Tuesday, June 6, 2023

When the M3 Chip Comes Out, Will Apple Upgrade the Smaller MacBook Air To It Or Keep It At M2 and Lower The Price?

I'm waiting for the M3 chip to come out before I pull the trigger on a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. I'm still secretly hoping for a 12" version but it looks more and more unlikely. So, I'm focused on the MacBook Air instead. Watching Youtube videos on the newly released MacBook Air with a bigger 15.3" screen versus the regular Air with 13.6" (why isn't it called Mabook Air with 14" screen since you would round up?), I'm realizing the 15" Air is now the flagship MacBook for the consumer.

Eventually, the Air will get upgraded to the M3 chip. The prevailing assumption is both versions of the Air will get the M3 ship. I'm going to step a bit back and ask what if Apple keeps the 13" Air with the M2 chip and lower the price from it's currently $1099 to $999. It may even keep the M1 version around where an even low price point could widen Apple reach.

Will it happen? I'm betting it could depend on one main factor: Apple's chip manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, aka TSMC. It will depend on the M3 yield. The M3 chip from Apple will be manufactured using the latest 3-nanometer process versus the M2 chip using an older 5nm process. 

Months ago, the speculation/rumors was that Apple was going to refresh the Air including introducing the 15" Air running on the M3 chip at this year's WWDC event. It makes sense since the MacBook Air with M2 was released at last year's WWDC event. Well, Apple did introduce the 15' Air but still using the M2 chip. 

Speculations and rumors aside, no one really knows except Apple what its chip roadmap is. Still, if TSMC is having yield issues, Apple had no choice but to release the 15" MacBook Air using the M2 if TMSC cannot produce enough M3 chips or have yet to ramp up.

Apple likely decided to make lemonade with the lemon of a situation it had on its hands. When M3 yield does improve but not the point that Apple needs, Apple may have no choice but to use whatever M3 chips it can get its hands on to upgrade 15" MacBook Air and keep the 13" Air at M2. There are advantages to Apple using different chip. It looks like the newer Air is going to be wildly popular judging by the response. Apple will sell tons of it and it will be  even more popular when it is upgraded with the M3 chip.

Meanwhile, the 13" Air with M2 will still have its own segment of the market at $1099 - I am sure it is yielding even better profit margin than ever before. And what if Apple lowers the price down to $999? The 13" Air at $999 will be flying off the shelves.

We will not know for sure next we get to the next MacBook Air upgrade cycle and when the M3 will be ready to be used in volume. Whatever Apple does, I am sure most Mac users will be quite happy. If Apple does keep the 13" Air using the M2 ship, some might disappointed. But hey, join the club. I'm still sore the 12" MacBook went the way of the dodo.

No comments:

MacBook Air M2 - I Love It And Any Laptop You Get Will Always Be Right For the Time

The 2016 MacBook sitting off to the side still has some value as I gleefully starting using my MacBook Air M2 that I got for a decent price ...