[MacBook Air Teardown] No Information on Release Date [Part 1]

Feb 15, 2008
Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad
A black bag for MacBook Air
A black bag for MacBook Air
[Click to enlarge image]
Luxurious mat-like surface
Luxurious mat-like surface
[Click to enlarge image]
Slim enough to fit in a B4-size envelope
Slim enough to fit in a B4-size envelope
[Click to enlarge image]

It was 18:10 on Feb 12. My mobile phone was ringing. On the display was an easy-to-remember number ending with "00." Though the number did not look familiar, I vaguely remembered seeing it somewhere. The phone stopped ringing before I knew it.

When I called back, an answering machine took the call saying, "This is Apple Store Ginza." Oh, no. Is it finally available? I heard a recorded voice keep on saying, "Please hold." I held on for a long time, but nobody ever came on the line.

"You must go to the store right now." Urged by my colleagues, I put on my coat. "I'll just have a try." Though I was not sure whether the MacBook Air was available, I left the office at a trot.

I must have been day dreaming when I couldn't immediately pick up the phone. In February, the Teardown Squad visited the Apple Store in Ginza almost every day, even on holidays, to see if the laptop was available.

"Have you got the MacBook Air?"
"No, not yet."
"When will it be available?"
"Sorry, we have no idea."

Gradually, we began to get bored with going through the same dialog every time we visited the store. It seemed to take a long time before it became available because Apple apparently tied up with shipments for pre-orders.

The Apple Store provides a service to call customers when an ordered product became available. As we asked the store to let us know quite a long ago, we knew we would eventually receive a call. "Let's just be patient until then. All we could do then was to wait." The store called me on the very day that we changed our minds and stopped visiting the Apple Store.

We had to go to the store because our first action was not prompt. Due to various factors, we ordered the MacBook Air several days after Macworld Conference & Expo 2008.

When we ordered it from Apple's online store, the date of shipment was mid February or later. Though we made another reservation at a volume retailer, we had no idea when we would be able to get one. We asked Apple's Japanese branch, but they said, "The shipment is controlled by headquarters. We don't know when it will be shipped."

We went for broke and tried to buy one at the Apple Store in Ginza, which we thought is the first store to receive the MacBook Air in Japan. We were optimistic at first, considering that we would be able to confirm the availability of the computer on the phone.

However, we lost patience with the phone lines that were too busy to get through to anyone. So, we switched to the simple method of just visiting the store almost every day.

It was 18:30. Ginza, after the rain, was quite crowded, though it was an evening just after a three-day weekend. After swiftly weaving my way through the crowd, I reached the entrance of the store.

There, a woman, who usually hands over store guide leaflets to visitors, was holding a flat black box. On that box, I saw a graphic of two flat plates put together. Passing by the woman, I asked her, "Is the MacBook Air in stock now?" She answered, "Yes. I'll get a Mac assistant for you."

It was 20:45. Only two hours have passed since I bought it, but the MacBook Air was already beyond recognition. As indicated in the name of the squad, our purpose is to examine the MacBook Air's hardware. Details of the examination will follow this article.

I explained how we got the MacBook Air at length so far because I was not satisfied with Apple's stance on product shipment. Considering that the supply chain management (SCM) is well developed today, I cannot imagine that Apple does not know when and in what volume its products will be shipped.

Maybe, Apple did not want to reveal the release date of the laptop for some reasons. But I wish the company would understand how customers feel when they are waiting. This was a case that even I – often seen as an Apple supporter in the office – have concerns about.