At WWDC 2023, Apple opened their presentation with an exciting new product – the 15-inch MacBook Air. It looked set to be a knockout. Take everything you've ever loved about the MacBook Air range and make it a little bigger.
I was hooked from day one. I've been using an M1 MacBook Air since it launched, and I'm totally in love with it. Making that format a little bigger, with a newer processor, seemed like a solid upgrade.
It's something of a surprise, then, to hear that sales figures for the device are flagging. That's according to a report from DigiTimes, which says that the supply chain is preparing to put shipments on hold to avoid a backlog. It sounds like a fairly dire situation, with figures as low as "50% less than the original estimate."
But actually, it's not really surprising at all.
See, I was primed to shell out for one of these when they launched. Credit card in hand, wallet wincing in terror, there I was totting up the right spec sheet for my needs. I'm sure many others were in the same boat.
But I still haven't got one. For me, there's one simple reason for that – the M3 chip. Slated to arrive as early as October this year, that should be among the first Apple chips to utilise a 3nm architecture. That would mean extra power, extra efficiency, or a bit of both.
It's likely to be one of the biggest updates to the format since Apple moved away from Intel chips in favour of their own designs. And it makes it incredibly hard to justify spending on anything with an M2 chip right now.
Rumours suggest that the 13-inch MacBook Air could be among the first to get the new chip, too. That makes it even tougher for me. The extra screen real estate would be nice to have, but it's certainly not essential. The new chip would make a much more significant difference.
There is another reason why it's been a sluggish start for the model. The current economic situation makes it much harder to justify spending on luxury items – like big, shiny new laptops. Consumers simply aren't as cash rich as they have been in recent years, which was always going to have an impact.
That even feeds back into the first point. If I have limited funds to treat myself with, I'm going to be even more particular about what I buy.
What I hope doesn't happen as a result of this is that Apple class the device as an outright failure. It's not – you only have to look at the swathes of positive reviews to see how well it's been received. It's simply a case of right idea, wrong time.