Updated March 28th: article originally posted March 25th.
Apple is preparing to launch the next MacBook laptops at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference. With new technology, updated hardware, and the next version of macOS, many will be rightly excited about a new MacBook Air.
Apple’s decision to launch the MacBook Air should provide another benefit for consumers.
Update: Monday March 27th: The decision around the next MacBook update will come at WWDC. Therefore any planning around buying a new MacBook needs one crucial piece of information. When is WWDC?
For that, we need to wait for Apple to announce WWDC itself. So when will the announcement of the event where the announcement will take place happen? Chance Miller has been looking through the calendars of previous WWDC events to get an idea:
“This tells us that Apple is likely to announce WWDC 2023 as soon as next week. The company generally makes the announcement via its developer website and via a press release posted on Apple Newsroom.”
Update: Tuesday March 28th: Apple has announced the general availability of macOS Ventura 13.3, an update to its desk-bound operating system. Arguably the most important update in these OS updates are the security patches. Keeping your system secure is vital, whether you are a personal user, a producer, or using your hardware in a work environment.
WWDC will see the launch of the fourteenth version of macOS. While we still don’t know which small Californian town it will be named after, we do know that it’s going to be available to older Mac machines, including the MacBook Air M1 and M2. Version 13 of macOS supports 2018’s MacBook Air and 2017’s MacBook Pro. It would be fair to say that Apple has a history of supporting its hardware for many years.
It’s probably safe to agree that the older MacBook Air M2 is going to continue to be supported for five years at a minimum, which would mean a secure laptop with regular updates until at least 2027, and potentially out to early 2029. That’s a solid guarantee of support for any MacBook Air M2 purchased in 2023, something that is worth considering when the next MacBook release arrives.
One of the curious features of the launch of the MacBook Air M2 at WWDC last year (beyond the fact that Apple chose to launch hardware at WWDC, something that is not as frequent as you might think), was the price point. Throughout the last years of the Intel-powered MacBooks, the Air would be the entry-level model starting at $999. When the new model arrived, the old model fell by the wayside and the newer hardware took its place at the $999 point.
That’s one of the big reasons why people were loathe to buy a new MacBook near the major events, why spend the money on nearly two-year old technology when it was about to be replaced?
And it looks like the same is about to happen again.
The upcoming WWDC 2023 may focus heavily on Tim Cook’s new frontier of AR and VR with the launch of RealityOS and in all likelihood, a rather expensive ‘concept’ headset, but the annual reveal of the updated operating systems and new Apple Silicon chipsets will be part of the conference. This means the Mac platform is going to see the launch of the M3 chipset.
Both historical precedent and details found in many of Apple’s supply chains suggest that the same pattern will happen this year, with an M3-powered MacBook Air leading the mobile charge, an inexplicable M3 MacBook Pro for people who want the same laptop but with the word ‘Pro’ on the chassis, and a desk-bound Mac Mini.
That leads to an interesting discussion on price. I can’t realistically see Apple lifting the price of the first MacBook Air M3 by another $200 on top of the existing MacBook Air M2; that premium is likely reserved for the 15-inch MacBook Air many are hoping for. Assuming Taniyama-Shimura, Apple is going to slot the Air M3 at the existing $1199 price point. If that’s the case, then the Air M2 cascades down to the psychologically cute $999 price tag (and the Air M1 reaches the end of the line).
Yes, Apple Silicon delivers an immense amount of power at the top end of the Mac portfolio – even though we have still to see an Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro. Apple Silicon also delivers more than enough power in day-to-day use at the lower end of the market. The MacBook Air may be the first step on the ladder, but it has far fewer compromises than the previous Intel-based models.
Now Apple is set to make the MacBook Air M2 model the entry-level machine. That’s twenty percent more power than the Air M1, for $200 less than the current sticker price.
The decisions by Tim Cook and his team to push its hardware towards the bleeding edge, have redefined what it means to be a high-end Mac. Those decisions have also meant that the lower-specced MacBooks have more potential than at any point in Apple’s storied history.
Now read the latest Mac, iPhone, and iPad headlines in Forbes weekly ‘Apple Loop’ column…