Well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has thrown a new device into his 2018 Apple product forecast. And it’s not one we were expecting.
In a research note distributed to KGI Securities’ clients on Monday, Kuo told investors to keep their eyes on three Apple products this year: a rumored 6.1-inch LCD-based iPhone, a new generation of AirPod, and “a more affordable MacBook Air.”
The analyst said he expects the Cupertino tech giant to unveil a MacBook Air-style device during the second quarter of 2018. That device would carry “a lower price tag,” which might allow it to help bump up Apple’s total MacBook shipments by 10 to 15 percent year-over-year, Kuo added.
What a new generation of MacBook Air could look like is still vague at this point. Kuo didn’t expand on the rumored device’s form factor, features or hardware. But Kuo has an excellent track record of predicting Apple’s moves, so it’s likely that the analyst has his facts straight.
Interestingly, while this is the first we’ve heard of a possible new “MacBook Air,” Kuo’s forecast does line up with a similarly vague supply chain report from earlier this year. In January, DigiTimes suggested that Apple could introduce a “13-inch entry-level MacBook” to its lineup.
While DigiTimes calls it a MacBook and Kuo calls it a MacBook Air, it’s very likely that the two devices are one and the same.
The MacBook Air is long overdue for an upgrade. It’s been three years since the device lineup has received any significant updates, and in that time, Apple has killed off the 11-inch MacBook Air —seemingly in favor of its iPad Pro lineup and its new 12-inch MacBook.
Apple did bump the processor on the 13-inch MacBook Air last June, but the Broadwell chip in that upgrade is still older and arguably outdated. In fact, before today’s report, it had all but seemed that the MacBook Air was doomed to the chopping block.
To get the MacBook Air lineup current, Apple would probably update the notebook series with a better, Retina display and USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. That’s not counting an overall aesthetic redesign, either (which might be something to keep an eye out for, too).
As far as its price point, a MacBook Air with a “lower price tag” could suggest that Apple might want to price the device in the sub-$1,000 range. Most Mac devices retail north of that price point, but we’ve seen Apple make similar moves into the entry-level spectrum with the iPhone SE and its 2017 iPad.
While the “second quarter” launch timeline is fairly broad, it suggests the timeframe between April and June. Apple typically unveils new products and upgrades to its computer lineup at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which does take place in June.