COVID-related closures in China may affect its launch date
Apple is poised to reveal a new MacBook Air at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, but even if it does, you may not be able to immediately buy one. According to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, COVID-19 shutdowns at the Chinese plants that make MacBooks might mean a limited supply of new devices or a release date that’s further off.
China’s zero-COVID policy has led to the temporary closure of factories that make Apple products, including Pegatron and Quanta. Although China has begun to relax some of the movement restrictions it initially reinstated in March, some neighborhoods in Shanghai still remain under lockdown.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Apple to ship about six to seven million new MacBook Airs before the third quarter of this year if Quanta’s production capacity returns to pre-lockdown levels. He also believes that there may be more shipments of the new MacBook Air when compared to existing shipments of the 14 to 16-inch MacBook Pros the new MacBook Air is set to be shipped by both Quanta and Foxconn, while the MacBook Pro is shipped only by Quanta. Apple currently has new MacBook Pro orders on hold until late July due to closures and part shortages.
Both Gurman and Ming-Chi Kuo agree that the upcoming MacBook Air won’t come in a wide array of colors. It’s more likely to feature a couple of standard options like the existing space gray and silver, with the addition of two new colors, including a dark blue and a “champagne-like gold.” Gurman also thinks the MacBook Air will come with a 13-inch display, two USB-C ports, MagSafe charging capabilities, and Touch ID. It’s not expected to come with a Touch Bar, and might even feature a notch like the MacBook Pro.
In terms of a new MacBook Pro, Gurman says Apple originally planned for the release of a “faster” 13-inch version of the device around the time of the Air’s launch. However, this date has reportedly been pushed back due to COVID-related lockdowns in China.
The introduction of a new MacBook Air, which will likely come with an M1 processor, is expected to be a huge part of Apple’s fast-approaching WWDC event on Monday but so is Apple’s mixed reality headset project, even if Apple doesn’t explicitly mention it. As Apple looks to move beyond its existing devices and the software paired with them, WWDC is expected to have an undercurrent dominated by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
As noted by both Gurman and a report from The New York Times, Apple is set to show off new tools for developers that allow them to incorporate mixed reality features into their apps ahead of the headset’s expected release in 2023. Gurman notes that Apple is working on adding AR and VR features into its own apps as well, potentially creating VR versions of FaceTime, Maps, Notes, and Calendar, and a way to view a Mac’s display through the headset.