The MacBook Air debuted in 2008 as the world’s thinnest laptop and was such an amazing entry into the netbook category that it ended up creating its own category: the ultrabook. This class of laptop combines an ultra slim body (generally 0.8 inch thickness) with a performance level beyond typical netbooks for a price point that averages to around $1000. Given that tablets and smartphones are capturing more of the computing market, it makes sense to miniaturize laptops as much as possible while still offering a performance advantage and the convenience of full-sized keyboards. Though there is a general move toward mobile devices, the MacBook Air is still doing quite well and outpacing its entire class. The numbers are astounding: Apple shipped 2.8 million MacBook Air models in Q2 2012, compared to 500,000 for the rest of the ultrabook market. Are the reasons for this dominance just brand recognition, getting to the market first, and because sales of laptops were somewhat stalled by people waiting for the release of Windows 8? Those may have been factors, but let us look at why the MacBook Air may be a class apart:
- MacBook Air was built in mind with early integration of Intel’s most recent line of powerful, multi-core, low energy processors.
- MacBook Air has had more time on the market. It started out as a niche item but the falling cost of solid state drives (SSD) has made it more affordable and given it a wider audience. In any case, it is more mature and well-used than the rest of the ultrabook market.
- Aside from the lack of Ethernet ports and an optical drive, which are considered optional in this class, the set of features and performance level for the price point is extremely high and solid for devices in this class. Furthermore, MacBook Air ships with 4GB of RAM but is upgradable to 8GB for maximum performance.