Gurman: New MacBook, Mac mini Coming This Year »

Mark Gurman, with Debby Wu:

The new laptop will look similar to the current MacBook Air, but will include thinner bezels around the screen. The display, which will remain about 13-inches, will be a higher-resolution “Retina” version that Apple uses on other products, the people said.

The current MacBook Air, which costs $1,000, remains Apple’s only laptop without a high-resolution screen. The MacBook Air was last updated with a faster processor option last year, but hasn’t seen a major overhaul in several years. The 12-inch MacBook launched in 2015 was seen as a replacement to the MacBook Air, but its $1,300 starting price put it out of reach for some consumers.

This new machine is said to have a Retina display, which is great news.

Maybe its keyboard will work.

Apple’s low-end notebook has had three major categories of buyer: regular consumers, students and school districts buying in bulk. If Apple can meet the needs of those groups, this machine could be the successor to the plastic MacBook and MacBook Air that so many of want to see. I hope they’ve started from the ground up on a system to do just that; if Apple has started with the MacBook Pro and just taken things away to hit a price point, it doesn’t really solve what is at the heart of the problem.

They go on:

Apple is also planning the first upgrade to the Mac mini in about four years. It’s a Mac desktop that doesn’t include a screen, keyboard, or mouse in the box and costs $500. The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers. For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions, the people said.

I think pivoting the Mac mini from the “starter Mac” to one for enthusiasts makes a lot of sense.

For years, many customers purchased Mac minis because they were the cheapest Macs in the line. However, as notebooks have taken over, the appeal of the desktop Mac — even a cheap one — has faded for mainstream consumers.

However, there are a bunch of people using Mac minis as home servers, in entertainment centers and in small businesses.1 Revamping the system to better serve those customers would make a lot of people happy, depending on what “more expensive” means. Those users weren’t ever buying the entry-level SKU, so why not lean into that?

  1. I run two Mac minis. One is my home server and is plugged into our TV. The other is the live streaming server for Relay FM, and lives at MacStadium.