Apple shows off new MacBook Air and Lion operating system


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Apple Inc. unveiled updates to its Macintosh operating system Tuesday, as well as a new version of its lightest laptop, the MacBook Air.

The look of the hyper-thin computer, as well as the tablet-like feel of the new operating system, shows that the company’s computers are taking on more characteristics of its popular line of iPhone and iPad mobile devices.


Indeed, Chief Executive Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by saying that company engineers mused, ‘What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?’

The 13-inch MacBook Air -- the larger of two models -- weighs 2.9 pounds and is less than 3/4 ‘ thick at its thickest point. It will cost $1,299 with a 128-gigabyte flash memory drive. The smaller 11.6-inch version will go for $999. The new laptops are on sale now.

The company began the press event by touting the success of its Macintosh line of computers, noting that purchases of Macs had grown nearly 30% over last year -- close to triple the growth rate for PCs. Jobs said Apple now controlled about 20% of the consumer computing market.

Company executives also showed off updates to some of Apple’s existing applications, including its iPhoto and iMovie programs.

The newer version of the Mac operating system, called Lion, will include among its new features access to Apple’s App Store, where small programs for its iPhone and iPad devices are sold. Lion users will also be able to use the company’s FaceTime video calling program to make calls to the newer iPhone and iPod devices that work with the feature.

Lion will be available in the summer of 2011, Jobs said.

-- David Sarno

Corrected, 2:40p.m.: an earlier version of this post referred to the MacBook Air’s data storage medium as a hard drive, rather than the the correct term, flash memory.


Image of Steve Jobs with the two MacBook Air models captured from Apple’s webcast of the announcement.