By Harry McCracken | 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…