By Stephen Hackett
November 3, 2021 9:00 AM PT
It’s Time for Another ‘iMac to Go’
At Macworld New York in 1999, Apple filled out its “Grid of Four” with a consumer notebook called the iBook.
I’ve written about the iBook at length elsewhere, but the gist of the machine was pretty straightforward — Apple viewed it as an iMac to go.
Looking at the iBook, it’s not hard to see the family resemblance to the colorful, curvy iMac G3:
With the iBook, Apple was able to bring the fun and whimsy of the iMac to a portable computer that was unlike anything else on the market at the time. Its bright colors just screamed iMac!
During the introduction of the iBook, Steve Jobs said that taking the iMac spirit and putting it into a portable was about more than just the design; it was about making the best consumer notebook possible. That meant building the notebook around a 12-inch 800 x 600 display and powering the machine with a 300 MHz G3 processor coupled with the fastest possible graphics. In short, the iBook was faster than Windows notebooks, and second only to Apple’s own PowerBook in terms of power.
But the colorful iBook didn’t last. In 2001 Apple released a new iBook with a much more tame design, and Apple’s notebooks have been conservatively designed ever since.
It’s past time to spice that up. And making a MacBook Air (or two) with the spirit of the 24-inch M1 iMac would do just that.
In August, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that a new MacBook Air is in the works, sporting an all-new design similar to the design featured in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros — complete with flatter edges and MagSafe. Kuo also reported that the new Air would include a mini-LED display, which would be super impressive in a cheaper notebook.
YouTuber Jon Prosser reported back in May that a new MacBook Air would come in a range of colorful finishes, like the 24-inch iMac:
Prosser’s track record is not perfect, but some more traditionally reliable reporters, including Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, have also reported that color is coming to the MacBook Air in the future. MacRumors has compiled a list of evidence concerning these rumors, and it all seems very compelling.
Then there’s just the feel of the story. I mean, just look at this line and tell me Apple wouldn’t at least consider jumping into this:
So, imagining this MacBook Air concept render from MacRumors with a white-ish keyboard and bezel… I have no idea what color I want. I’m torn between green, orange and yellow. 💚💛🧡 I owned two white iBooks in years past and loved them, so I’m pumped. pic.twitter.com/xSw4LFdRVA
— Becky Hansmeyer (@bhansmeyer) October 22, 2021
I can very easily see a Mac lineup where the consumer iMac and notebook are colorful and fun, sharing many design elements. While I find the look of Apple’s pro-focused hardware a little boring, it’s likely that it will remain so.
Mind you, Apple is already doing this with the iPhone. The XR was bright and colorful, while the XS was cold and sterile. The same has gone for the 11, 12 and now 13 lines—the mainstream iPhones are colorful, while the Pro models are more subdued.1 It just makes sense to me that Apple would replicate this with the Mac. The 24-inch iMac is fantastic, and it should rub off on the MacBook Air.
- Same goes for the iPad. The iPad Pro’s powerful chassis comes in just two finishes, while the mini and Air can be had in a wider range of colors. For years, even the cases for the iPad Pro were less colorful than the ones for the other models. ↩
[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]