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Apple’s Surprising MacBook Air Decision

With Apple paying a bit more attention to MacOS now that the transition to ARM is under way, details on the new Mac hardware are coming out, and there are some interesting moves coming up in the next year.

Apple Holds Launch Event In Brooklyn

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 30: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple unveils a new MacBook Air during a launch event at … [+] the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 30, 2018 in New York City. This is Apple’s first full upgrade of the laptop in three years. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Extensive details on the updated hardware plans come from J Glenn Kunzler at SonnyDickson.com, and focus on the benefits of ARM:

“It’s like this: even at this early stage, Apple already knows with certainty that their existing A12Z chip (or a lightly tweaked modification thereof) works brilliantly as a Mac Mini. The first benchmarks we know of on their Developer Transition Kit already shows impressive performance, even running under Rosetta rather than natively on the machine.”

One expected change at front of house is the MacBook Air. Apple’s once revolutionary laptop is going to end with Intel.

Apple’s move away from Intel is driven by many small advantages, not least the tighter integration between software and hardware. ARM has previously been seen as a lacking the grunt of Intel. With the Windows 10 on ARM powered Surface Pro X from Microsoft, it’s clear that a pivot point has been reached, and ARM architecture can match the x86 platform favored by Intel.

And the initial benchmarking of Apple’s ARM-powered Mac Mini development kit show it beating the aforementioned Surface Pro X, and offering similar performance to low- and mid-ranged Intel hardware. Which brings the MacBook Air into sharp focus on the chopping block.

2019 Apple MacBook Air

Detail of a 2019 MacBook Air laptop computer, taken on July 23, 2019. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future … [+] Publishing via Getty Images)

Future Publishing via Getty Images

As many have noted, the designs of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air machines launched earlier this year are incredibly similar. There are differences in terms of the chipsets so the MacBook Air is a little bit down on power compared to the more expensive Pro machine, but if you blurred the names Apple has its classic ‘good/better/best’ triplet with the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro with 8th generation Intel, and the MacBook Pro with 10th generation Intel.

Do you still need ‘Air’ identifier? Kunzler once more:

…what we’ve heard, and which, again, makes a huge amount of sense, is that Apple, going forward, will offer only a single line of notebooks, which will simply be called “The New MacBook”, or just “MacBook”.”

The recent use of a standalone ‘MacBook’ in the MacOS laptop range was for the eponymous lightweight and fan-less computer, a retina display, and a smaller footprint to the MacBook Air. Now look again at those ARM advantages. Powerful chips suitable for a mid-ranged laptop… less cooling required… more efficient use of power to extend battery life.

It ticks all the boxed. And from the marketing point o view Apple needs a strong statement of intent that MacOS and the MacBook will thrive under the ARM brands. Leaving behind the ‘Air’ to represent the historic lightweight Intel, and moving forwards with the monolithic ‘MacBook’ for the future is the strong statement needed.

Now read how MacOS on ARM is driving Windows 10 forwards….

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