There have long been rumors of a replacement for the MacBook Air. This 13-inch machine is likely to adopt the same form-factor as the existing 12-inch MacBook, and will probably drop the Air branding.

A new email received from Apple suggests that the new model will indeed be announced at its event on October 30

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A K-12 education customer recently placed an order for a MacBook Air, iPad and Apple Pencil. The iPad and Pencil shipped, but the school received an email stating that the MacBook Air is delayed, and will now ship on October 30.

With Apple’s event on the same day expected to include the announcement of an all-new 13-inch MacBook, that seems unlikely to be coincidence. The least-exciting possibility would be a minor spec-bump to the existing Air, but that would be pretty crazy given that the machine is now ancient when viewed alongside the rest of the MacBook line-up, so the smart money is definitely on a new MacBook Air replacement.

The order was for the higher-spec 256GB model, whose retail price is $1199 (though schools pay less). Given that the email makes no mention of any price change, it seems that the school will be charged the same amount for the new machine.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that a new 256GB model will be priced identically – it’s possible Apple is cutting them a deal – but does suggest that it won’t be less than this, and is likely somewhere in this ballpark.

It would also fit in with the lineup I predicted back in the summer.

So here’s what might happen:

  • Apple finally kills the MacBook Air
  • The entry-level 12-inch MacBook price falls to $999
  • The rumored new 13-inch machine comes in at $1199

The new machine thus bridges the gap between the $999 MacBook and MacBook Pro ranges. It carries the MacBook branding, and is the machine you step up to if you want something more powerful than the entry-level machine but don’t want to get into MacBook Pro territory.

A Digitimes report suggested the $1200 price-tag for the MacBook Air replacement.

The email does state that shipping times are subject to change, so it’s not certain that the new model will be available on October 30.

We recently rounded up what else we’re expecting from next week’s event. This includes the two new iPad Pro models, 11-inch and 12.9-inch; a new Mac mini – finally – with modern specs perhaps matched by a higher starting price; and a possible update to the iMac.

Are you in the market for a MacBook Air replacement? And would $1200 seem a worthwhile price for a MacBook-style form-factor and significantly boosted specs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo: Jason Snell/Macworld


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