Rare Apple customer survey sparks hopes for 3G in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 05:06
Category: MacBook Air, News

This could be interesting.

Apple, which typically relies on its own in-house research as opposed to customer feedback, began reaching out to select MacBook Air owners this week in a new survey that could help define future versions of the diminutive notebook, posing questions on 3G, data syncing, I/O usage, and the desire for models with more capable computing power.

Per AppleInsider, the wide-ranging survey touches on a number of issues, including the use of USB ports and external disc drives, Web-based file storage and syncing, and use of certain function keys on the keyboard. It also includes a number of queries related to wireless 3G data connectivity, suggesting Apple could be exploring integrated cellular radios in future notebooks.

Official Apple customer surveys on products are not unheard of, though they are rare. The last survey AppleInsider can recall was conducted back in February 2009 to help shape the future of the Apple TV, and that was related to the company’s self-proclaimed “hobby” that was a work-in-progress.

In addition to future MacBook Air models, the new survey could offer a glimpse into Apple’s plans for the MacBook Pro line of notebooks. When the new MacBook Air was released last October, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the thin-and-light computer is “the first of a new generation of notebooks.”

Interestingly, the survey asks users whether they have connected their MacBook Air to a 3G network, how often they do so, where they connect to 3G, what type of device they use to connect to a 3G network (MiFi, USB device, or tethering with a cell phone).

Though the redesigned MacBook Air launched in late 2010, rumors of its successor have already begun to surface. Last week, it was said that Apple allegedly plans to upgrade its line of thin-and-light notebooks to Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors this June. No claims were made about 3G connectivity.

Rumors of a 3G-capable Mac have persisted for years, but the company does not yet sell a notebook with an integrated cellular data radio. Apple even sought to hire a 3G expert for its Mac team in 2009, fueling those rumors that the functionality would be added to a future MacBook.

So, it’s hard to say how much attention to pay to this, but it is sort of interesting and could lead to something cool. If you’ve seen this survey on your end, please let us know in the comments.

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3 Responses to “Rare Apple customer survey sparks hopes for 3G in next-gen MacBook Air”

  1. It seems clear that the Mac OS and iOS are headed for a unified, touch-based interface over the next few years. And tablets will, over time, replace a larger and larger share of desktop and notebook computers.

    So while Apple *could* be looking for input on the MB Air, the questions in the survey could just as well apply to tablets. It could be that Apple is looking for input on how the almost-tablet users use their not-quite-a-tablet MB Airs, with the ultimate goal of getting input on what their iPad configurations will be. Just a thought.

  2. Late in 2009, I received an Apple survey on that year’s model of the Mac Pro. It appeared to be aimed primarily at determining what ports, graphic options, &c. people wanted most. The funny thing is, given all the discussion about a “mid-sized,” configurable Mac between the iMac and the Pro, that such a survey would never reach people who didn’t buy a Mac because the Pro was too much and the iMac, too little. Does anyone know if Apple is carrying out surveys or focus groups of people who _haven’t_ yet bought from them?

  3. Why not have your devices always connected one way or another (WiFi or 3G cellular). If Apple can partner with a provider (AT&T or Verizon) to offer shared minutes with your cellular phone/mobile computer (iPad or MacBook Pro) this would be awesome! Instead of paying tethering BS! I’d buy this is a second.