The MacBook Air is the New MacBook

The 13 inch, ivory polycarbonate MacBook was the descendant of the iconic iBook, and at $999, was positioned as Apple’s entry-level notebook. Now that’s all changed, and the MacBook is no more. Or is it?

The aluminum MacBook Air has supplanted its plasic-y sibling, taking its place in the lineup. At just a buck under a thousand dollars for the 11 inch model, The new Macbook Air is priced right in the entry-level sweet spot, where the Macbook was previously. So, Apple’s notebook offerings are currently the Macbook Air, and the MacBook Pro— and that’s it.

And that’s only going to fly for right now. (Air pun so intended)

The reason I say this is because right now the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are highly differentiated products. One is more powerful and thicker, and has an optical drive. The other is svelte, sexy, and quick, but not racing-fast in the graphics department. But those differences will not serve to differentiate the two for much longer.

Apple seeks a strong family resemblance and design continuity in the product line, so they take what they have learned from one product and bring it to the next. That’s the reason the Macbook Air’s unibody aluminum construction is now also a feature of the MacBook Pro line.

Now there’s the rumors, which indicate that Apple may be preparing a dramatically thinner “15 inch Mac Notebook”. It would be no surprise if this new model followed Apple’s recent penchant for optical drive dismemberment, and it’s safe to say that on a 15-incher, there’s going to be some extra space in there for something.

Something like a larger battery.

A larger battery to power a better graphics experience on a slimmed-down MacBook Pro.

Suddenly, the Macbook Pro and MacBook Air would look very, very similar.

So, make no mistake. The MacBook Air’s diet plan is coming to the MacBook Pro— eventually. And, when it does, Apple is going to want to make clear the difference between the Pro and non-Pro notebooks. After all, they don’t want Pro customers going lower-end, right?

And, since the “Air” in MacBook Air would no longer stand for “thinner than a MacBook”, It would stand for nothing, really.

If that happens, then we could then see a re-brand of the Macbook Air as The New Macbook, solidifying the difference between the two products, and resurrecting the MacBook name.

Or, you know, not. No big deal.