Apple is reportedly planning a cheaper MacBook Air and it may launch later this year. Rumours about a more affordable 13-inch MacBook Air have been surfacing for quite some time now. Apple was expected to release a new MacBook Air with a lower price tag during the second quarter of 2018, possibly at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2018, but a new report says the production has been delayed to the second half of 2018.
Citing Apple's supply chain sources, a Digitimes report says the company's volume production of its new 'budget-type MacBook Air' will begin at some point in the second half of the year instead of the originally scheduled second quarter. The report claims the company plans to update its MacBook Air range with a model that could retail for $899 (roughly Rs. 60,000), or even as low as $799 (roughly Rs. 53,300). It appears to be a part of a plan to "boost MacBook sales by 10 percent" and reclaim some of the low-price laptop market where Chromebooks have been popular.
Suppliers that have started production for some MacBook Air components are now expected to suffer from high inventories and low capacity utilisation until Apple starts to take shipments for the new device. Apple has not provided any explanation for the delay, but the report says that it could be something to do with key components like processors. Some sources have said that Apple has deferred volume production of several products including iPhone, HomePod, and MacBook Air as it is adjusting marketing strategies according to different market conditions.
To note, the new laptop will reportedly feature a slim design, high-resolution 'Retina' screen, and the latest Intel processor. This means no switch to Apple's homegrown processors just yet.
MacBook Air, launched by then Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco in 2008, has not been updated since 2015 as Apple has shifted focus towards the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Air, a popular choice for college students, is currently sold starting at $999 (roughly Rs. 66,600) for 128GB of PCIe-based storage, a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 processor, and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM. It is priced at Rs. 77,200 in India, though usually at much lower prices in the open market. The device last saw a minor update at WWDC 2017, with a slightly faster processor, and 8GB of RAM as a default.
Notably, Apple had refreshed its entire line of laptops at WWDC 2017. The company may even make some announcement of the new affordable laptop at the keynote event this year, even if mass production is not beginning anytime soon.