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How the MacBook Air could change everything (again)

Michael Simon | Jan. 15, 2015
Last week, while the rest of his peers were knee-deep in selfie drones, wearables, and smart washers, Mark Gurman of 9to5mac published a scoop that trumped anything to come out of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Apple intended to release a 12-inch MacBook Air sometime in 2015. Ho-hum, right? Maybe not. It's not just that he reported about an unreleased Apple product that no one had an inkling of (though that surely helped). Gurman's report garnered so much attention because it described a laptop so intriguing it was practically unbelievable: a MacBook Air so thin and light that it had only two ports, and neither of them were dedicated to supplying power.

Last week, while the rest of his peers were knee-deep in selfie drones, wearables, and smart washers, Mark Gurman of 9to5mac published a scoop that trumped anything to come out of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Apple intended to release a 12-inch MacBook Air sometime in 2015. Ho-hum, right? Maybe not. It's not just that he reported about an unreleased Apple product that no one had an inkling of (though that surely helped). Gurman's report garnered so much attention because it described a laptop so intriguing it was practically unbelievable: a MacBook Air so thin and light that it had only two ports, and neither of them were dedicated to supplying power.

In the renderings it seems like a fantastical concept, something we would ooh and aah over on Dribbble but ultimately disregard due to practicality and realism. But Gurman supplies enough solid information to make the report believable (and his solid track record doesn't hurt). And when you break it down, it's not all that crazy.

History repeats itself

Apple will forever be remembered for the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and whatever its next revolutionary product may be (Apple Watch anyone?). But what history won't remember quite as well are the little risks it took that helped pave the way for these products. Had Gurman published a report in January 1998 about Apple working on a blue, all-in-one machine with no floppy drive or serial port, it would have been met with a fair amount of skepticism. Looking back, it seems obvious, but at the time of the original iMac's introduction, it was a radical departure from what people expected from a personal computer (and that's to say nothing of its circular mouse). CD-Rs had yet to really take off and the thought of giving up 3.5-inch floppy disks was a frightening notion, despite the obvious benefits. But Apple saw the future and dragged us into it.

The same is true of the original MacBook Air. To look at it was to want one, but much like the iMac, the stunning design came at a hefty price for anyone who wanted a built-in optical drive, FireWire, or Gigabit Ethernet (none of which were to be found on this laptop). But no matter, it set the tone for a whole new generation of laptops, and now everything out there looks and acts a whole lot like the original Air. And it's no coincidence that CDs are going the way of the dodo.

Rarely, if ever, has Apple guessed wrong when it comes to soon-to-be-obsolete technology. It reads the writing on the wall like no other company can, and has set the tone for the industry since the early days of the Mac. So if this new MacBook is real, you can bet Apple is already looking much further down the road.

 

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