Apple has plans to release a new laptop with low price and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year. This will mark an ending to a drought of Mac computers that has limited sales of the company’s longest-running line of devices, according to people familiar with the plans. This new laptop will look just like the current MacBook Air but the display will remain about 13-inches, will be a higher-resolution “Retina” version that Apple uses on other products, the people said. The current MacBook Air, which costs $1,000 will continue to be Apple best laptop with proper Retina display. The MacBook Air was last updated with a faster processor option last year, but hasn’t seen a major overhaul in several years. The 12-inch MacBook launched in 2015 was seen as a replacement to the MacBook Air, but its $1,300 starting price put it out of reach for some consumers although the new MacBook Air will be geared toward consumers looking for a cheaper Apple computer, but also schools that often buy laptops in bulk.
The Mac has sold so much but some loyal users have complained that recent updates haven’t met their professional needs. Apple has plans to settle this issue in the new high-end iMac Pro and a new MacBook Pro with an updated keyboard and faster processor options. Later in the third quarter this year, the company said it sold 3.7 million Macs, the fewest in a quarter since 2010. And Apple lags other companies in the education market. Chromebooks, cheaper laptops running Google’s Chrome operating system, accounted for 60 percent of devices shipped to K-12 U.S. education institutions in the final quarter of 2017, according to Futuresource Consulting Ltd.
“HP and Lenovo have released products priced similarly to the MacBook Air, gaining share, and in order to remain competitive in that price point, we think a form-factor change is necessary,” Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research, said. “It should help them rebound some of their Mac sales as things have been getting a bit long on the tooth in terms of their Mac line as they’ve clearly been very focused on the iPhone and services businesses.”
Apple is also planning the first upgrade to the Mac mini in about four years. This will be a Mac desktop that doesn’t include a screen, keyboard, or mouse in the box and costs $500. The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers. For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions, the people said.
In addition to the new Mac models, Apple is preparing to launch macOS Mojave, a new version of its Mac operating system that adds new features for sorting files and the ability to run iPad apps like Apple News. The company is also planning a new version of the Mac Pro, the company’s most high-end Mac, for next year, Apple has said.