9to5Mac leaked information on the long rumored 12" MacBook Air yesterday. It caused some fuzz online with people arguing pro and against.
The main reason for this is that this machine is quite a radical new approach to Apple's classic MacBook line up: fewer ports, smaller and it looses some key features like MagSafe.
I think most people were hoping that Apple would just give the existing Air a retina display and be done with it. But when you give the Air a retina display you would also need to give it a better graphics card to drive that screen, which means a higher power draw so a bigger battery. Follow this train of thoughts and the Air turns basically into a MacBook Pro.
What they did here is rethink the Air from a post-PC standpoint. The main features that make the current Air such an awesome machine is portability, battery live and the fact that even the 11" model gives you the full OS X experience on the road.
Apple already has another great device to work away from the office. It has a 9" screen, runs iOS, has a lightning port for power and accessories and an headphone jack to listen to movies or music while traveling. Combined with a detachable keyboard and it's a pretty powerful machine.
But suppose you really need OS X for some specific software but also want it to be portable.. Replace detachable with attached, lightning with USB and iOS with OS X and voila, it's basically the new MacBook Air.
I see this machine really as what an iPad would look like if it would run OS X. Not some weird hybrid like a Surface but a machine that gives you the real OS X on the road.
I also found it weird that people reacted so adversely to the lack of ports. An iPad has only one port and nobody complains about that. In an era where everything lives online I think such a machine can really work for a certain group of people. People who AirPlay presentations, whose files sync across Dropbox and iCloud, who take photos with an iPhone and sync them with iCloud Photo Library. Well, basically those people who can be productive on an iPad but prefer or need OS X.
From another point of view I find this to be a very weird move. Since this is basically an iPad running OS X, should we be worried about the iPad? Why push OS X to such a mobile device instead of doubling down on the iPad and improve its shortcomings? I mean, the iPad as a device is awesome, but iOS still lacks some polish on the iPad.
Is it because Apple is a hardware company? A company that knows how to create awesome hardware? Is it easier for them to push OS X to a mobile device than to improve iOS?
I'm really curious on how Apple will advertise this machine upon launch. Will they place it next to the iPad on a slide? Or will they ignore the iPad and push the Air as a truly mobile solution for OS X?
One things for sure, I'll miss the safety of Magsafe.