The 'Book Review

MacBook Air 28% of Apple Notebook Sales, Firmware Update for Late 2011 MacBook Pros, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.11.18

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

MacBook Air Now 28% of Apple's Notebook Sales

Citing research by Morgan Stanley based on NPD figures reported by analyst Katy Huberty, AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger reports that Apple's MacBook Air models now make up 28% of the company's notebook shipments, up from just 8% in the first half of the year, with MacBook Air models lacking now accounting for more than a quarter of the company's notebook sales.

Dilger notes that the MacBook Air's share of Apple's notebook mix grew dramatically following the summer enhancements that brought Thunderbolt, making the new models potentially more expandable than ever, even though relatively few Thunderbolt devices have yet appeared.

MacBook Air's Importance to Apple on the Rise

Cnet's Don Reisinger observes that Apple's MacBook Air has become a sales juggernaut, according to new research from NPD and Morgan Stanley, with data compiled by the companies and obtained by Apple Insider (above) indicating that the MacBook Air accounted for a whopping 28% of all Apple notebook shipments to the US in October, up from just 8% in May and June, a watershed being July's release of updated Airs with Sandy Bridge Core-i CPUs and the Thunderbolt I/O interface. Reisinger also cites Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar musing that the MacBook Air is so appealing to consumers, it might be "cannibalizing the iPad."

MacBook Air a Huge Hit for Apple

Sci-Tech Today's Adam Dickter cites research from NPD Group and Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty indicating that Apple's MacBook Air is a runaway hit, now accounting for more than a quarter of the company's notebook sales - 28% in October.

Dickter also cites the late Steve Jobs 2010 saying (back in) that Apple had tried to incorporate technology from its successful iPad introduced earlier that year, asking, "what would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up? Well, this is the result: We think it's the future of notebooks."

Jobsian perspicacity, as usual.

Recycle the SuperDrive from a Unibody MacBook

Storeva USB 2.0 Slim Burner CaseHardmac's Lionel observes that more and more users are crossing the line and replacing the SuperDrive in their MacBook Pro with an SSD or a second hard drive, but it has been difficult or impossible to find a case to accommodate the pulled SuperDrive in order to be able to use it from time to time.

He notes that Macway in France just announced a case (see below) where the SuperDrive will fit perfectly. Offered for less than 25 Euros, it's much cheaper that the expensive ($79!) external SuperDrive available from Apple.

MacBook Shipments to Remain Stable in Holiday Quarter

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that despite rumors about Apple perhaps reducing its shipment forecast for the fourth quarter spreading around in the IT market due to the company's unibody metal chassis supplier Catcher Technology being ordered to halt production and floods in Thailand greatly impacting hard drive supply, sources from Apple's upstream suppliers are saying that Apple has not yet downgraded its shipment forecast for the fourth quarter.

With Catcher having ironed out its odor-emission troubles, it is expected to soon resume its production, Lee and Tsai's sources noted, and Apple's ODM partner Quanta Computer also achieved notebook shipments of 5.3 million units in October, and while the company refuses to reveal its clients' shipment status, insider sources reveal that the increase in shipments was mainly thanks to Apple's orders, especially for the MacBook Pro.

Apple Working on Fix for Lion Battery Issues on Older MacBooks?

AppleInsider's Neil Hughes reports:

"As some users continue to report battery life issues running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on older MacBooks, Apple continues to look into the problem in hopes of finding a solution."

In some cases, users are getting less than one hour of use from a battery that had provided 8 hours before the upgrade to OS X 10.7 Lion.

Rumor Roundup

Components for Ultra-thin 15" MacBooks May Be Shipping

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that that parts shipments for the the ultra-thin 15" MacBook rumored to be coming in March may already have commenced, with Apple's upstream suppliers having recently begun shipping a small volume of components for a notebook model that could be either a MacBook Air or a thinner MacBook Pro expected to appear as early as the second quarter of 2012.

Lee and Tsai also note that Acer is set to launch a 15" version of its Aspire S3 ultrabook in Q2 2012 at the earliest, with Asustek Computer also planning to launch a 15" ZenBook model, but as yet hasn't scheduled mass production or launch.

One operative question is whether these 15" ultra-thins will come with internal optical drives.

Apple Updates

SMC Firmware Update 1.5 for Late 2011 MacBook Pros

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says the MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5 resolves an issue where a MacBook Pro being used with a power adapter may unexpectedly shut down under heavy workload if the battery charge level is near empty.

To install the update, your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source or your battery must be at least 25% charged.

When your computer restarts, a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Your computer's fans will run at full speed during the update but will return to normal speed once the update completes.

File Size: 730 KB

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8
  • OS X 10.7.2

Publisher's note: Apple does not indicate which MacBook Pro models this applies to (a bad habit in recent years), but it looks like it's just for the Late 2011 models.

Video Update for 15" 2010 MacBook Pro

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says that the MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard) addresses an issue where MacBook Pro (15" Mid 2010) computers may intermittently freeze or stop displaying video.

File Size: 51.45 MB

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.8

Tech Trends

MacBook Air vs. Asus Zenbook

Blogger Shelly Palmer says he loves his new MacBook Air, which is is truly everything he ever wanted in a laptop - light, fast, and with enough horsepower to accomplish even the most difficult computing tasks. If you're a Mac person, he observes there is nothing about this computer that you're not going to love.

But what if you're not a Mac person? While you can run Windows on Macs, that's not always a perfect solution due to the vicissitudes associated with several operating systems on a Mac, and, says Palmer, "purchasing a MacBook Air and single booting it in Windows is a crime against man, God, and nature."

Palmer says the solution could be the new Asus Zenbook Ultrabook, which for all intents and purposes amounts to a Windows version of the MacBook Air at similar specs and price points. Both have well-made metal cases, and the Zenbook is only a little heavier than the MacBook Air, with the biggest differences being that MacBook Airs run OS X Lion and Zenbooks run Windows 7.

After running the Asus Zenbook through its paces, Palmer allows that he's got nothing but praise for it - the Intel i5 processor rocked every speed and memory test, and as with his MacBook Air, the Zenbook is powerful enough to be a complete laptop replacement.

Products & Services

Storeva Slim USB 2.0 Enclosure Case for Pulled MacBook/MacBook Pro Unibody SuperDrives

PR: Recycle your SuperDrive MacBook/MacBook Pro with this unibody USB 2.0 enclosure.

Storeva USB 2.0 Slim Burner CaseThe Storeva USB 2.0 Slim Burner Case external casing especially designed for SATA SuperDrives pulled from MacBook and MacBook Pro unibodys is is ideal for recycling these drives when you install a second hard drive or SSD in the computer's optical bay. It features a rugged finish aluminum look similar to a unibody MacBook Pro. Installation is simple and requires no screws, and in seconds, the SuperDrive is transformed into a bootable external USB 2.0 powered peripheral drive.

Storeva USB 2.0 Slim Burner CaseFeatures:

  • Used to retrieve the SATA SuperDrive a MacBook/MacBook Pro unibody turning it into an external drive
  • Plastic, aluminum-look finish
  • Base black metal incorporating a slip zone
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Powered via USB, bootable
  • Dimensions: 142 x 139 x 18 mm
  • Weight: 125 g (without drive)

System Requirements

  • SATA SuperDrive from unibody MacBook or MacBook Pro

Compatible systems:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)
  • Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)

Euro 24.90 including 0.03 for green tax

Publisher's note: OWC has a similar enclosure for $39.99.

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

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