Desperate for the new MacBook Air? We’ve got some bad news

Apple MacBook Air (M1,2020)
(Image credit: Future)

MacBook production could be affected by current lockdowns in China due to Covid, and this might mean that Apple’s laptops planned for later this year (notably the MacBook Air 2022) may be delayed.

Respected Apple source, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, took to Twitter to highlight a report in the Nikkei Asia, and observed that all this could spell big trouble for the MacBooks due later in 2022.

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As Kuo observes, the problem is that Quanta is pretty much the “sole EMS supplier for MacBook”, an acronym for Electronics Manufacturing Services – meaning involvement in design issues (and more) as well as manufacturing – and that Quanta’s disrupted production means the MacBook is the most impacted hardware when it comes to the Chinese lockdowns (in Shanghai and elsewhere).

Apple’s iPhone and iPad will also be affected as you might imagine, with production suspended at Pegatron and Compal, but as Kuo notes this won’t be as big a deal because Foxconn can “partially support” the supply of iOS devices to mitigate the shortfall at least somewhat. (We discussed the impact on Apple’s iOS hardware in more detail here earlier this week, if you’re interested).

Analysis: MacBook Air delay in the cards?

Obviously this is not the news anyone keen to see new MacBooks wants to hear, with these laptops apparently set to take the brunt of Apple’s lockdown-related disruption – at least going by these sources (pinches of condiments to hand, as ever).

So what MacBooks are we talking about? The rumor mill reckons that Apple is planning to push out a redesigned MacBook Air (2022) this year, and perhaps also a refreshed entry-level MacBook Pro 13-inch.

Certainly the next MacBook Air is keenly awaited, with the grapevine consistently floating the idea that it’s set for launch in 2022 – probably in the second half of the year, with production kicking off most likely in Q3. (The most recent rumor theorizes Apple could actually reveal the new Air as early as WWDC in June, but we’re not sure we’re buying such an early appearance for the device).

If we’re looking at, say, a September on-shelf release date for the MacBook Air, or maybe even October, then it’s not difficult to see how any further major slippage in the supply chain and production schedules could push the new notebook out to the very end of the year, maybe – or even 2023?

Apple would certainly want to avoid the latter worst-case scenario, if what we’ve heard from the rumor mill is correct – namely that it was originally the company’s intention to get the revamped MacBook Air out late in 2021, so the device has already theoretically slid a fair distance in terms of launch timeframe. But then there’s not much that can be done, really, if the tale really is playing out as these reports suggest – the MacBook Air will be ready when it’s ready, and obviously enough, not before.

Naturally, these lockdowns won’t just affect Apple, but also other big notebook makers like Dell, HP and Lenovo, companies that’ll doubtless feel similar pressures on their production timelines, too.

Via Digital Trends

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).