A few years ago, laptop sales skyrocketed. With much of the population stuck at home for both work and school, plus the cash piled up from government stimulus checks, many people need better computers to use at home. And many of them have already bought laptops, with 340 million by 2021.
But that wave is long gone. Overall laptop sales fell double digits in 2022 and haven’t rebounded in 2023. Apple, always the outlier in so many markets, has managed to post gains in 2022. compared to 2021. But the past two quarters have seen Mac revenue drop the most year-over-year in half a decade. Last quarter’s Mac revenue was the lowest since Q3 2020. (Jason Snell at six colors There are tons of helpful charts out there that illustrate this—you want to find “Mac sales” and “year-to-date Mac sales change.”) Despite the big push from the refurbished MacBook Pro that launched in late 2021 and the strong performance from last year’s M2 Air, Mac sales have slowed a lot.
So what does a company have to do to bring some wind back into those days?
sail the sale? Well, if you’re Apple, it looks like the move is a $100 discount on their most popular laptop. It also gives people what they’ve been waiting for: a larger MacBook Air.
The MacBook Air has long been the standard-bearer for a thin and light creative and productivity laptop. The latest models have a combination of performance, battery life, and build quality that Windows laptops just can’t match. And while it’s firmly in the “more than $1,000 premium,” the MacBook Air offers surprisingly good value for what you get, something one doesn’t usually say about Apple products.
Usually, Apple releases new versions of the Air when they have a new chip, which then leads to sales spikes. But its next chip, presumably the M3, doesn’t seem ready yet. So instead of a refreshed 13-inch Air with a new processor, we’re getting a larger MacBook Air with the same chip and performance we’ve seen over the past year.
Never had a MacBook Air with a big screen. While 15-inch Windows laptops have been the most popular size in the world for decades, the biggest screen you can get on a MacBook Air is 13-inch. If you want a Mac laptop with a larger screen (a reasonable request!), you have to buy a slightly larger one in the 14-inch MacBook Pro (starts at $1,999, $800 more than $800 more). compared to the Air) or opt for a significantly larger display in the 16-inch MacBook Pro (starts at $2,499, more than double that of the Air). In addition to those higher prices, the Pro models are thicker, heavier, and generally more than adequate for what most people need in a laptop. It’s not an interesting option if all you want is a larger screen for your browser and spreadsheets.
The 15-inch MacBook Air met this need from the start. It weighs 3.3 pounds, has the same thickness as the 13-inch Air, and starts at $1,299. It uses the same M2 processor that debuted a year ago. It has the same RAM and storage options, the same expected battery life, and the same webcam and port options. The only difference, aside from the larger screen, is the six-speaker sound system. It fills a longstanding gap in Apple’s line of laptops, and I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular.
Essentially, Apple could have released the 15-inch Air any time it wanted over the past decade. There may have been 15-inch Intel versions, 15-inch M1 models, or damn, Apple could have released the 15-inch Air at the same time as the new Air design language and M2 chip a year ago. In fact, there have been reports that Apple is planning a 15-inch model before the launch of the M2 Air.
But by keeping the release timeline until this year, Apple can fix the Mac’s sluggish performance of the past few quarters and have something new to fuel growth against the strong performance from Apple. M2 Air last year. It’s a handbook that Apple has used in the past — when iPhone sales start to slow, it expands the lineup to include more models.
This is Apple’s trump card and it’s playing it right now
Looking at this week’s announcement through the lens of sales numbers and earnings reports can make you feel a little skeptical, but it’s important to remember that, after all, Apple is a large, business-focused corporation. revenue and profit, and is very good at creating smart business games. This is Apple’s trump card for the Mac business, and it timings play when it’s needed most.
This isn’t a total loss to consumers, of course: if you want a larger MacBook Air, you finally have the option without having to buy the MacBook Pro that most of you don’t have. no need. Even though the M2 chip has been out for a year, it’s still a great and incredibly efficient processor — I have no doubt that the 15-inch Air will become the highest-rated laptop ever. reviews are given.
I just wish we had the option for one without having to wait until now.