Why Apple Needs To Update The MacBook Air
When Apple launched the 12" MacBook a year and a half ago many took it as a sign that the MacBook Air was reaching the end of its shelf life and would disappear from Apple's product catalogue in the not too distant future.
Those same people are expressing surprise over rumours of an incoming MBA update, and they're wrong to, because it betrays a misunderstanding of the way that Tim Cook's Apple does business.
The MacBook Air is far and away the cheapest Apple laptop available today. Yes the iPad Pro is a cheaper option, but outside of Apple and a handful of tech bloggers with wildly divergent use cases, there is no one who really believes that an iPad Pro can substitute for a real computer.
As the cheapest Apple laptop on the market there are some compromises - a lower resolution screen for example - yet it's still a significantly more expensive machine than directly comparable Windows laptops.
Which entirely explains its presence on Apple's roster. A machine that maintains Apple's aspirational position in the market whilst still being a capable and premium machine. For buyers whose first experience of Apple has been their iPhone it's a way for Apple to gently ease them further into its ecosystem, with the expectation that the more Apple devices a customer has, the more they are likely to desire.
With hardware sales under pressure it would unwise of Apple to raise the bar to Mac computing by somewhere around 50%, which means the MacBook Air stays and will continue to receive refreshes to keep it competent amongst its peers.
I'm not expecting any major changes to the MBA, or at least not until Apple figures out a way to reduce the build cost whilst retaining the premium build and pricing, but don't expect the MBA to be going anywhere just yet.