Why the MacBook Air is a toy with no promise

Don Reisinger thinks the MacBook Air is nothing more than a toy with no promise. Is he right?

MacBook Air
MacBook Air = flop Apple

Over the course of the past week, I decided to wait before making my final decision on whether or not I believed Apple's new MacBook Air would be a success or not. After evaluating the state of the ultraportable market historically (poor) and the specs Apple is doling out with this device, it seems almost too obvious that very few people will be willing to buy this junker.

Let's face it--the MacBook Air is nothing more than a gimmick to make people believe Apple is a trendsetter that knows the best way to bring "cool" products to the masses. But what everyone seems to forget is that this company already has a slew of "cool" products and there's no need for something that's underpowered and overpriced.

Suffice it to say, the MacBook Air is nothing more than a toy that has no promise and will flounder in stores. Why you ask? It's simple.

First off, let's look at Apple's current stable of notebooks. The company offers the MacBook, which is slim and small in its own right and features the same size screen as the Air. Not only that, but it sports far superior specs and is only 0.32-inches thicker than the Air when comparing them at their thickest points. Oh, and let's not forget that it only weighs 2 pounds more and starts at $1099, compared to the Air's $1799 pricetag.

On the other side of things, Apple's MacBook Pro is built with the power user in mind and although it's much bigger than the Air, its entry-level price is just $200 more.

So let me get this straight--I can have a Mac that's barely thinner than its brother, underpowered, but admittedly "cooler" for an additional $700? Now let's be honest--who in their right mind would spend an additional $700 on a device just because it looks nicer?

Now, I know that some Apple zealots are screaming right now saying that it's all about portability and it's not meant to be the workhorse the other MacBooks are, but if you're telling me that you can't carry a MacBook around because it's too big and too heavy, you might want to see a doctor.

Another problem that Steve Jobs failed to address during his keynote speech is, who in the world is going to buy this toy? My guess: the diehard Apple fanboy and people with enough money in the bank that they don't mind spending $1799 on a product they'll use in their car or at coffee shops.

Beyond those two groups, who else is really buying this thing? Can anyone honestly say that the average consumer will run down to their local Apple store, excited to get their hands on their first Mac, and choose the Air over the MacBook if they're looking for something small?

I can hear it now: "Hold on, so what you're saying is that I can get a much faster and better-equipped computer that's barely larger for $700 less? Where's the cash register?"

And while I don't think the lack of an optical drive is a big deal by any means, think of the average person just looking to get their hands on a Mac and listening to others tell them how it "just works." How will they feel when they get the Air home, try to install Office and realize the optical drive is missing? Sure, they can go through the trouble of connecting to another computer in the home and pop the disc into that drive, but doesn't it significantly reduce the allure of having a device that "just works"?

Of course, it doesn't quite end there. So far, ultraportable sales have been flat, to say the least, and aside from a few bursts in sales every now and then, the ultraportable market is not the best to enter if a company is looking to increase its market share and turn a profit.

So why did Apple decide to get in on the ultraportable game? More than likely, it's because the company thinks it can do no wrong. And who can tell Steve he can? Not only has the iPod been an unbridled success, but the iPhone is selling extremely well and Mac sales have never been stronger.

But for the first time in years, Jobs and company has committed a blunder that could have enormous consequences. Not only is the MacBook Air a glorified toy that won't be used by the vast majority of consumers, it's overpriced and lacking any significant benefit of ownership other than its looks and multi-touch trackpad.

If you're looking for portability, save $700 and buy the MacBook. If you're looking to spend money, go the extra mile and find yourself a MacBook Pro. Suffice it to say, there's no need for the MacBook Air.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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