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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Is the New MacBook Air Too Expensive?

Yesterday was a busy day, but Apple managed to keep things pretty upbeat as it unveiled a variety of new devices, with at least one of them reinvigorating one of the age-old Apple questions.

The company announced the new iPad Pro lineup, a new Apple Pencil, a new Mac mini, and also made a lot of people clap when they unveiled the newest MacBook Air. Sure, the brand itself is probably enough to get people excited, especially when you add “new” in front of it. But it looks like Apple hit all the right marks to actually justify a new MacBook Air’s existence.

And then there’s the price.

Maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising, but the new MacBook Air –with its brand new Retina display, the Touch ID sensor, and upgraded specs– isn’t cheap. It’s being marked as Apple’s entry-level computer, but it’s probably worth noting that the company is still offering up the last-generation MacBook Air with its big bezels and BB (Before Butterfly) keyboard. And considering that older model is still retailing for $999 (which seems odd, too), that “entry-level” new MacBook Air starting at $1,199 doesn’t feel so entry-level anymore.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, boasted that over half of folks buying Macs are new buyers, jumping onto the macOS train for the first time. That’s an impressive number! And I’m sure the company thinks its brand new MacBook Air will only spur that number a bit, making it even more impressive in the future. But that price tag may be a bit of a barrier, especially considering there are a lot of different Windows-based devices out there, with comparable specs –and sometimes even better, depending on what you’re looking for– that cost less.

The hope of a new MacBook Air having a $999 price tag was just that: hope. It doesn’t necessarily mean it was impossible, but this is Apple and . . . things aren’t cheap? Even the iPhone XR, what’s considered the “cheap iPhone” these days starts at $749. And that’s not bad! For Apple. I also think it could be possible for that phone to start at $549 and the company would see even more fly off the shelves.

But! The new MacBook Air. I’ve seen people point out that the competition’s pricing is more aggressive, and those folks aren’t wrong. I’ve also seen people keep pointing out that the new MacBook Air doesn’t have a touchscreen and those Windows devices do. I don’t understand why this is still an argument, really. If you want to use macOS then you know you aren’t using a touchscreen, right? That’s just how it is, and I don’t think Apple should be dinged for this anymore. Just having a touchscreen on a laptop doesn’t inherently make it better than one without.

Unless you really want a touchscreen on your laptop, and then you’ll be using Windows, so the price of the new MacBook Air is irrelevant anyway.

I am curious how the price point for the new MacBook Air is going to play into folks who are upgrading. In my case, I’m going to be trading in the MacBook from 2016 to pick up the new MacBook Air. Probably. I honestly haven’t decided yet. But if I do go that route than the price goes down quite a bit, which is nice.

Even if I wasn’t trading in a computer to get the new one, though, I think I’d still be considering the change. Even if the new MacBook Air is rocking an Intel Y-series processor under the hood, that will be more than good enough for me and my work load. I need a new keyboard, too, and I want that bigger display. So I’d probably be switching to the new MBA anyway.

But, how do you feel about the 2018 MacBook Air’s pricing? Do you think Apple is pricing it out of range for most potential new buyers or upgraders? Would you consider switching to Windows to save some money (and get that touchscreen!)? Or maybe we should all just switch to the iPad Pro and finally accept the tablet that replaces our laptop.

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