Apple planning a more affordable MacBook Air for 2018

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Apple will deliver a “more affordable” MacBook Air this year, according to one reliable analyst.

The existing MacBook Air lineup remains pricey, despite being incredibly outdated. Apple asks customers to cough up at least $999 for fifth-generation Intel processors and a low-resolution display.

Its ultraportable design made the MacBook Air the thinnest and most impressive notebook money could buy when it was first introduced in 2008. Steve Jobs famously demonstrated the machine’s portability by pulling it out of a manila envelope during its unveiling at Macworld.

In recent years, however, the MacBook Air has been cast aside in favor of more innovative MacBook Pros, and even slimmer 12-inch MacBooks. Apple has made only slight improvements to what is now its most affordable machine. Its future has been looking increasingly bleak.

A cheaper MacBook Air is coming

Apple has no plans to discontinue the MacBook Air just yet, though. Reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports that the company is working on a more affordable model for 2018.

“We expect Apple (US) to roll out the new MacBook Air with a lower price tag in 2Q18,” reads a note to investors, obtained by MacRumors. “We forecast total shipments of MacBook models will grow 10-15% YoY in 2018 (vs. 0-5% YoY decline for the NB industry), up from 15.5-16mn units in 2017.”

Kuo doesn’t mention what the more affordable MacBook Air might offer, but he insists Apple suppliers Quanta, Radiant, Catcher, and SZS will benefit from strong shipments.

Apple could maintin the MacBook Air’s existing design to reduce its price tag, but it’s likely that it will swap its existing ports for USB-C. Fans will be wishing for a sharper, improved display and more powerful internals, but Apple will have a balance to strike between performance and price.

A WWDC unveiling could be possible

Kuo expects the new MacBook Air to launch during the second quarter of this year, between April and June, which could suggest a WWDC unveiling. His note also reiterates Apple’s plans to launch a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone with an edge-to-edge display, and new AirPods.

Apple is also expected to debut new over-the-ear headphones, which Kuo believes are the future of Apple’s artificial intelligence and augmented reality ambitions. Kuo notes the headphones will be more accessible than HomePod and could complement future AR glasses.

Kuo has high hopes for Apple’s headphone business, which includes the extremely popular AirPods. He is less optimistic about HomePod, which has seen “mediocre” demand so far, Kuo says.