While Apple Watch was the headline product of yesterday's keynote, the new Macbook is by far the most interesting news.
It's been many years since we had a proper 'MacBook'. The white plastic MacBook was discontinued in July 2011 and since then, Apple's line has consisted of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The MacBook was always positioned as the entry level portable Mac and it's important to remember when looking at the 2015 Macbook.
Many expected the new MacBook to replace the MacBook Air. It shares many characteristics as the current Airs as well as a few great updates including a retina display, thinner body, and a better trackpad and keyboard. But the MacBook Air line has continued to live on albeit with faster processors.
Here in lies the difference. The Air is now positioned between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. The Air offers upgrades like adding more RAM, faster CPU, and more storage. The new MacBook comes in 2 basic models with limited upgrades available. It's the iPad of the Mac world. In fact, it's positioned so much like an iPad that it comes in 2 colors and 2 configurations.
The addition of the new MacBook makes the MacBook Air line look antiquated and bulky. The Air is for people who want a faster processor than the basic M-class included in the MacBook as well as more than 8GB RAM or a larger display than 12 inch. The MacBook Air is also the only Apple product remaining that ships without a retina display. It's low-hanging fruit and I'll bet 2015 will be the year Apple completes the Retina transition.
The new MacBook is positioned as the future of Apple portables. The 13-inch MacBook Pro received the tactic trackpad upgrade and faster CPUs but the 15-inch curiously didn't. Apple has purposely left room for a future announcement with a new generation of MacBook Airs and larger MacBook Pros. Your guess is as good as mine but I think these future devices are dependant on new software features in OS X 10.11 or 10.10.4.
And then there's USB-C port. The new MacBook includes the new connector which promises to replace USB 3, Display, and HDMI. In fact, there are no other ports on the device which has allowed it to be so thin. In fact, the M-class chipset in this MacBook doesn't support Thunderbolt. This isn't a sign of Apple killing Thunderbolt, it strictly isn't supported by Intel.
The new MacBook isn't for people who are plugging in storage devices or external displays. The new MacBook is for users who love iPad but want a traditional desktop. It's perfect for writers and casual Safari browsing. This isn't a machine you'll be running Xcode on all day. This is for your mom, a student, a blogger.
The MacBook Air isn't going anywhere; the next generation will blow the MacBook away.