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Like the '08 Air, new MacBook reveals Apple's intentions

Gregg Keizer | March 18, 2015
Apple's new thinner, lighter and nearly port-less MacBook is a peek at where the Cupertino, Calif. company will take its laptops, an analyst said today.

The experts also bet that the new MacBook would follow the same sales path blazed by the Air, which was initially seen as a prestige product. "They're after the heart of the executive high-end status PC," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research.

To further that, Apple for the first time will offer color choices: The traditional silver, a dark "space gray" and gold. Not coincidentally, those are the same hues used by the iPhone and iPad. "Gold is going to be a big hit in China," Bajarin predicted.

But while the analysts were generally impressed with the MacBook, some were puzzled by its positioning in Apple's portfolio. "I find the nomenclature and SKUing kind of confusing," said Baker. "I'm struggling to understand why the MacBook Air is no longer the lightest [model], and why they felt they needed another line."

Baker had a point: Until last week, the "Air" label had been used for Apple's lightest and thinnest notebooks (and iPad). The "MacBook" nameplate, meanwhile, had been unused since 2011, when it was assigned to the most basic Apple laptop, a plastic-case notebook that sold for a then-rock bottom $999.

"The 'Air' name worked well for Apple. I would have liked to see them extending the name" rather than fall back to the MacBook, said Baker.

Gottheil disagreed, saying that the lineup made sense, including the retention of the "Air' label. "They still want something at the price point of the Air," said Gottheil. "But they don't want to have a cheap 'MacBook.' Because it's one step up from the least expensive, they're segmenting their market and at the same time saying that thin and light rules."

Apple will begin selling the MacBook on April 10. It has not said whether it would take pre-orders before then.


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