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Apple's MacBook lineup should have been simplified and unified

Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China

In a recent conversation with The Vergecast, renowned tech reporter Walt Mossberg shed light on an intriguing idea that former Apple Design Chief Jony Ive had for the MacBook lineup. Ive envisioned a unified MacBook line, where the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro would merge into a single, powerful device. The rationale behind this concept was to engineer the MacBook Pro to be as thin and portable as the MacBook Air.

However, as we all know, this consolidation never materialized. Instead, Apple continued to introduce new iterations of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, resulting in a cluttered and confusing product lineup. The situation only worsened when Apple transitioned to its proprietary Apple Silicon chip, launching the M1 MacBook Air and the M1 MacBook Pro. The latter, although equipped with a fan for improved cooling, felt like an underpowered and overpriced version compared to the other MacBook Pro models that were released later on.

This dilemma leads us to consider what the MacBook lineup might have looked like if Ive's vision had been realized. Perhaps we would have seen a simplified range, following Apple's tradition of offering good/better/best options across its product categories. In this scenario, we would likely have had an entry-level MacBook with the M3 chip, a mid-tier MacBook with the M3 Pro chip, and a top-tier MacBook with the M3 Max chip. To cater to different preferences, a choice between 14-inch and 16-inch displays could have been offered.

Such a streamlined lineup would have made it easier for consumers to understand and choose the right MacBook model for their needs. Instead, Apple's current MacBook lineup consists of a confusing mix of Airs and Pros, targeting different markets with similar yet disparate machines. The range offers mismatched performance and design elements, leaving consumers puzzled and often pressured to upgrade to the next model.

While it's understandable that Apple values diversity in its product offerings, there is merit in Ive's approach of a smaller portfolio that provides clear value propositions within each segment. This philosophy has worked well for Apple in other product categories, such as the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and MacBook.

In conclusion, the MacBook lineup is a complex and convoluted mix of options, deviating from the clean and simple lines that Apple is known for. Perhaps it's time for Apple to reconsider its approach and find ways to streamline and clarify its MacBook offerings. A unified MacBook line, as envisioned by Jony Ive, could have alleviated confusion and provided consumers with a more straightforward and satisfying experience.

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