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Apple Messed Up on the MacBook Air Again

Illustration for article titled Apple Messed Up on the MacBook Air Again

For years Apple's MacBook Air has languished in partial obsolescence—a great laptop with fantastic battery life and a quizzically outdated screen. 1440 x 900 is a pitifully small resolution for modern times. Sadly, the company hasn't learned its lesson: the 2015 MacBook Air refresh has the same, outdated display as it has for years. What a disappointment.

It's hard to be too upset—the humble MacBook Air now has to live in the shadow of a "normal" MacBook that's even thinner, promises the same ballpark of all-day battery life and has a 2304 x 1440 retina display. With something like that around, what's the point in buying a MacBook Air? Well, oddly, the answer is power: the refreshed 2015 Air now has 5th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Thunderbolt 2 and updated flash storage for faster data transfer.

This puts the MacBook Air in a weird place. Yesterday it was the machine you went to if you wanted to trade battery life for power and resolution. Today it's the machine you go to if you want to trade screen resolution for a more powerful CPU. With Apple injecting similar upgrades in its regular MacBook Pro line, its made the Air the machine in the Middle. Is that weird? That's weird.

The refreshed MacBook Air will be available later today, starting at $900.


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It's also cheaper, keeping Apple's trend of making cheaper, older products as low-cost entry points. Apple knows their biggest asset is their customer loyalty. People who buy Macs and Apple products tend to stay with them. So if someone buys a $800 MacBook Air, someday they might spend more to get the better screen. Either way, Apple wins.

As a consumer, I hate it, like the 16 GB iPhone. However, as a business, it's a smart move and it's hard to fault them for it.