New MacBooks this year?

Madeleine Swain
27 March, 2014
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A new report in Digitimes suggests that Apple is preparing to release new MacBook models some time this year. The line-up will purportedly include a MacBook Air with Retina display says the report, citing the usual ‘supply chain sources’ as the origin of the story.

As MacRumors notes, this hasn’t come out of thin air, with a previously reliable commenter posting on a Weiphone.com  [Google Translation] forum last week that the MacBook Air was about to be updated and that new MacBook Pros would be available in September. The following is a summary of the post courtesy of a MacRumors reader:

  • MacBook Air updates are coming soon; MacBook Pro updates won’t occur until September.
  • He discusses a new 12in notebook without fan assembly. It comes with a new trackpad design that doesn’t include the mechanical button, as we do on current MacBooks.
  • An Apple watch device does exist but still in prototype stage, so its announcement won’t come anytime soon.

So one possibility is that, along with the updated Airs and Pros, we can expect a new slimline 12in MacBook, the latter boasting a redesigned trackpad and no fan. But MacRumors suggests that this may not be the case. “The new MacBook Air mentioned in the report and the slim 12in MacBook mentioned in the forum post could be the same laptop, which would fall in line with a report from NPD DisplaySearch last year claiming that Apple is planning to introduce a 12in MacBook Air in 2014.

“That report added that the 12in MacBook Air would come with an ultra-high resolution 2304 x 1440 display, and was corroborated by the reliable Ming-Chi Kuo.”

The report comes amid speculation that some Taiwanese supply chain makers were expecting this year’s shipments of MacBooks to fall – down to 10 million units or even fewer. But other makers are now suggesting the opposite: that the release of a Retina MacBook Air could see numbers actually climb. It should be noted though that in 2012, when Apple released the MacBook Pro with Retina display, the updated machine only resulted in a slight upswing in sales.

For the quarter ending July 2012, Apple’s Mac sales plateaued somewhat, with sales of four million Macs. “The main question was whether or not Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina would pick up declining Mac sales. As you can see from the numbers, it appears that 5.1 million pixels does not a spike in sales make, as this represents only a two percent increase in sales over the year-ago quarter,” wrote TechCrunch at the time.

Sales lifted at the end of the year before slipping again in 2013 as this graph from ZDNet shows:

Image: ZDNet

 

iMac, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air sales continue to make impressive strides, in a year where global PC shipments fell by almost 7%

More recently though, the line has thwarted expectations and Apple has actually increased Mac sales, while elsewhere the PC market has been taking a beating. So perhaps the time is right for a MacBook Air with Retina display after all. As always, only time will tell.

 

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