There was a time when Apple used to be the trend-setter in electronics. With the ipod, Apple showed how the user interface of a device could revolutionize how we experienced the device. With the iphone, Apple ushered in a brand new era of mobile apps and computing. With the Macbook, Apple started the trend of implementing 1080p+ resolution screens on laptops. But today, Apple’s innovative juices are running dry and it shows both in the 2013 and 2014 Macbook Air.
Apple debuted the 2013 Macbook Air last June and surprised many people not due to the amazing performance or some nifty feature in the device but due to the lack of a particular component: a high-resolution screen. There had been a time when all other PC manufacturers were playing catch-up to befit their computers with high-definition displays like the ones in the Macbook pros but it was already 2013 and not only did all PC laptops have high-definition displays, but PC ultrabooks of similar thinness to the Macbook Air were also sporting high-definition displays. It had gotten to the point where it was almost supposed to be a given that the 2013 Macbook Air would be released with a Retina Display like the one in its brother, the Macbook Pro.
But no, Apple for some reason decided to simply keep the already-ancient 1280 x 768 resolution in its 2013 Macbook Air and take advantage of Intel’s new, power-efficient Haswell processor to increase the battery life of its Air lineup. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to choose better battery life but doing so at the cost of a technology that had already become standard for the better part of 10 months can only mean one thing: Apple is falling behind in innovation.
You see, the reason why Apple decided to go with increased battery life over a Retina display was that had they simply befitted a Retina display on the 2013 Macbook Air, there would have been nothing about the 2013 Macbook Air to distinguish itself from the mass of PC ultrabooks that had already held high-definition displays since 2012. But by going with the increased battery life-route, Apple could reestablish its position as an innovative leader by touting its Macbook Air as a revolutionary product since it had the longest battery life of any laptop. The thing is, many of the other PC ultrabooks and laptops already with HD displays could have attained similar battery life with Haswell had they also forgone a power-hungry HD display.
So naturally, people came to expect the 2014 Macbook Air to finally come with the long overdue Retina display while maintaining the long battery life of its 2013 predecessor but that’s not what happened. The 2014 Macbook Air is actually the exact same product as the 2013 version, minus a 0.1Ghz difference in processor clock speed which should quite literally, make no difference in speed felt by the user. The only difference is a $100 price cut.
Now, one could argue that this is Apple’s way of simply trying to get rid of existing Macbook Air inventory in preparation for a brand new 2014 Air release in the fall but if they were sincerely trying to do this, they would have simply cut the price of the 2013 Air by $100 and left it at that. But Apple took the time and effort to try to market the 2014 Macbook Air as a “refresh” when really, it was just the same product as the 2013 Air. Through these actions, Apple is admitting that they don’t have the technological innovation and capacity to be able to maintain the 2013 Macbook Air’s battery-life figures while using a power-hungry Retina display and hence, won’t be able to release a meaningful update to the Air until after the next generation of Intel processors are released in 2015. This is in stark contrast to what Apple used to be like when it dictated the direction of technological progress through its innovation. Today, Apple is but a shell of its former self and is a technological company that simply releases solid, but uninteresting products.