New MacBook Air could bridge iPad-MacBook gap

The iPad has gained traction at businesses, but it remains to be seen if there's a place for the rumored MacBook Air.

Rumors are flying that Apple is soon to release the new MacBook Air, a 13.3-inch laptop, in hopes that it will capitalize on iPad business sales and boost interest in a Mac laptop at Apple's "Back to the Mac" event Wednesday.

The MacBook Air reportedly will run on a new platform, the OS x 10.7, or Lion, and may have iOS integration, something that will be attractive to the thousands of businesses with iPads.

So far, around 60 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are already using iPads, and Apple hopes to sell around three million each month in the last quarter of 2010. What would make a great addition to an office that can sync to Apple's iOS? Why, the MacBook Air, of course.

The specifications of the MacBook Air are not revolutionary, but would make for a good laptop. The 1.86 GHz Core Duo processor, solid state drive, and 2GB of RAM are necessary for even an ultra-thin portable model.

And the MacBook Air is considered to bridge the gap between the iPad and the MacBook, offering a lighter alternative to a bulky laptop. It makes sense, considering the iPad is a 1.5-pound model and the MacBook Air weighs a slender three pounds (the regular MacBook is almost five pounds), and it may be a small adjustment for companies using the iOS to shift to Mac.

The rumors go on to suggest that Apple may be releasing multiple MacBooks and Macs that have different capabilities, likely ranging from a netbook-like MacBook to a fully-loaded model, probably each in different price ranges to appeal to a broader range of customers. If so, this will make it more attractive to business owners who might be willing to try a MacBook, provided initial investment isn't high.

But can the Mac take on an increasingly PC laptop world? It's unknown if it will make a huge dent in the enterprise market, but Apple's mobile iOS freight train in the boardroom shows no signs of slowing. With businesses embracing the iPhone and iPad, is it really inconceivable to see Apple selling a few MacBook Airs along the way?

Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter: @bhern.

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Barbara E. Hernandez

PC World (US online)
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