Report Claims Lower Cost MacBook Air Coming in 2018

MacBook Air running macOS High Sierra

Apple is going to update the MacBook Air this year and give it a lower price tag, or so says KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

MacBook Air running macOS High Sierra
MacBook Air may get a refresh and lower price this year

In a note to investors he said,

We expect Apple to roll out the new MacBook Air with a lower price tag in 2Q18. We forecast total shipments of MacBook models will grow 10-15 percent year-on-year in 2018 (versus 0-5 percent year-on-year decline for the Notebook industry), up from 15.5-16 million units in 2017.

It’s possible he’s right, although it doesn’t feel like Apple is interested in giving the ultra-thin laptop any love. The last notable refresh was in spring 2015 when the MacBook Air got faster processors, better graphics chips, and Thunderbolt 2. In June 2017 it got a minor processor speed bump. The MacBook Air still doesn’t ship with a Retina display.

While the MacBook Air did get a minor update last year, it’s more in the Mac mini camp which was last updated in October 2014. It’s a computer the company still sells, but doesn’t seem to care for any more.

Apple has been more focused on the MacBook as its ultra-thin laptop, although the price point is higher than the MacBook Air. The MacBook costs US$999, where the base model MacBook is priced at $1,299.

CNBC notes that Kuo doesn’t have any other details about the supposed MacBook Air refresh. It’s possible Apple plans to give the aging laptop another minor processor boost, and maybe add in USB 3 or even USB C support. Or maybe it’ll quietly fade away and Apple will walk away from the sub $1,000 laptop market.

5 thoughts on “Report Claims Lower Cost MacBook Air Coming in 2018

  • As I hear it, the logic board is end of life. There aren’t any new CPUs that will work with it, so this would have to be a significant redesign, like the iPhone SE, old case, new guts, which would be cool (except the screen), but quite a bit of work. Probably better spent getting MacBook down in price. Seriously, those M CPUs can’t be worth that much anymore…

  • I bought an 11.6″ MBA in 2015 from Best Buy for $700, stuck a low profile 128gb Samsung flash drive on it, and it’s been my travel computer ever since. I would have liked to have had 8gb RAM rather than the 4gb I got, but it really hasn’t been an issue. I don’t have lots of extra money available to pay $1000+ for a laptop, and I would guess there are lots of other people in the same boat. If Apple updated the 13″ MBA with 512GB of storage and dropped the price to say, $650 or $700, they probably couldn’t make enough of them to meet demand. It would also be appealing to Windows users who are looking for something better but don’t want to take out a loan to buy a laptop. The Retina screen is nice, but really isn’t necessary for most people. I really don’t know where most folks get the money to pay north of $1k for a laptop–I make decent money as an engineer and I can’t afford it.

  • Who knows, but I think Apple will give the MBA a minor update and keep selling it … I work at a University and the MBA is very popular amongst the budget conscious part of the student community.

    And hey, if they’d put a retina screen in the thing it’d be what I’d buy for my wife for her next laptop … she’d love it.

    Old UNIX Guy

  • I don’t doubt Apple would keep flogging this horse if it meant competing with cheap notebooks. Nobody wants to see such old technology out there still, and the cheap CPUs in the MacBook really put it in the Air class of today – but I can see the horse flogged one more time.

    Apple’s real problem with cheap notebooks/Chromebooks is (as discussed recently by various pundits) i the lack of the great Mac experience. Web apps, cross platform apps that don’t conform to Mac interface guidelines and generally poor apps that don’t give the ‘Mac is so much better experience’ of old means there’s less and less Mac advantage these days. iOS style apps on Mac won’t help this either.

  • I will believe it when it is announced on stage. Like the Mac Mini, the Air is “A product in our lineup.” To me It’s a much superior machine to the MacBook. I know I am biased. I don’t think they would ever put a retina screen on the Air. If they did IMHO; there is no reason for the MacBook.

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