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“Just slap a Retina display in the MacBook Air and ship it!” is what a lot of people have been clamoring for Apple to do for a long, long time.
This isn’t that.
On one extreme, you have the 12-inch MacBook for those who want ultimate portability and are willing to pay a premium for it. On the other extreme, the MacBook Pro for those who want ultimate power and are likely willing to pay for it. In the middle, the broad middle, you have the new Air for those who want a balance of portability and power and don’t want to pay as much of a premium.
That it’s confusing is the result of legacy branding and SKUs. In a perfect world, the 12-inch would be the Air and this would be the new MacBook, and everyone would understand naked is the baseline and modifiers are the two extremes.
But given how popular the Air brand is, and how it’s come to be associated with entry-level, Apple is stuck with things the way they are. At least for now.