the mustard in that area."

        Doorstops? Yes, Apple has sold 9.2 million $600+ doorstops. Detached from reality much?
        SiValleySkip
      • Read a little closer. At least try.

        @SiValleySkip
        You did quote me and if you noticed I did say I was exaggerating about the "doorstop" comment.

        And the fact remains, for the multiple millions of iPads sold, you hardly see anywhere near what one would expect to see of them in public, and I certainly have seen why. Its because a lot of loonies bought into them thinking they were getting a laptop equivalent, which they were not. The things now generally reside on the corner of a coffee table or on a shelf, not getting used much.

        Figure it out, its not that hard, I mean what would the average person even use an iPad for? They certainly don't do much.
        Cayble
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @CowLauncher @Apple marketing director<br><br> ultimate? really? i can show you over 100 different laptops under the base air's price that are at least double the power and usefulness of the air many of them will have a blueray player, over 320GB hard drive(some times two or three 500GB drives making over 1TB) a mid range or upper level GPU that makes the intel GPU in the air laughable many of them capable of playing 3D games like modern warfare 2, a much larger easier to use higher resolution screen usually over 17 inches and over 945p and all of them have a full keyboard(many of them backlit) and multitouch touchpad.<br><br>case in point this toshiba<br><br><a href="http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/cdetland.to?poid=2000005949" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/cdetland.to?poid=2000005949</a><br>15.6 inch 768p VS 11.6 inch 768p(air has a higher PPI but at 2 feet not many people notice the difference of 768p and 945p on a 15 inch screen)<br>quad core core i7 2.0Ghz VS the 1.6Ghz dual core core i5 in the air<br>6GB DDR3 vs 2GB DDR3 both the same speed<br>640GB 5400RPM VS 64GB SSD<br>blue ray rom+DVD-RW VS nothing<br>nvidia GT 540+intel HD 3000 VS just the 3000 the 540 is more than double the power of the 3000 and helps to offload processes off of the CPU making it able to work much faster and more efficiently(less uptime for the same amount of work saves more energy than a low power computer)<br>both have LED backlit keyboards but the toshiba has a full keyboard<br>Wifi b/g/n +bluetooth 3.0HS vs wifi a/b/g+bluetooth 4.0<br>$1014 VS $999<br>both the same price, both the same quality but one is much more "ultimate" than the other

        and you could alway's put hackintosh on it and it would still be faster than the air even though hackintosh os poorly optimized for non mac hardware
        Feds Against Guns
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @Cayble

        I see lots of ipads out in the wild. I commute via train into the city every day and see a few each ride... The rarities are android tabs and I have only ever seen a 7" galaxy tab out in the wild.

        I do see more kindles than ipads though... Damn near everyone has a kindle now if they commute and are semi-literate.
        Eman101
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @SiValleySkip

        No they didn't, they shipped 9.2 Million, there is a difference...

        Go read the report again you will see they talk about sales for everything but the iPad.
        slickjim
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @Feds Against Guns

        You kind of forgot to mention a couple of things.

        5.7 pounds vs 2.38 and 2.96 pounds
        3 hour 10 min battery life vs 5 and 7 hours.
        A tiny two button, oddly placed trackpad vs full multi-touch trackpad.
        Just those two things improve usability immensely.

        Also, Thunderbolt should garner a mention, though I don't think it will come into its own for about a year.

        For those that are energy conscious, the MBA seems to meet or exceed energy standards whereas Toshiba doesn't actually mention energy status, at least from what I could see.

        And as an aside, don't forget the iLife suite of software pre-loaded.

        But all that said, I'm sure the two machines are aimed at completely different audiences.
        A Grain of Salt
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @CowLauncher the lack of an optical drive and tiny storage keep it from being ultimate, but it does make it overpriced.
        Al_nyc
    • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

      @LoverockDavidson
      YES but not Apple, the issue here is people that want MAC...
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @Hasam1991
        No they want an entry level notebook.
        LoverockDavidson
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @Hasam1991
        Did you mean to say "CRACK" instead of MAC? Because folks just want a machine that does the job that they don't have to rob thier 401K's to buy. Apple doesn't meet that need with ANY of their products, ESPECIALLY with the MacBook Air.
        howard.blake@...
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @howard.blake@... If you have to rob your 401K to buy a $1K device then I suggest you get a far better job.
        non-biased
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @non-biased a recent survey showed that almost half of all Americans couldn't scrape together $2000 in 30 days if needed. About 46% of the country couldn't cope with one small financial emergency (car, home repair, health, etc.). I'd imagine there's quite a few for whom $1K would also be a problem.

        In a time of almost 10% unemployment (with the real rate much higher) getting a "better" job isn't an option for almost anyone.

        That's the environment in which a $1K "everyday" computer from Apple has been released.
        jgm@...
    • Odd

      Are you sure you're not Ed Bott?
      ego.sum.stig
      • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

        @ego.sum.stig@...
        Last time I checked I wasn't :)
        LoverockDavidson
    • RE: Apple's MacBook Air: Really the 'ultimate everyday notebook'?

      @LoverockDavidson Actually you could buy 4. I have seen MANY Windows 7 notebooks at $250.
      condelirios