The Black MacBook, 2006-2008: May It Rest in Peace

By  |  Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 10:33 pm

So Apple released two brand-new laptops today. It also did minor refreshes of the MacBook Air (which will be around for years to come) and the 17-inch MacBook Pro (which is probably toast, long-term). And it kept the white MacBook in the lineup but knocked its price down by $100.

But it also killed a notebook. One which I own two of, both of which I’ve logged many hundreds of hours using. I speak of the black MacBook–which was on sale to anyone who wanted one on Apple.com yesterday and is gone, gone, gone today.

It’s kind of shocking: Nobody onstage today even felt the need to justify the move. (Now that I think about it, I should have used the time I got to ask a question during the Q&A to demand an explanation–if not to cause an ugly scene.)

I bought my first black MacBook on May 16th, 2006–the day the MacBook debuted–and first wrote about it later  that very day on PCWorld.com. We went through some tough times together: Mine, like more than a few early MacBooks, had a tendency to crash without warning. I wrote about that, too. Repeatedly. Along the way, Apple replaced its motherboard–and later decided the whole dang computer was a lemon and replaced it. That one developed nasty cracks in its case; so did the faster model I bought to replace it. (The main reason I know that Genius Bar service is so impressive is because I spent so much time talking to the Geniuses at my local Apple Store, seeking help for my ailing MacBook.)

I haven’t even acknowledged the fact that for some is the first thing that leaps to mind about the black MacBook: It cost $150 more than an identically-configured MacBook in a shiny white case. Yes, I paid the “sucker tax.” So, apparently, did lots of other folks, or the black MacBook wouldn’t have stayed in the lineup for as long as it did. (The black matte finish just looked more businesslike–to me, the black MacBook had a crisper, more corporate look and feel than the pricer and supposedly more professional MacBook Pro.) For months, friends, relatives, and random strangers on airplanes mocked me for paying $150 for a color: I gritted my teeth and soldiered on.

I’m trying to channel Apple here, but if the main purpose of the black MacBook was to provide a more businessy-looking MacBook than the white one, I can see why the arrival of a metal-clad model would render it superfluous. I guess. Aluminum, apparently, is the new black.

The black MacBook hasn’t quite disappeared from the face of the earth–it’s still on sale at BestBuy.com, and I bet it’ll be a little while until the sales channel’s supply is completely depleted. I’m not quite ready to rush out and stock up on them. (Truth to tell, I moved on to a MacBook Pro as my main machine earlier this year, though I still have use of my black MacBooks as a backup and the other is on long-term loan to a friend.)

Now that I think of it, though, black MacBooks should continue to be available, albeit in an unusual form: A company called ColorWare does custom paint jobs on Macs and other computers, and two blacks–Jet Black and Carbon Black–are in its pallette. I’m not saying I’ll ever buy one, but it’s kind of comfortable to know that I could…

 
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18 Comments For This Post

  1. dAlen Says:

    Apples pro days are over.
    Those that watched the webcast saw this to be the case.

    A “New” 17 laptop (thats what it says in the store) apparently still sports the faulty Nvidia card. (the one that all the sites were reporting on months ago it seems and Apple just admitted to.)

    No…pro now just means advanced enthusiast.
    You are a consumer and like to shoot video and its not tapless but uses firewire.
    Then since the macbook is the #1 selling mac, why not spend some more cash on a ‘pro’ where you can get an adapter to plug into the firewire 800 port.

    Yes, Apple is looking to get more money from those who go after the macbooks.

    Ipod, Iphone, Ibook (thats what they are)…its consumer land.

    Pros will buy, yes…for the time. But this alone does not a pro machine make. ;)

    Peace

    dAlen

  2. Daniel Says:

    I disagree with the first comment. It’s not that Apple isn’t upscale, it’s that you no longer need a ridiculous laptop to do professional work. CPU power has increased faster than the need for it. For instance, I do a lot of editing work for FOX TV and such. I’m talking about as high-end HD as you can get, and my middle-model MacBook from over a year ago can pump out 1080p footage from Final Cut Pro in its sleep.

    So I say that, in fact, the opposite is true. Instead of every Apple laptop now being a consumer machine, I say that every Apple laptop is now a professional machine. And the aluminum casings and high-end features not available on any other PC in the world currently (the step-down graphics card and glass touchpad come to mind) would indeed seem to show that Apple is producing some upper-class stuff that isn’t just for consumers.

  3. Relyt Says:

    No offence Harry – but my though is that its just a black macbook. Nothing special, just a color.

    I also find it funny how people flock to the apple related posts – Apple really is a consumer company!

  4. Mike Brady Says:

    Harry,
    Well written and strangly on point. I bought a used black mac a few months ago and am very fond of it — but was even more fond of the idea of a black macbook. (Sometimes I only see shadows — but with apple, I see the form.) It’s very hard to imagine HP making a white version of a DV2000 and charging $200 extra just for the color.
    It’s like selling fire and charging extra for the smoke — you have got to love concept they are selling.

  5. Mattias Says:

    I LOVE the blackbook, I’v got two of them. I really hope that apple will do a black version of the new macbook, otherwise: “No macbook for me!”. Oh, by the way I would easily pay 200 $ extra just to get it in black, style has nothing to do with the cost of anything.

  6. Marcio Pocciotti Says:

    I bought my first black, payed the “sucker’s fee” because it is just good looking. I have always bought Apple’s products because I (also) like the design. When I saw the new macbooks and pros and didn’t see the black anymore I understood that Apple discontinued them. That first black I passed on to a friend, bought myself a Aluminium Pro 6 months after that (just because I couldn’t get another black, the 2.4, during a trip to the US; none available).
    Then, I had to hurry and find a black, so I got one (maybe one of the last) at the refurbished store at the Apple website (just when I got my first black which was also refurbished). I’ll get it and keep it next time I go to the US. It will be waiting for me at a friend’s house.
    The thing I don’t like about Apple laptops is that the Apple Logo on top of them is too big. I guess that is so people can identify them easily when they appear in the movies. Apple should make them smaller and not in the center, but on top to the side.

    Cheers,

    Marcio Pocciotti

  7. Maarten Says:

    I think Apple is losing their identity with their design change-over. I liked the combination of white, black and chrome in their products. All those things are completely disappearing. Now it’s boring aluminum wich is a “cold” and “feelingless” material, I think. The former materials were glamourous and ultra-stylish. Now Apple disappoints me A LOT!

  8. Sarah Farmakidis Says:

    I too was one that got suckered into spending $300Aus for the black macbook. It has however served me well despite the fact that I am now replacing the hard drive for the second time!

    I will miss my 13″ screen but at least when I upgrade I won’t need my spectacles!

  9. Brah Says:

    I’m also a proud owner of a Black MacBook, I bought mine in 2007 after upgrading from my Black Pismo Powerbook which continues to serve me well this day..

    I also bought a used Black MacBook off E-Bay for my sister for a reasonable price. In the end Apple may not sell the Black MacBook anymore but it will always be available online such as E-Bay..

  10. JR Says:

    still using my first gen blackbook bought in Aug 2006. Still runs great just got the handrest replaced cause it started chipping and cracking.

  11. Leif Says:

    I paid the “sucker tax” too. Hell, yeah…I’d do it again.
    Let me eat top-ramon for a month and buy my socks at Costo, I don’t care… Give me the the black one!
    Yesterday I saw a black macbook at Best Buy on 5th Ave. It was a demo model and was as used-looking as a Manilla street-walker during fleet week, and I still almost shelled-out the $900.
    I love my new macbook (it is the finest laptop that has ever been created, period..) but I really loved color of my old black macbook.
    Word…

    leif
    NYC

  12. Mark Zieg Says:

    It wasn’t entirely a “sucker tax” (at least, not at every Apple Store). The black MacBook I bought came with more RAM and a slightly bigger HD than the cheaper white models available at the time. (Counting my work box, I now have one of each :-)

  13. joolz Says:

    ive had my blackbook for 3 years now – its served me very well over the years and copped a lot bit of abuse – unless i’m travelling its always turned on, and disc is always turning with torrents etc… I finally broke it yesterday (the screen anyhow, dont ask, Ok I sat on it) and now I’m faced with a repair bill, trying to source another blackbook from somewhere, or gasp… buying an awful looking, but better spec, white one)..
    Pleeeease apple bring back the blackbook – i’ll pay the extra $200 for it!

  14. forgiste Says:

    I got my black macbook a few months after release, and have not had a single problem with it to this day. The battery does say it needs to be replaced, but it hasn't caught fire and it still holds a charge, somewhat.

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  16. Laguna Beach Water Damage Says:

    Intriguing method. I’m suprised I dont notice this on all the large news sites very first. Nicely played!

  17. Nick Says:

    It's not too late to resurrect the black MacBook. There's still a unibody MacBook and it's probably one of the best Macs ever, but it's only in white.
    Well it's not too late to introduce it into black, because it's a stupid idea for them not too. There's 3 MacBook Pros, 2 MacBook Airs, they're all great, but 1 MacBook, which not AS MUCH people buy, however if there's 2 MacBooks, there's more business for Apple, then there's a family again for MacBooks.

    Besides, just picture a laptop that's black, glossy, and it's in the new unibody design.

  18. greg Says:

    the reason you pay the sucker tax is to keep your palm rests from becoming a very nasty looking beige after 6 months to a year i paid it too and am still using it as my daily laptop

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