The 13-inch MacBook Air of today

Had Apple’s “next-generation of notebooks” announcement in October 2010 played out as planned, the MacBook family of today would look very different. In October 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs took the stage at the Apple Cupertino campus to unveil a preview of OS X Lion, FaceTime for Mac, iLife ’11 and the latest MacBook Air design as the closing “one more thing” announcement. That MacBook Air brought with it an all-new and thinner form-factor, a higher-resolution display, an incredibly light body, a large Multi-Touch single-button trackpad, flash SSD storage, and battery life improvements. 

Those aforementioned features, according to Apple, are what constitute the future of notebooks. This notebook announcement not only brought the successor to the previously available 13-inch MacBook Air, but brought along with it an 11-inch MacBook Air for the first time.

But these new notebooks weren’t the only planned pieces of the late 2010 MacBook Air story, though. Reliable sources have told us that not only were 13 and 11-inch models planned, but a groudbreaking new 15 inch MacBook Air was scheduled for a late 2010 release. Read on to learn about what could have been: 

This 15 inch MacBook Air looked exactly like the 13 and 11 inch MacBook Airs of today, and was built using many of the same parts.

But this was the problem. In late testing, these 15-inchers, which had the same hinges as the smaller Airs, were failing to reliably hold the weight of, and stay affixed to, the larger bezel/screens.  Within weeks of production, Apple made the decision that a whole new hinge would have to be designed. Unfortunately, the 15-inch Air would have to to be skipped for the current product cycle.

Prototypes of the 2010 15-inch MacBook Air are still floating around the Cupertino campus and even with its weak hinges, our sources have maintained an unhealthy amount of affection for these products.

Over the past year or so, Apple has apparently been working on a new ultra-thin 15 inch notebook – the replacement to what could have been.  These Airs will likely contain Intel’s new 22 nm Ivy Bridge processors which are not only faster with better on board graphics, but they also consume considerably less power. These processors are scheduled for release in early 2012 and we expect to see a re-designed 15-inch MacBook Air, along with updates to the MacBook Air line at the same time.

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