First introduced in 2006, the MacBook was part of Apple’s transition to Intel-based laptops. The MacBook has traditionally been the least expensive laptop offered by Apple and is aimed at primarily the consumer and education markets. In addition, it is the best-selling Macintosh in history. According to the sales-research organization NPD Group, in October 2008 the mid-range model of the MacBook was the single best-selling laptop of any brand in U.S. retail stores for the preceding five months. Despite its success, the next generation MacBook Air could be the beginning of the end for the MacBook. Many overlapping factors between the two laptops suggest it is.
Let’s take a look at the facts:
Price Point – Both laptops have a $999 base price. When shopping in the education store the MacBook Air is $949 whereas the MacBook is $899. Fifty bucks when spending almost $1000 is hardly a major deciding factor. Besides, both computers qualify for $100 Student Mac App Store promotion.
Hardware – Both currently still use Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Both come standard with 2GB of RAM. The MacBook does still sport a SuperDrive but with the Mac App Store, thumb drive costs, an external drive works when necessary, and the fact the Lion is being solely distributed digitally this is only a minor plus for the MacBook. It is rumored that the new MacBook Air will be equipped with at least an Intel i5 and possibly offer an upgrade to the i7 which will boast better integrated graphics, as well as a more energy efficient design. Also depending on the chip, you might have a 4 core chip while the core 2 duo is only 2 cores. The i5 is clearly a better choice. Let’s face it the MacBook Air is just a cooler design. The battery life is about the same but you can leave the Air in “standby mode” instead of turning it off and on for up to 30 days.
Sandbagging – Apple’s seemingly deliberate delay in distribution as to co-launch the next generation MacBook Air and OS X Lion suggests that the new model will be somehow optimized for running the new operating system.
Is the MacBook dead? Only time will tell, but Apple is a very business savvy company who knows how to market and knows when they are unnecessarily competing against themselves. Having separate production lines as well as design teams for two very similar products just isn’t good business and Apple knows business.