Will Apple Update the MacBook Air at WWDC 2014?

Source: Apple.

There's absolutely no doubt that Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) MacBook Air product is sorely in need of a refresh. While the Mavericks operating system, coupled with the wonderful all-day battery life are both superb selling points, the chassis and -- more importantly -- the 1366x768 twisted nematic (TN) display are in need of a long-overdue refresh. While last year's MacBook Air launched at WWDC 2013 in June, will Apple be able to refresh its system at this year's WWDC 2014?

The Broadwell question
In order to do a radically new industrial design (perhaps one was a passively cooled CPU, as suggested in Apple's Next MacBook Air Could Be Fanless), Apple will need a next generation processor that not only performs better but consumes less power by doing so. Obviously, the Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) Haswell-ULT processor found inside of the current MacBook Air is a very fast, power-efficient chip that was the key enabler to very high battery life. It would then naturally follow that the next MacBook Air would use the successor to Haswell, known as Broadwell.

Intel's Haswell processor, found in the MacBook Air. Source: Intel.

The problem, however, is that Intel had problems ramping its 14-nanometer manufacturing process (upon which Broadwell is built) to full production, which meant the product development cycle was thrown off by about three months. While the 14-nanometer Broadwell has likely entered production, and while Apple has likely managed its inventory situation to allow for a transition to a new platform, it's still unlikely that Apple will be able to get a system with Broadwell ramped to market by the end of Q2.

So, the new MacBook Air will likely come later... unless it is Haswell based
If the new MacBook Air is Broadwell based, then it'll probably be more along the lines of an August/September launch unless Intel and Apple have been working exceptionally closely to get Apple chips before anybody else (Apple did have Haswell well before everybody else). If it is Haswell based, but in a new industrial design, then some sacrifices on performance would likely be made if Apple decides to go with a passively cooled design -- something Apple would likely be very hesitant to do.

Frankly, with the 13" Retina MacBook Pro still doing quite well for users in need of a premium 13" MacBook, Apple is probably in no rush to update the Air, especially in an already-difficult PC environment. Why shouldn't Apple try to milk as much as it can out of a given design until it can offer something that's unequivocally better, especially given that the current designs are already enough to drive market share gains?

Foolish bottom line
The odds of Apple introducing a next-generation MacBook Air at WWDC 2014 as it did last year are pretty low. Without the next-generation Broadwell chip from Intel to enable more performance in an even more attractive form factor, there wouldn't be a point to refreshing the MacBook Air by June. Who knows, though? The Apple/Intel relationship is rather deep, and if Apple really wants a Broadwell-based MacBook Air out in June, then these two companies could work together to make it happen.

Do you want in on the next Apple?
Let's face it, every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. Like buying PC-maker Dell in the late 1980s, before the consumer computing boom. Or purchasing stock in e-commerce pioneer Amazon.com in the late 1990s, when it was nothing more than an upstart online bookstore. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lockstep with its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 2894985, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 7/23/2014 12:40:54 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement