During this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple not only announced the next generation of Apple Silicon in the M2 chip but also announced the first products to ship with the technology, namely the MacBook Air and consumer-focused MacBook Pro.
Curiously 2020’s MacBook Air, which debuted Apple Silicon with the M1 chip, remains in the portfolio. Why keep the original Apple Silicon MacBook Air in the range?
Because it increases Apple’s revenue while the MacBook Air still “starts from $999.”
One of the considerations must be the supply chain. Sourcing the latest technology requires more expensive components that will naturally be in shorter supply no matter the prevailing economic conditions. Conditions that are not rosy at all. Apple’s MacBook range remains in short supply, and for those looking for “just a laptop” then the M1 MacBook Air is going to both meet their needs and be easier to source.
Secondly, it still delivers. Putting aside that Apple is still relying on a near five-year-old design language with a tired choice of I/O ports and a display dominated by bezels. the performance of the M1 chipset in the MacBook Air is still a standout feature two years later.
Given Apple’s propensity to keep older iPhones in stock to keep the visible entry price as low as possible while new technology drives the starting price of the new handsets higher, it’s a surprise that Apple has not taken this approach with the MacBook previously… although the move from Intel to Apple Silicon mixing up the portfolio likely kept the focus on “business as usual” rather than tweaking the business model. Now that the former is the usual, the later can be addressed.
More importantly for Apple’s bottom line, it has allowed Tim Cook and his team to break away from launching the new MacBook Air at the traditional price of $999.
The pricey power premium over the Intel-based models added to the M1 Pro and M1 Max powered 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro has made the jump to the Air. When it was launched in 2020, the M1-powered MacBook Air continued to offer the key highlights of Apple’s macOS technology with that pricey but comforting $999 sticker price. That’s no longer the case.
Those hoping for either an end of line discount on the M1 MacBook Air or a more powerful entry-level macOS laptop as the M1 MacBook Air was replaced, will be disappointed. No matter what you are looking for in a new MacBook Air, Apple has made it more expensive than many expected.
Well played, Tim Cook. Well played.