While the current MacBook Air is certainly popular, accounting for nearly a third of Apple’s notebook shipments, I wonder how much more popular it would have been if Apple had originally produced a 15-inch version of the tablet.
A 15-inch MacBook Air would have more potential to sway people away from beefier MacBook Pro models due to its larger screen, and according to 9to5Mac, such a device was nearly a reality, but had to be scrapped at the last minute.
According to the report, Steve Jobs was prepared to unveil the device alongside its 11-inch and 13-inch counterparts in 2010, but it had to be canned at the last minute due to design issues – it used the same hinge as the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, but that hinge was unable to support the larger screen:
In late testing, these 15-inchers, which had the same hinges as the smaller Airs, were failing to reliably hold the weight of, and stay affixed to, the larger bezel/screens. Within weeks of production, Apple made the decision that a whole new hinge would have to be designed. Unfortunately, the 15-inch Air would have to to be skipped for the current product cycle.
Personally, I call bullshit on this. A 15″ display does not weight significant more than a 13″ display, and the hinge displays on the 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air don’t seem to be so weak that they could not withstand an extra ounce or two, especially distributed across the entirety of the display.
Prototypes of the 15″ MacBook Air are reportedly still floating around Apple’s campus, and Apple is reportedly preparing to release a 15″ version of the MacBook Air in 2012, which lines up with recent rumors regarding an ultra-thin 15″ MacBook to be released early next year.
Frankly, I don’t put a great deal of credibility in this rumor – it seems extremely unlikely that a hinge capable of handling a 13″ display would be “unable to support” a screen just two inches larger.
While I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple released a 15″ MacBook Air next year, it’s equally likely that next years rumored ultra-thin 15″ MacBook could be a substantially redesigned MacBook Pro.