Updated March 5th: article originally posted March 4th.
The launch of the M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pro, joining the M2 MacBook Air, completed the macOS laptop portfolio, moving up from the M1 to the M2 architecture. Those looking for something larger have no choice but to move up to the MacBook Pro, even if they don’t need the excess power and performance in the Pro laptops.
That’s set to change as Apple prepares a better option for consumers than the MacBook Pro.
Update: Sunday March 5th: Writing for Bloomberg’s Power On newsletter, Mark Gurman highlights the debate that is still going on within Apple. Should the next MacBook Air stick with the M2 chipset and allow the larger display to be the key selling point, or should it follow precedent and also bundle a more expensive Apple Silicon:
“But the chip destined for the new MacBook Air models is slightly less clear. If those machines launch in a few months with the M2 chip, they’ll quickly become outdated. A 15-inch MacBook Air with an M2 chip may still excite consumers, but a new M2 13-inch MacBook Air is unlikely to be compelling.”
The chip choice feels like the old days of the MacBook when the option for a larger display was only available if you purchased a machine with more power. Will Apple continue this and push the price up on the new MacBook Air because of the chipset choice?
Back in the Intel days, there was a natural hierarchy in the MacBook portfolio. Light and thin meant less processing power but more convenience. That was the place of the MacBook Air. As you demanded more power, you claimed up the portfolio to the MacBook Pro, larger, bulkier, with better thermal options, and of course, more expensive.
Apple Silicon upended all that. The launch of the M1-powered MacBook Air offered more power than the Intel MacBook Pro of the day by a noticeable margin. The prosumer level of Mac owner no longer had to lean into the bigger and more expensive laptops, because the MacBook Air had more than enough for the amount of rendering and software development needed by the keen amateur or the small business owner.
As for the MacBook Pro, the M1 Pro and M1 Max pushed the performance envelope higher, and the M2 Pro and M2 Max built on that. The Pro laptops have power and performance akin to a workstation. While some will continue to buy the MacBook Pro because of the status of the “Pro” name (and perhaps old habits from the Intel days), those that genuinely need the MacBook Pro are a smaller part of the addressable MacBook audience.
The launch of the next-generation M2 chipset increased the flexibility of the MacBook Air to a level not seen before. In a moment, the MacBook Air became fit for purpose for countless users (the less said about the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 the better).
All that’s missing from this mix is something that Apple’s faithful macOS users have been asking for many times over… a MacBook Air with a larger display to match the options available on Windows-powered hardware.
The long-hoped-for larger Air is on its way. Displays have been ordered, certifications have been sought, and the production lines have started. At some point over the next few months – in all likelihood, before the Augmented Reality fest that will be WWDC 2023 – Apple will deliver a 15-inch MacBook Air with power that would rival the fastest and most expensive MacBook Pro from the Intel days of old.
It will hit the sweet spot of performance, size, and price. This is the laptop you’ve been waiting for.
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