17 Comments

Summary:

AppleInsider’s Kasper Jade today reports that Apple has new plans for its workhorse laptop, the MacBook. This will be the first time since the product’s launch in 2006 that the company’s entry-level Mac has received a complete design update. The MacBook is the best-selling computer in […]

macbook_whiteAppleInsider’s Kasper Jade today reports that Apple has new plans for its workhorse laptop, the MacBook. This will be the first time since the product’s launch in 2006 that the company’s entry-level Mac has received a complete design update.

The MacBook is the best-selling computer in the history of the company. It introduced many of the features we take for granted in today’s high-end MacBook Pro machines. The MagSafe connector and latchless lids might be expected of Apple’s laptops these days, but they originally debuted in the diminutive MacBooks more than three years ago.

The report claims that the MacBooks were slated to be discontinued, but that at a redesign the company will “solidify them at the base of the Mac maker’s notebook offerings for the foreseeable future.”

There is no news as to what the redesigned MacBook might look like, but if Apple is to position the machine as a low-cost, entry-level device while keeping it distinct enough from its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin, it seems unlikely it will be made using the same unibody extrusion process.

A carbon fiber composite would make sense, given this 2006 patent application filed by Apple. It describes a method for producing a carbon fiber composite used as an exterior shell for electronic devices. Of particular note is mention of a “scrim” layer designed to improve the cosmetic finish of the material.

Furthermore, there was talk last year of Apple planning to replace at least part of the MacBook Air’s aircraft-grade aluminum body — specifically, the bottom cover — with the tough-but-light carbon fiber material. While the latest updates to the Air continue to use an all-aluminum body, it is conceivable the carbon fiber plans will see the light of day in the new MacBook.

As for the refreshed internals, there’s only speculation, guided by the assumption Apple will want to position the new MacBook as an affordable (read “cheap”) machine:

Apple is expected to achieve these markdowns through largely existing tactics, such as using lower-end components and previous-generation Core 2 Duo chips and architectures from Intel Corp. Battery life should receive a boost from cutting-edge technology that recently found its way into the company’s other notebook offerings, while high-end legacy features like FireWire connectivity are likely to be sacrificed in the tradeoff.

[Apple] toyed with the prospect of throwing an Intel Atom processor into the existing white MacBook enclosure as [an] interim solution aimed at delivering a low-cost Mac portable for those consumers eying a Mac but hit hard by the recession.

Interestingly, Jade explains that this idea was dropped earlier in the year right around the time when Apple “solidified the forthcoming Newton web tablet for a first-quarter 2010 rollout”.

If Apple prices the new MacBook around the same $999 mark as the current machine — which it most probably will — what will that mean for the price of the tablet? Whatever the outcome, it sounds as though Apple has a clearly defined product/feature differentiation in mind for these devices, despite their similar price points.

It’s all just speculation, of course. But it’s nice to see that Apple is potentially breathing new life into an old and trusted friend.

  1. Interesting to see this… as i’m considering picking up a new laptop…. Might have to wait a little longer to see what they come out with… I don’t have any problem going with a lower end machine, so long as the screen is at least 13″.

    Share
  2. The MagSafe connector debuted with the first generation MacBook Pros six months before the MacBooks were released.

    Share
    1. My bad. Thanks for the correction Brian :-)

      Share
      1. Latchless lids were introduced with the original iBook

        Share
  3. I’ve always quite fancied a Mac Book. More so now my wife has taken over the iMac. Will wait and see what they come up with.

    TSR.

    Share
    1. Me too. Very interested to see how these turn out.

      That said, I don’t *need* a MacBook. But I want one. It just seems like such a handy machine.

      Same goes for the 13 inch MacBook Pro. I don’t need one of those, either, but hey… doesn’t stop me thinking it would be nice :-)

      My other half has appropriated my MacBook Air, so I guess I can come up with an excuse for buying one! But there’s always that tablet just around the corner…

      Damn, Apple REALLY knows how to make us part with the cash, right?!

      Share
  4. I’m going to be replacing my 1st Gen Whitebook in the next month or so. I’m leaning towards the 13″ pro, but I’m also giving thought to the Whitebook again. The way I see it, the advantage to the Pro is the 7 hour battery and up to 8g of ram.

    Share
  5. oh crap…. I was hoping to buy a macbook this fall so I didn’t have to be tied to my iMac in the office but now I feel like I should wait.

    Share
  6. Why does the price point have to stay at $999 if it’s (rumored) to be a low cost solution? Is it really worth the r&d and all the other expenses just to release a lower power version at the same price? And if it is lower powered, then only $200 between this model and a unibody pro seems like too little of a price distinction, considering the specs on the current MacBook compare well with the unibody pro.

    Maybe this is Apple’s chance to develop and release their version of a netbook. I don’t think that has to mean a sub $500, 10 inch screen. But what about a $799 version and a $999 version of a MacBook, under 4 pounds, and minus the optical media drive. That $999 version can compare spec-wise to the current MacBook, but the $799 version can use the older or lower end parts. And maybe, just maybe, that $799 version is finally the 12 inch PowerBook replacement of which so many have dreamed. But even if it’s not a 12 inch, I think the general idea is valid.

    Share
  7. THANK GOD you got it. We found the ominous “tablet” which is none, because they don’t have an OS for a tablet bigger than the iPone.

    Share
  8. Carbon fiber is a fairly expensive replacement for plastic.

    Just sayin’.

    Share
  9. [...] is all alone in that little quadrant, being lame. Surely Apple has something up their sleeve? The Apple Blog has heard some rumours regarding a MacBook [...]

    Share
  10. personaly i dont trust the macbook air for one reason and one reason only.
    it has a solid state hard drive, if u drop it its probably going to break. but making it out of carbon-fiber would be a good idea. i think it can withstand a larger impact than aluminum

    Share
    1. “it has a solid state hard drive, if u drop it its probably going to break.”

      Uh…no. SSDs don’t break when you drop them, or at least they’re a lot less likely to than with a traditional mechanical disk. They also have much faster seek times, which means better performance when you’re doing a lot of disk reads. However, SSDs are still a fairly new technology and the overall life of the drive is largely unknown. They have a finite amount of times that they can be written to before sectors stop functioning properly.

      Also, you can buy a MacBook Air with a traditional hard drive instead of an SSD: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_air

      Share

Comments have been disabled for this post