Evidence Mounts for MacBook Air 3G

Feb 15, 2011 - 10 Comments

macbook-air-3g

Evidence continues to suggest that Apple is deeply interested in bringing 3G communications inside future Macs, particularly the MacBook Air. Let’s look at two pieces of recent evidence to see if a MacBook Air 3G is destined for a future release.

Customer Survey Inquires About 3G Use & MacBook Air
AppleInsider is reporting that select MacBook Air 2010 customers have received an interesting survey that includes several questions regarding 3G wireless use and the MacBook Air. Specific questions include what type of 3G connections are used with the MacBook Air, how often 3G is used with MacBook Air, and what would cause the MacBook Air owner to use 3G instead of WiFi.

Patent Shows 3G Antenna Behind the Apple Logo
Late last year PatentlyApple discovered several patents that indicate Apple has increased interest in developing hardware with built-in 3G compatibility. The most interesting patent clearly shows Mac laptops with a GSM compatible cellular antenna behind the Apple logo. PatentlyApple said:

This new antenna is to hide behind the famous Apple logo thereby allowing it to gain a stronger signal without intervening metal or other conductive housing walls interfering. It’s interesting to note that this is Apple’s third telephonic Macbook related patent in the second half of 2010 and would all but confirm this is a definite trend Apple is focused on

The patent then goes on to detail the that the logo antennas would cover a wide spectrum of wireless communications, including WiFi, GSM, and GPS. Here is one of the images from the patent:

macbook-logo-3g-antennas

3G Apple Hardware
The idea that 3G communications would come to the Mac line is hardly far fetched. Apple already builds multiple 3G devices, including the iPad and iPhone, why not bring 3G to their portable Mac line? This seems like one of the next logical steps in the MacBook lines feature set.

Conspiracy & Opinion
Now for some quick conspiracy theory and opinion here… the patent is obviously telling, but I think what’s more interesting is the customer survey asking MacBook Air owners about 3G use. Apple knows that anything they say or do will be heavily scrutinized, praised, reviewed, dissected, and speculated over. If you were a conspiracy theorist, you could almost view this 3G survey as a controlled leak by Apple, where they are both building anticipation and measuring the response to a MacBook Air 3G (or MacBook Pro 3G for that matter) long before announcing any such device.

Yet Another Data Plan?
I think the only problem with a MacBook Air 3G is that it would lead to yet another data plan. Imagine you already have an iPad 3G and an iPhone, you’re already paying for two different data plans. If you bought a MacBook Air 3G would you have to pay for yet another plan? That’s a bit silly isn’t it? Consumers clearly want an all-inclusive data plan that covers all their devices, but since these aren’t offered reasonably through carriers, users result to things like jailbreaking an iPhone to setup a wireless hotspot which can then be shared across their hardware. This isn’t Apple’s problem though, this is the cell carriers problem, and hopefully it’s one that gets resolved soon.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac, Rumor

10 Comments

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  1. […] off the heals of iPhone Mini and MacBook Air 3G rumors, there’s even more iPhone 5 rumors circulating. The latest is a claim that, like the […]

  2. Peter says:

    I’d buy one in a heartbeat

  3. Randy Johnson says:

    This is blatantly stupid idea.

  4. Nihar says:

    I don’t think there is any punch to the idea of surfing the internet through 3G on a laptop just yet. There is much to be said about the unrestricted mobility it promises, but not so much about the speed, which is essential.

  5. @cpm5280 says:

    Some kind of wide-area data connection for laptops/netbooks is a fine idea. But the idea that existing 3G (and even near-term 4G) will be able to cut the mustard is absurd. AT&T has been a disaster in every way, both in therms of cost & customer service, and in the even more important realm of service that WORKS. Verizon won’t be able to do it, either, in the relevant timeframe for a 2011 release.

  6. […] rumors peg a new MacBook Pro to be released sometime in the next two months, maybe even alongside a MacBook Air 3G, and most of those rumors suggest the next MacBook Pro will take some design cues from the MacBook […]

  7. Camm says:

    About time; considering these things are supposed to be ultraportable and nearly all the HP laptops here at work have it.

    Clone a simcard I guess for the data side? But yeah, definite hurdle.

  8. Anna says:

    I’m about to buy my first mac, and I’ve decided it to be the air, but I would certainly wait if I could get portable internet!

  9. […] that said, Apple has recently solicited feedback from MacBook Air owners about 3G connectivity and usage, and has also patented antenna designs that show a 3G enabled Mac laptop, suggesting that Macs with […]

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