updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu July 15, 2010
Apple may go to 11in screen, CULV for MacBook Air
Apple is planning a major overhaul of the MacBook Air that could see it competing with budget ultraportable notebooks, a rumor floated by Digitimes Research analyst Mingchi Kuo claims. The system would shrink to an 11.6-inch display and would use ultra-low voltage Core iX processors. In spite of the smaller screen, it would be thinner as well as lighter; the design would be advanced enough that lessons learned from its creation would be rolled into other Macs.
The new Air would be assembled by Quanta and ship sometime in the second half of the year, but shipment expectations hint either that it would only ship late or else would still have its niche status. Just 400,000 unts would arrive this year, Kuo said, without naming his sources.
Analyst claims such as these can have a mixed track record of accuracy, but the mention is the first of a significant design change to the MacBook Air since it was first released in February 2008. The system was billed at the time as providing the size and speed of a full-size notebook but in a much slimmer and lighter frame. Sales have been good enough for Apple to continue offering the system, but larger MacBooks have often outsold the Air.
While inexpensive compared to traditional ultraportables, the $1,499 minimum price hasn't been favorable next to the new crop of systems using Intel's CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) processors, especially those using new Core i3 and i5 versions. While Apple could keep pricing high, the smaller screen and the lower price for reasonable performance could also lead to a price drop.
News of a redesign comes just as Lenovo may be dropping the ThinkPad X300 series. The line was pitched as a Windows alternative to the Air but, at a premium of several hundred dollars or more, it has faced lower demand.
Along with the new Mac, Kuo also claimed knowledge of the next-generation iPod touch. The MP3 player should have at least a three-megapixel camera with both photo and video capture; he didn't mention the front-facing camera but did understand that it would use an A4 processor. The researcher did hear that the iPod would be updated in August or September, consistent with Apple's usual late summer music event.