14 Comments

Summary:

Apple’s redesigned MacBook Air is selling very well, having reached 1.1 million units shipped in its first quarter of availability according to analyst estimates. But don’t think that just because Apple’s newest PC is succeeding, its post-PC rhetoric is mere iPad 2 marketing babble.

macbookair-feature1

Apple’s redesigned MacBook Air is selling very well, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via mlm,k), having reached 1.1 million units shipped in its first quarter of availability. That would make the new MacBook Air one of the most successful Mac launches of all time. But don’t think that just because Apple’s newest PC is succeeding, its post-PC rhetoric is mere iPad 2 marketing babble.

The MacBook Air may not be a tablet or a smartphone, but it might actually be more post-PC than any of these other devices, including the iPad. Plus, it stands as the best possible bridge available to help make the transition from PC to post-PC as painless as possible.

Obviously, the MacBook Air has lots of PC in its family tree. It’s a traditional clamshell notebook with a full hardware keyboard that runs OS X. On the other hand, though, it uses all-flash storage, has no built-in optical drive and the vast majority of its hardware design details were dictated by the need for portability, instant on, and battery life. Often, the MacBook Air capably stands in for or excels at tasks for which one might otherwise use a tablet. Colleague Kevin Tofel, for instance, found he was getting less use out of his iPad once he purchased a MacBook Air due to fast boot and wake times as well as the device’s light weight.

Consider also Jobs’ own characterization of how to approach computing in the post-PC era:

[A] lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in and they’re looking at this as the next PC. The hardware and the software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs.

The MacBook Air raised some concern that it might be underpowered when people looked at its stats on paper. After all, it didn’t benefit from any new processor technology. But, as with the iPad, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. I’d say the most common thing I heard from MacBook Air-owning friends and colleagues was that they were surprised at how closely their computing experience resembled the one they’d previously had on more powerful MacBooks. Kevin agrees, having sold a unibody MacBook for the MacBook Air and feeling that he made little, if any, performance compromises in the process.

As with the iPad, the MacBook Air is less about what it’s made up of and more about what you can do with it. That, combined with pricing that seems to have struck a chord with buyers, and put the Air on top of the Mac line in terms of units shipped. Apple sold a total of 2.9 million notebooks last quarter, so the Air took the lion’s share, accounting for 38 percent of that volume. Apple has to be pleased with those numbers, since it means its overall mobile focus really is where consumers are thinking and spending their money.

The MacBook Air is a personal computer, but according to Jobs’ articulation of what constitutes a post-PC device, it fits in much more comfortably with the iPad and the iPhone. If it continues to gain traction among consumers, don’t be surprised if it comes to represent everything the Mac brand stands for. Not a bad vision of the future, if you ask me.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Derek Martin Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Not to rain on your parade or anything, but the MacBook Air is not a post-PC PC. It’s a PC PC. At the event a couple of days ago Steve Jobs specifically listed Apple’s three post-PC devices: the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. The MacBook Air is not on that list. Apple PC = OSX. Apple Post-PC = iOS.

    1. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the title. “How can you have a Post-PC device that is still just a PC, and slow one at that?” I would tend to agree that it is definitely a positive step on the way from a traditional 10lb brick to a light “Star Trek” device. Right now, however, I still feel the Air is too much of a performance compromise compared to the 13 inch Macbook, that the latter is still my machine of choice. Had they put an SD card in the 11 inch Air I might have been tempted to give it a try, but its absence was a deal-breaker on that round. Maybe this year?

    2. As Meatloaf once said… Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    3. I think his point was that it is a PC introduced in the “Post-PC” era and built to compete with Post-PC devices such as iPad.

  2. I disagree with Derek and Martin, above. A very insightful piece. I think the author clearly makes his case for why the MacBook Air is the “post-PC PC”.

  3. I miss mine something awful
    Has a 13 inch basic
    It did everything I asked of it
    Light as a feather, hovered in my lap
    Best Mac I ever owned…

  4. Totally agreeing with you.
    The MacBook Air is the trojan horse of Post PC Pc and a bridge between IOS and OsX

    S.

  5. This is spot on with my experience. I’ve long been a PC guy. I bought my first Mac (Macbook) a few years ago when my PC laptop got stolen. Other than a great out of the box experience, my takeaway was that the macs are completely overrated (it hangs, it crashs, it’s hotter than heck) and vowed I’d never buy another mac even though I was blown away with the other Apple products (iphone, ipod, shuffle). I was just in the market for another portable device. I eliminated the iPad as I view it more as a consumption device and I need to be able to type. I looked hard for a PC that had Macbook Air like attributes and all the PC-based devices fell short. I now have the Macbook Air and love it so far. Fyi, I’m agnostic on tech. In our house, we have 2 PC desktops, a netbook, 2 iphones, and an android (my Droidx that replaced my iPhone).

  6. This is spot on with my experience. I’ve long been a PC guy. I bought my first Mac (Macbook) a few years ago when my PC laptop got stolen. Other than a great out of the box experience, my takeaway was that the macs are completely overrated (it hangs, it crashs, it’s hotter than heck) and vowed I’d never buy another mac even though I was blown away with the other Apple products (iphone, ipod, shuffle). I was just in the market for another portable device. I eliminated the iPad as I view it more as a consumption device and I need to be able to type. I looked hard for a PC that had Macbook Air like attributes and all the PC-based devices fell short. I now have the Macbook Air and love it so far. Fyi, I’m agnostic on tech. In our house, we have 2 PC desktops, a netbook, 2 iphones, and an android (my Droidx that replaced my iPhone).

  7. This is spot on with my experience. I’ve long been a PC guy. I bought my first Mac (Macbook) a few years ago when my PC laptop got stolen. Other than a great out of the box experience, my takeaway was that the macs are completely overrated (it hangs, it crashs, it’s hotter than heck) and vowed I’d never buy another mac even though I was blown away with the other Apple products (iphone, ipod, shuffle). I was just in the market for another portable device. I eliminated the iPad as I view it more as a consumption device and I need to be able to type. I looked hard for a PC that had Macbook Air like attributes and all the PC-based devices fell short. I now have the Macbook Air and love it so far. Fyi, I’m agnostic on tech. In our house, we have 2 PC desktops, a netbook, 2 iphones, and an android (my Droidx that replaced my iPhone).

  8. This is spot on with my experience. I’ve long been a PC guy. I bought my first Mac (Macbook) a few years ago when my PC laptop got stolen. Other than a great out of the box experience, my takeaway was that the macs are completely overrated (it hangs, it crashs, it’s hotter than heck) and vowed I’d never buy another mac even though I was blown away with the other Apple products (iphone, ipod, shuffle). I was just in the market for another portable device. I eliminated the iPad as I view it more as a consumption device and I need to be able to type. I looked hard for a PC that had Macbook Air like attributes and all the PC-based devices fell short. I now have the Macbook Air and love it so far. Fyi, I’m agnostic on tech. In our house, we have 2 PC desktops, a netbook, 2 iphones, and an android (my Droidx that replaced my iPhone).

  9. I Don’t think these numbers prove that much, remember the weak notebook line-up last quarter? The MBP’s/MB’s simply couldn’t match the bang* for buck the MBA’s brought.

    *bang = portability/SSD

  10. No so. The MBA is no different in its basic form from hundreds of millions of laptops. It’s just lighter and thinner than most. The iPhone and iPad were different. The MBA isn’t. It’s simply another stage the long progress in long progression with Compaq portables that weighed about 40 pounds.

    The demand comes, in part, because a lot of people looked at the iPad and said, “I like the light-weight and almost-instant on, but you can’t do much work typing on a glass screen.” The MBA offers the benefits of the iPad without the hassles. It’s only major failing is that the price starts to high. Apple must have raised the price of the low-end model to meet their magic $995 price point.

Comments have been disabled for this post