My mom has used computers before, from the Apple II to the Amiga to the Performa to the iMac. But she's never wanted one before. Since she started using the iPad in 2011, she's barely even looked at one. Now she wants the new MacBook, the same one that has some outlets denouncing it as a "betrayal" or a "bad value". What's causing the difference in reactions?
Some people look at products and find what's for them. In the new MacBook, my mom found a simple, beautiful computer that would suit both her tastes and needs. There's only one port, so she'll never have to wonder what goes where, and a processor that skews more towards power-efficiency than high-end performance suits the web browsing, email, and writing she wants to do with it. It doesn't upset her that there's also a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro on the market, because she's happy she found the MacBook she wants.
Other people look at products and even if they find one that suits their needs, they get upset about the ones that don't. They see a single port or a choice of chipset or the cost of tomorrow's technology today and, despite the MacBook Air having more ports and the MacBook Pro having other chipsets, and both still being on the shelves, they're angry the alternative exists. Either because they'd want it if it were different in some way, or because they fear it will somehow threaten what they already have.
It's understandable. The floppy went away, the optical drive is all but gone, Firewire is fading even as an adapter, and Thunderbolt is settling into the high-end. Just like with the original iMac, and the original MacBook Air, and the all new Mac Pro, the MacBook is an evolution, a change, and change is stressful.
The good news is that the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro aren't going anywhere any time soon. Apple just updated both with Intel's latest Broadwell chipsets, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro got the same Force Touch Trackpad as the new MacBook.
I recently switched from a 13-inch MacBook Air to a 13-inch MacBook Pro because I found I needed to do more Final Cut Pro X video, at a faster rate, than the Air allowed. I was happy with the Air. I'm happy with the Pro. They each suit different needs, and suit me as my needs change.
Now that the new MacBook is out, I'm absolutely going to try it and it might well be the next perfect machine for me. If not, the technology Apple is bringing to market with it will continue to make its way into the rest of the line, meaning better battery life, better interactivity, and better experience regardless of the next perfect machine for me ends up being.
Same for my mom. She may end up getting her first MacBook, or she might stick with the iPad Air. Either way, she now feels like she has more options than she did before. She feels empowered.
That's why I don't begrudge that the other MacBooks, including the new MacBook, exist. I take comfort in it. I value it. I value that Apple is widening its addressable market to people who might want a computer that's as light and portable as a tablet without being fused with one. And I like that Apple is once again dragging the industry forward — is once again skating to where the laptop is going to be.
That also makes it valuable. Maybe another MacBook seems like a better deal to some, and that's fine. For others, the lightness, the display quality, the new keyboard, the new trackpad, the new colors, the fanless design, or a combination of a few or several of those features, makes it a great deal because it's all available now, today. They're not basing their decision on the relative cost of the silicon, but on the overall value of the technology.
If someone doesn't like the new MacBook, that's great! Get a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. If they don't like that the new MacBook exists, however, they need to get a grip. Because there are lots of people who will.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.