A number of blogs are reporting on the possibility that Apple might be working on a new, 15-inch model MacBook Air.
The news is based on reports from the hit-and-miss Chinese blog Apple.pro. Apple.pro’s track record, as described by AppleInsider, puts their accuracy in predicting new products at around 50 percent, which is actually fairly high when you look at it in the context of the wider Apple news and rumor community. Leading up to the October Apple notebook event, they produced both real, and fake photos and videos of the aluminum unibody MacBooks, indicating that at least some of their sources are dependable.
So far, the details of the new MacBook Air model they believe to be in the works are limited at best. They seem not to be even sure that the 15-inch size is accurate, just that the new models will be larger than the existing ones. They also claim the machine will use Intel “Core 2″ processors, which again, isn’t really saying much. They do, however, promise more information to come in the future.
The MacBook Air currently offered by Apple is very much a niche product. It trades power for enhanced portability, and I honestly believe that it appeals to consumers more as a status symbol than anything else. A larger model would obviously increase the device’s footprint, taking away some of its appeal as an ultra-portable device. It would also boost power requirements, which could be offset if Apple uses their new battery design, which would actually add good functional advantage to the new model. Still, anyone who would really value the extra screen real estate would also probably want a better performer, and go for the MacBook Pro.
I think that if Apple is genuinely planning a new, larger model of MacBook Air, regardless of the new features they introduce (better battery, optical drive, etc.), they would be in danger of proving themselves drastically out of touch with the market. It would be like Chrysler or GM putting their money into developing luxury pick-up trucks in today’s automotive climate.
I know Apple has based their success to date on being an uncompromising, high-end brand, but it’s time to look at the numbers and realize who’s taking huge chunks out of your market share. That’s Acer, on the strength of their netbooks. You’re not going to win back those customers by releasing boutique laptops with $1800+ price tags, no matter how much more that might be in keeping with your brand image.