On Apple’s Current MacBook Lineup

Apple’s current MacBook lineup is a mess. There, I said it. That’s not to say that the computers that comprise it are bad, but they are confusing. As it stands now, here’s the laptops that Apple currently sells (in order of Price):

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook
  • MacBook Pro (without TouchBar & Thunderbolt 3)
  • MacBook Pro (without TouchBar)
  • MacBook Pro (with TouchBar)

The first thing that stands out as an oddity is the MacBook Air. Many people have already pointed out that this is only there to hit a price point. Apple wants $999 to be the entry level into the MacBook line, and they can’t (or won’t just yet) reduce the price of the MacBook to meet that price. It still has a CPU that is two generations behind and a non-retina screen. It’s also no longer really “Air”-y. The MacBook Pro is now thinner, smaller and almost as light. The MacBook is even smaller, and definitely lighter than the Air. This computer should be axed, but likely won’t be until the MacBook comes down in price.

The other oddball to me is the previous generation MacBook Pro without the TouchBar or Thunderbolt 3. It would seem that they wanted to be able to hit the $1299 price point that the MacBook starts at, but with a more powerful machine. It might also be there to appease the people that want to have physical ports and don’t want to live in Dongle Town. But this is just me speculating. Beyond those possible reasons though, I don’t see a reason for this machine to exist.

The MacBook makes more sense from a hardware perspective. It’s the purest incarnation of Apple’s “Thinner, Lighter” Strategy. But the branding seems to me to be a bit off. It’s the thinnest and lightest computer Apple makes, so this machine should inherit the “Air” moniker.

The MacBook Pro without TouchBar also makes sense from a hardware perspective. But this shouldn’t have gotten the MacBook Pro name. MacBook Pro and TouchBar, in my mind, should go hand in hand. This should be the new MacBook without a modifier. It’s not super thin and light, but it’s also not as beefy as the higher level MacBook Pro and also doesn’t have the TouchBar. Hardware-wise, it sits between the only other models that I feel should still exist, the MacBook Pro with TouchBar, and the MacBook.

So here’s how I think the MacBook lineup should look like:

  • MacBook (Re-Named to the MacBook Air)
  • MacBook Pro without TouchBar (Re-Named to MacBook)
  • MacBook Pro (with TouchBar)

That’s much simpler both from a marketing perspective and a consumer perspective. The MacBook Air is now your thinnest & lightest machine, the MacBook is the mid-range machine, and the MacBook Pro is your most powerful machine with all the bells and whistles, like the TouchBar.

Really, this is nothing new. This would bring the MacBook line philosophy back to what it was when the MacBook Air was first introduced by Steve Jobs in 2008. Three Laptops, a thin & light, a mid-level model, and a pro machine.