There’s been a buzz in the tech community, and it’s all about Apple possibly introducing a low-cost MacBook. With Google’s Chromebook models offering affordability, whispers have been going around that Apple may be joining the budget-friendly market.
A report from DigiTimes last month set the ball rolling by hinting that Apple might introduce a pocket-friendlier MacBook variant in 2024. This new addition would stand distinct from the well-known MacBook Air and Pro models. Ming-Chi Kuo, a renowned Apple analyst, reignited this conversation and believes that Apple might adopt this strategy to pump up their dwindling MacBook sales, aiming to ship around 8-10 million units annually.
The speculations caught fire when Apple announced an upcoming Mac event. Kuo suggested that the “Scary Fast” event on October 30 might revolve around several M3 chips, possibly hinting at the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max versions. And if Apple does roll out these M3 variants simultaneously, it’s probable they’ll be featured in the new 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
In a twist to his earlier forecast where he thought Apple wouldn’t be launching new MacBook Pro models in 2023 due to “limited 4Q 23 shipments”, Kuo now posits that if these new models were to be released in November or December, the supply might remain constrained till early 2024.
Kuo pointed out that the recent dip in Mac shipments might be due to the limited upgrades with the M2 chip. This could be a driving force behind Apple’s speculated move to introduce the M3 MacBook Pro models, even if in smaller quantities. Kuo believes that the M3 might pack a much-needed punch in computing power. But, if this chip also doesn’t revitalize the sales, Apple might pivot towards introducing a more competitively priced MacBook model.
The initial scoop from Taiwan suggests that while these cost-effective MacBooks will retain Apple’s signature metal casing to uphold its unique aesthetic, they could potentially be crafted from alternative materials. The idea is to bring the price down without compromising on the look and feel.
If there’s any truth to this, Apple might reintroduce its 12-inch MacBook, initially launched in 2015. This model was lauded for its sleekness, weighing just two pounds, and marked Apple’s foray into fanless designs, USB-C ports, and the butterfly switch keyboard. However, some criticized its performance as it used Intel Core M processors, feeling it didn’t match up to its $1,299 price point, leading to its discontinuation in 2019.
Yet, chatter about its revival hasn’t died down, especially since Apple’s shift to its own silicon processors and the introduction of the M1 MacBook Air at a $999 starting price. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman was among the first to hint at Apple reviving the 12-inch MacBook, fitted with Apple’s silicon, either by late 2023 or sometime in 2024. Though in January 2023, he mentioned that the 12-inch MacBook wasn’t in Apple’s immediate plans, he didn’t discard its future potential.
February brought with it fresh rumors about Apple reincorporating the 12-inch MacBook. Some sources indicated ongoing production-related activities for this device, and a decision on its mass production might come by mid-year. Now, if this ties back to the claims by DigiTimes and Kuo about a budget MacBook, only time will tell.