What’s old is new. I wrote the title for this post in 2011 on July 20th. Apple has now once again discontinued the MacBook and introduced a new MacBook Air. When I originally drafted this post in 2011 (unreleased post), I said the following and I think much of this still applies today…
With the death of the MacBook, we saw an update to the MacBook Air line of notebooks early today. There’s a lot of guessing at Apple’s reasoning for eliminating the MacBook. Most seem to conclude that it helps Apple to streamline their offerings. With the introduction of iPhones, iPods, and iPads, they’ve had a growing line of devices and that really conflicts with the relatively few choices that consumers used to have just a few short years ago when entering an Apple store. To help avoid consumer confusion, it could be that they want to tighten up the lineup once again.
This makes a lot of sense. With iPads flying off the shelfs, they could also see an introductory priced MacBook as too much competition for the iPads pricing and they’re not about to have a $500 notebook in the stores. You could, of course, buy an older MacBook for just about $500 on eBay or Craigslist as well. Apple tends to market themselves as a higher end company and a sub-$900 laptop wouldn’t really fit with that strategy.
The 12″ MacBook had not been updated in 764 days according to the Apple Buyer’s Guide. Apple has taken an average of 301 days to update the MacBook Pro line so it’s logical to think that this was essentially already a discontinued product internally. It’s possible that it could come back again, but I think Apple has likely discovered that having a moniker like “Air” or “Pro” attached to the MacBook (Mac = Computer, Book = laptop) helps to define the specific expectation of performance for users without having to explain it further in store. The “Air” essentially provides a classic highly portable computing experience for those that can’t survive on an iPad alone and does so without compromising the size of screen any longer. If you really need a smaller screen, the iPad is for you. They simply do not sell any full computer that directly competes with the iPad in terms of size any longer.
The iPad has similarly taken on these “Air” and “Pro” monikers and the classic iPad hasn’t been updated in 469 days. I would not be surprised if we see this same naming convention come to the iPhones for the next generation. This would help to keep the entire line up very clear and help with the naming convention. iPhone XI and XIR wouldn’t make sense, but Air and Pro would be simple. Similarly, iPhone 9 or 11 would seem like a random change in the naming patterns. At least Air and Pro have some established base.
Of course, I have no real insight here and just enjoy thinking about the product naming. The iMac was just updated 112 days ago and is simply “iMac” and not “iMac Air” so it’s completely possible that I’m way off base… 🙂 The new monitor they released is named with “Pro” first instead of at the end. Maybe there is really no master plan and they’re just trimming the fat. It’s still one of the simplest product line-ups in consumer PCs and electronics available and Apple seems to be doing more today to keep it that way.