new MacBook silver gold space gray

There were very few surprises at the event Apple held yesterday to officially launch Apple Watch. Thanks to accurate leaks and rumors from the past several weeks, we were confident Apple was going to unveil a new notebook, which we all called the 12-inch MacBook Air until then. If the actual product announced wasn’t much of a surprise, its name turned out to be what really took me off guard, because I expected a new MacBook Air, not a new MacBook.

It’s all semantics, you might think, but we all know nothing is just semantics with Apple. Everything the company does, every product denomination has a clear purpose. So, the new MacBook.

When I hear MacBook, I think about the white plastic polycarbonate model. This MacBook was the entry level Apple laptop, the cheapest Apple notebook money could buy at the time. When it was dropped from Apple’s lineup in July 2011, it was seemingly replaced by the 11-inch MacBook Air which took over as the entry level Apple notebook.

The Apple laptop lineup was then pretty simple: you had MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, all coming in different specs. MacBook Air was the most affordable machine starting at only $999 (then dropped to $899), while MacBook Pro was the most specced up one.

Fast forward to yesterday’s event, and we now have the MacBook making a comeback in the lineup, but what was once known as the entry level machine, is now the mid-range one. Confused? Yes, me too.

What confuses me even more is that the new MacBook is technically “more air” than the actual MacBook Air. It’s smaller, thinner, lighter. With the new MacBook’s specs aside, it is in essence what you would expect from a mid-range machine, sitting between MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.

But a look at Apple’s website quickly demonstrates that the company positions it as the entry level. As you can see on this image, the new MacBook is to the very far left, followed by MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.

MacBook lineup

Again, why is a newer machine so advanced in terms of design and engineering sitting at the entry of the lineup? I’m confused.

Now if you look closely at the tech specs of the new MacBook, you’ll quickly realize this is not so much a powerful machine, but rather one that makes a step back in terms of expandability, offering a largely underwhelming processor. Maybe not surprisingly, this is pretty much how we all felt about the original MacBook Air when it was first unveiled in 2008: a feast of design and engineering with performances inherently crippled by the same design and engineering that make it so amazing.

The only thought that allows me to put an end to my confusion is that eventually, Apple will drop the MacBook Air line up entirely, and replace it with different variations of the new MacBook. You’d have for example, a 12-inch, and a 13-inch MacBook. And you’d have your MacBook Pro lineup.

It’s of course too early for that. Apple needs an entry level notebook (the $899 MacBook Air) and the new MacBook just can’t compete on price at this time. But as time goes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see MacBook Air disappear and be replaced with what we today call the new MacBook. By then, this machine will be declined in several sizes, with prices starting as low as $899 and offering performances more on par with today’s standards. That could be a few years away though.

Apple has obviously thought about all this, and I’m sure there is a grand master plan that will eventually unfold and make sense to everybody. Until then, I’ll remain a bit confused about the MacBook lineup.

  • Newgunnerr

    Too bad the new macbooks dont have the apple logo lighting up 🙁

    Still love my 2014 macbook pro 13inch

    • You’re right. I just noticed however that I never look at my own logo when its on.

      • mike

        when you put a case on it you can show off that its a macbook pro. When you put a case on this one you won’t be able to tell. Like if I buy a BMW i want that logo in front of the car so i can show it off and people will know

      • You can still show off its a macbook with a logo, the logos have been lit for years, I guess they want to move on from that.

    • iPhoneWINS

      my mac book pro retina will be with me for another year and a half at least

    • The Guy

      Yeah, they’ll be getting rid of it entirely on all the macbook’s 🙁

      It’s one of those things that made it stand out, whats happening to Apple.

      • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

        it means you have to grow up. Youre not 13 anymore to show off a glowing logo. Do you wear those sneakers which glow as you walk, btw? if you do, my sympathies.

      • The Guy

        Trying to tell someone to like something just because you like it is what we call ignorance. It’s a product and customers can have what they want or they lose that base, now grow up boy and troll somewhere else.

  • ReUp

    These days when i think of Apple i feel like they are confused. I imagine a circle and Apple is the centre of the circle and every refresh a new line is drawn from the centre to a random direction when really it should be a straight line getting longer continuously to show growth and technological advancement but instead it looks more like a huge mess from the naming schemes, to the products available each year. It’s a bit like Nintendo and the DS. A mess. They went from big Original DS to smaller compact DS to 3DS to XL DS to 2DS. A complete mess.

    • Juschan

      it is a straight line … in the design section. i think they realised design is more sellable than specs, thats also what samsung just missed haha

    • iPhoneWINS

      apple is so rich and successful that they are struggling to maintain focus.. they don’t need focus its like that are just having fun now

  • Guest

    Apple will probably just get get rid of the Air and Pro names and will probably in 2 years have the new Macbook in a 12 inch and 15 inch size

  • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

    I think Macbook air will be discontinued soon and the Macbook will take its place. Ipod touch is replaced by Apple watch and Apple tv will be replaced by another Apple device with gesture capable sensor array tv box.

    • Juschan

      i don´t know but i think the apple watch and the ipod touch are designed for completely different customers so i think the iphone is more and more in place of the ipod

  • therealjjohnson

    Why does it matter what its “considered as” or where its pictured on the website. Options are there. Buy what you like.

  • Adrayven

    They did this with the MBA and rMBP. this fall will show more of Apple’s intended path.

  • iPhoneWINS

    mac book pro is all i use don’t care about those low end poser machines at all

  • hhumbert

    I had a rager for the Macbook 12″, but after seeing the CPU choice, I’m out. I’m getting a new loaded 11″Air.

    My current Air as has Core i7 running at 2GHZ. 8 GB Ram and 256 SSD. Top of the line, and I’ve never felt any “slowness” reported by some Air users. I run Mail.app, native outlook, VMWare running Win8 and Outlook, a Java mind mapping program, Safari, Native Powerpoint, Native Word, and the machine never slows down. It’s a 2012.5. Wonderful.

    I don’t want to suffer the performance hit with the Macbook 12″. Too bad, because that retina display sure does look purty.

    • Tim

      The processor in the new Macbook isn’t a slow processor at all. The Intel core M is bundled with HD Graphics 5300 which is better than any dedicated graphics in existing Macbook Airs right now. It also turbo boost up to 2.9GHz if need be so it has plenty of raw power.

      • Beta382

        2.9GHz with turbo boost is an absolute joke. The laptop I’m typing on right now is two years old, was about the same price as the new MacBook when I bought it, and has a processor that runs at 2.8GHz *normally*, with a turbo boost to 3.8GHz.

        Not to mention that turbo boost is only usable in small bursts, especially since the MacBook lacks fans.

        The processor in the new MacBook is hideously anemic. Hopefully future iterations will beef up the specs to something respectable.

      • Tim

        Relative to the processors in MacBook Airs the Core M isn’t that bad. Here is a comparison straight from intel between the Core M and Core i5 i520U. www(dot)intel(dot)com/content/www/us/en/benchmarks/two-in-one/core-m-5y70-vs-core-i5-520um(dot)html

      • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

        certainly not anemic when it powers a retina display. Its no mean joke to push that res.

      • Dan

        It will choke if someone tries to run a game at that resolution though

      • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

        Of course it will..thats why theres a big M designation for the processor. It means stay the fock away from anything processor intensive.

      • hhumbert

        Thanks, Tim. Relative to a Core i7 running at 2.2GHZ, the new faster memory, I think that the MB12 is going to be a lot slower than that. I don’t want to compromise on speed. Most of the time, I’ve got my MBA hooked to an external display, so retina display is somewhat, but not totally compelling. Most important to me is consistent performance, portability (but .2 lbs isn’t an issue), and reusing my existing connectors is a bonus, too.

      • Tim

        For your needs it will be too slow, I still can’t get over the fact that it only has one port. That’s a mess when you get hubs and cables.

    • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

      rager = raging boner?

      • hhumbert

        Yep.

  • Dante Arellano

    The logo well for me it’s enough reason to NO BUY IT but if the logo was lighting i sure ill buy it next month with no questions ask but well apple is apple so ill buy it but no as fast apple thinks.

  • Carlos B

    I bought the 2014 15in MacBook pro ($2499 model) an hour before they announced the new MacBooks. Hoping they don’t introduce too many new things to the MacBook Pro, I’m not so worried about the new touchpad feature especially since it’s only for the 13in at this time and won’t be available til April. Wondering if keeping my new MacBook Pro is a good choice or not…

    • Andres

      The new 13 inch MacBook Pro is available now. Ships in 1-3 business days!

      • Carlos B

        Oh I guess it’s just the regular MacBooks that don’t ship till April, did they say anything about upgrading the 15″ models? 13in would be a downgrade for me regardless of features.

      • Andres

        The 15 inch MacBook Pros are not being updated. Just the processors and Force Touch trackpad in the 13 inch model.

        I was originally planning on purchasing a 15 inch MacBook, but I was waiting for Apple to update it with the new processors. I was a little upset yesterday when they didn’t do that. Only on the 13 inch Pro. So I’ve settled on a mid tier 13 inch MBP and I’ll have $500 left over to spend on an Apple Watch with the money I woulve spent on a 15 inch MBP.

  • Andres

    Apple will stop carrying the MacBook Air in a year. Then it’ll be just the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. Makes sense. You want want some more power just get “the Pro”.

  • FFF84

    I’m ok with the name considering that at apple u don’t find names like
    Asus UX303LA-RO262H
    Asus UX303LA-RO340H
    Asus UX301LN
    ………..
    Samsung Galaxy S5 SM-G900F
    Samsung Galaxy S5 G900F
    Samsung Galaxy S5 G905F

  • Vighnesh Manick

    I wish Apple had put in the time to refresh the Macbook Pro rather than make a 12 inch Macbook. I would have bought the Pro straight on the release date then

  • Anthony Antunez

    I really hope they don’t drop the MBA line and instead add these new features to it.