A rising star in the Apple constellation

MacBook Air surges to 28% of Apple's total notebook sales

For the past two years, the Apple products that have received the most attention by far have been the iPhone and iPad. There's no question.

So it's easy sometimes to forget that Apple has a few other products that do pretty well.

From Apple Insider:

Apple's MacBook Air models now make up 28 percent of the company's notebook shipments, up from just 8 percent in the first half of the year.

Research by Morgan Stanley involving NPD figures reported by analyst Katy Huberty indicate Apple's thin new MacBook Air models lacking an optical drive now account for more than a quarter of the company's notebooks.

Apple's notebook line includes three sizes of its MacBook Pro, a line of portable computers that debuted in 2006, along with the MacBook Air, which comes in 11- and 13-inch-screen versions.

The catalyst for the MacBook Air's sales surge was Thunderbolt, an interface for peripheral devices developed by Intel that began shipping in the thin notebooks in July. (Thunderbolt was released with the MacBook Pro five months earlier.)

(Also see: What you need to know about Thunderbolt)

Thunderbolt enables users to plug powerful peripheral multimedia devices into the MacBooks, giving the notebooks dramatic expansion capabilities. This makes the ultra-thin MacBook Air, which lacks an optical drive, an attractive option for Apple notebook shoppers since the Air starts at $999, versus the MacBook Pro's $1,199 starting price.

MacBook Air's share of Apple notebook sales jumped to 22% in July from 8% in June, rising each subsequent month to 28% in October, according to the research data.

In fact, MacBook Air's climb is accelerating. Share of Apple notebook sales climbed from 22% in July to 23% in August, 25% in September, and then the 28% reported for October.

With that kind of momentum, and rumors of a 15-inch MacBook Air coming next March, Apple appears to have a new star ascending.

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