The Way forward for the MacBook Stands at a Crossroads

At the moment, Mac fans are on the verge of an abyss. Not only are we very close to stepping into the Apple Silicon era, but there are also strong rumors that Apple is about to bring back one of its most controversial products of all time: the 12-inch MacBook.

This whisper is not yet consolidated, however, for there is another possibility that is being talked about. Apple could bring out a completely different 12-inch device in the form of a redesigned MacBook Air. The option Apple has chosen could have a huge impact on the future of its Mac lineup, and I know exactly which path the company will hopefully take.

Bring the MacBook back from the dead

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

The original 12-inch MacBook was one of Apple's daring experiments – an incredibly light, completely fanless laptop with just a USB-C port and a brand new butterfly keyboard design. While these features were interesting, they created all sorts of problems. You always needed a thousand dongles to connect your peripherals. Sure, it was silent, but its performance had to be reduced drastically to make its fanless design possible. It was way too expensive and way too niche. And we all know the problems with the butterfly keyboard.

The way I see it, reviving the 12-inch MacBook and adding an Apple Silicon processor will only solve one of these problems. Apple's new chips are based on an ARM architecture, and other ARM chips are known to be incredibly energy efficient. Apple itself has announced that its new processors will offer great performance with low power consumption. Removing the low-power Intel chips from the 12-inch MacBook and replacing them with Apple's own designs would undoubtedly improve performance, but it won't be nearly enough.

That's because a revitalized 12-inch MacBook will almost certainly still have the butterfly keyboard and only one port. Why? Because insanely thin and light was the key to the 12-inch MacBook's identity, and the slim keyboard and single port were supposedly necessary sacrifices to achieve that. For example, equip it with the thicker Magic keyboard found on the latest MacBook Pro and you have a completely different device.

And that's all before we get to the clutter the revived 12-inch MacBook would make with Apple's Mac list. Do you remember 2018 when we had both the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air? It was confusing. Which was the entry-level model? "Air" has always meant Apple's lightest devices. Why was the 12-inch MacBook lighter? The last thing we need is a return to that jumbled laptop lineup.

Change is in the air

Macbook Air (2018) reviewRiley Young / Digital Trends

So what's the other option? I hope Apple will leave the 12-inch MacBook where it belongs – on the cold, cold floor – and instead refresh the MacBook Air with a new design. This may be a long road, but it makes a lot of sense. Carry me here

We already know that Apple is looking to downsize its MacBook frames. The MacBook Pro 15 received this treatment when it was recast as the MacBook Pro 16, and rumors are strong that Apple is working on a 14-inch MacBook Pro to replace the 13-inch version.

Why should Apple stop there? When the company sees what it holds for the future, it goes into full swing and brings it to all devices in this area. Over the years it has happened to USB-C ports, the Retina display, and the Force Touch trackpad, and it's sure to be the case with screen bezels too. That means stripped screen edges will likely end up on the MacBook Air sooner or later.

It also goes well with the history of air. While it's only available in the 13-inch size these days, in previous years you could buy an 11-inch MacBook Air if you wanted something lighter. Cleaning the Apple bezel makes sense here: From 15-inch Pro to 16-inch Pro. From 13-inch pro to 14-inch pro. And from 11 "air to 12" air. In any case, the space requirement of the device has remained the same. You just have more screen space for your money.

Revitalizing the air in this way would allow Apple not to step back, which the company hates. It detests being wrong because it believes so strongly in its own innovations. It would be humbling to go back to a product that was previously killed – complete with a butterfly keyboard that killed it too -. Redesign the MacBook Air? Apple could call it progress.

Keep it simple

When Steve Jobs was at the top, his famous "Mac Quadrant" ruled: a laptop and a desktop for professionals and consumers. No more and no less. While Apple's desktop lineup is ubiquitous, laptops are still fairly basic on offer. A new size MacBook Air wouldn't disrupt the professional / consumer segment as much as a revived 12-inch MacBook.

With that said, I'm worried that Apple will try to use the 12-inch MacBook again. Hope I'm wrong and Apple would rather look to the future than the MacBook's past. Either way, we'll find out soon, as Apple will be releasing its first Apple Silicon Mac before the end of the year. Let's hope it's good.

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