Let’s talk about the new, 12-inch MacBook Air. Typically, I don’t comment on speculation but 9to5mac seems confident about their information. Anyway, this isn’t about the MacBook Air per se and more on how Apple is still willing to take big risks — which is fantastic — and about their view on computing.
Here’s the quick rundown on those MacBook Air rumors:
- 12-inch display in an extremely compact design
- One USB Type-C port, one headphone port and…that’s it for ports
- Smaller than standard keyboard
- Trackpad has no mechanical key
The Type-C port, in addition to its typical USB functionality, is also capable of powering the laptop and driving displays. The thinking is that one port will be used for all those things and via hub when needed.
This is a risky design. The Type-C port will break easy compatibility with accessories, similar to the lightning port for iPhone and iPad, and will surely piss some people off. The smaller keyboard may annoy Apple lifers. Removing the mechanical key on the trackpad means the likelihood that a touch is misinterpreted as a tap is higher.
So why do it?
This goes back to Apple’s view on what the MacBook Air is for. The MacBook Air is meant to be the most mobile productivity device ever, and for people who value portability above power and still want to get work done. The new MacBook Air doubles down on that approach.
The unconventional changes might annoy some, but on the whole, the lighter form factor will make the MacBook Air more appealing to its target market.
I love it. The new Air breaks industry convention — the very same that Apple set — yet comes closer to Apple’s vision for portable computing.
It’s also ballsy because, more than ever, the MacBook Air will directly compete with the iPad. Its size and weight is becoming more tablet-like. What would people buy: a portable consumption only device, or a portable consumption and productivity device that’s only marginally bigger and heavier?
Apple deserves applause for ignoring potential cannibalization and putting both on the market for customers to choose.
What would be even better is if Apple took one step further and made a keyboard accessory for the iPad that doubles as a cover. That would be the true test of whether laptops and tablets have finally converged.