Apple Stores Are Holding the New MacBooks Captive

Image credit: Apple

The major design feature of Apple's new MacBook is its low weight. To hold it in one's hand, untethered, is to appreciate the significance of the design. So why shouldn't Apple let customers walk around the store with one and test the keyboard for awhile? Here's my argument.


It's been said that the new MacBook is actually the long anticipated iPad Pro. By that observers mean that the low weight, OS X power for traditional activities and the 12-inch screen rival what one could expect to do with the 12.x-inch iPad Pro. Many think Apple will release that iPad Pro in a few months to breathe new life into the product line. But I digress.

Today, this blurring of the weight penalty for a modern notebook Mac like the MacBook is an astonishing and pleasing thing to discover. Right away, one's brain says, I would love to be mobile, to travel with this Mac.

I weighed my iPad Air with its folio cover (Macally Clear Case). The total weight is 684 grams (1.50 pounds). That seems like a fair comparison because the MacBook also has a lid that closes to protect the display. Meanwhile, the naked MacBook weighs 910 grams (2.0 pounds). When the weights are this close, something clicks in the brain about the portability and desirability of the MacBook.

L: iPad Air at 1.5 lbs with folio case, R: naked MacBook at 2.0 lbs

Apple Stores Say No

However, in the Apple retail stores, these majestic MacBooks are tethered to the tables. About all one can do is lift one up for a bit and then stoop over and fiddle with the keyboard. Its a tiresome process. Indeed, I already wrote about important it is to spend some quality time with this excellent keyboard. "Eight Weeks With the MacBook Keyboard: Total Love."

What the customer really needs to do is walk around the store with one, put it in a backpack or briefcase, sit on the floor in a corner or sit on one of the high stools near the genius bar and type for 20 minutes. Hold it. In fact, fondle it at length. Free from its bindings.

Now I know what you're thinking: the security aspects of letting a customer walk around with an untethered MacBook are a challenge. One of them might just continue walking, right out of the store. However, if the salesperson really wants to close the deal, he or she could accompany the prospective customer during this sales opportunity.

It's also a chance to more fully engage the customer, answer questions and demonstrate features such as AirPlay, AirDrop and AirPrint. The impact of those technologies is huge when the MacBook rests in the lap, not wired to a table.

Sure it's a challenge, but in grand scheme of challenges for Apple, this seems like a small one. For example, one could limit the number of untethered MacBooks to one or two at a time. (And have Find My Mac turned on.)

This new MacBook is beautiful and desirable by virtue of its two pound design point. Just like the Apple Watch, which one has to actually try on to appreciate, the MacBook needs to be "tried on" in a real world scenario.

Otherwise, it becomes a lonely, small, hamstrung device. Chained to a table. Aching to be carried around and typed on for awhile, but unable. It longs for a great escape.

Right into the customer's shopping bag.