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Sandy Bridge MacBook Airs to start production in May

updated 12:45 pm EDT, Fri April 22, 2011

Should also carry Thunderbolt ports

Apple should start mass production of new MacBook Air models in late May, Concord Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo tells AppleInsider. The information is said to come from checks with suppliers and system builders in Asia. The update should be particularly significant, upgrading the Air's processor options from Core 2 Duos to low- or ultra-low voltage models of the Core i5 and i7, based on Intel's Sandy Bridge platform. Sandy Bridge also includes advanced integrated graphics technology, which could mean that Apple will bypass using integrated NVIDIA chips.

The Air should also get access to Thunderbolt, Intel's 10Gbps connection standard. Thunderbolt support so far remains scarce; the only computer to support it is the MacBook Pro, and Thunderbolt-ready peripherals are only gradually being introduced. Upcoming iMacs should likewise be enhanced with Thunderbolt ports.

Kuo comments that new models should help to pick up Air sales, which dropped off 51 percent quarter-over-quarter in calendar Q1. On a month-to-month basis sales fell 40 percent in February, likely drawn away by the new Pros. The Air has done well overall but did extremely well in its first quarter of availability, with Apple building about 1 million units. Upgrading the notebook should boost the current quarter's MacBook shipments by 5 to 10 percent sequentially, according to Kuo.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MBA model mismatch

    I'm not surprised to hear that MBA sales dropped quickly after the initial rush. I do a lot of writing in libraries, and I've yet to see a single MBA. Lots of MacBooks and MacBook Pros around, but not one MBA. iPads only took a few weeks to appear.

    The sales fall-off isn't surprising. While the most recent MBA is to be commended for ending Apple's 'tiny tax' on lightweight models. It didn't go far enough. The 11" model I found most appealing was over-priced in comparison to the 13" model, particularly given the limited battery life. It appears that Apple was satisfied with making the supposedly magic $995 price point, and didn't ask what price it really should be.

    Also, adding more storage and 4-gig of memory (almost a necessity today) costs too much. I could get closer to what I wanted (and a much longer battery life) with the 13" model for almost the same price, but I didn't want the 13" model. With Apple not offering what I wanted at a price that made sense, I decided to stick with my MacBook and wait.

    Apple would do well to realize that screen size is an independent variable. Users don't want the smaller model to have skimpier features, and they certainly don't want creating feature equivalence (less that poor battery life) to make the 11" prices to roughly equal those of the 13" model.

    Apple almost hit a home run with the MBA. The basic idea for the MBA is a marvelous one. As soon as I heard about it, I said, "I want one." But the particular combination of features they chose and the cost to get something other than the core 11" and 13" models made no sense. Apple should offer more core models (especially with more memory) or make the add-ons cheaper. And they really should do something about the 11" model's poor battery life.

  1. bgordon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Price point

    I just think they just have to get the price down for them to be commercially appealing, esp. when you can look at the MBP models and make a convincing case to yourself about not spending more on the MBA for what appears to be less. I'm a freelance copywriter, and recently got a MBA to replace my 2008 MBP...I couldn't love this thing more. As a writer, the older MBP always heated up my left wrist where the processor was, and the thick edge also cut into my wrist, whereas this MBA runs COOL all the time, even when charging, and its thin edges might make it the most comfortable typing/writing platform ever. If they can reduce the price on these models - esp. on the 13-inch model - I think they will sell like crazy.

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