Apple was to produce next-gen black MacBook Air, gave up due to "body oils" sticking

It was rumored for a few weeks now that Apple would release a Black MacBook Air to the masses, a move that hasn't been seen since the days of the plastic Mac notebooks that were on market a few years ago.

The next generation MacBook Air is rumored to be released in the next few weeks, and MacRumors yesterday reported that Apple was working on a black edition on the notebook. According to their report, Apple was making a new case that would only be for the most elite Air model, and was to be "black anodized aluminum." It was widely confirmed, and was a logical move for Apple. 

However, today MacRumors received confirmation that Apple was indeed planning the black model of the Air, but actually ended up discontinuing it after a large amount of test models that were on Apple campus experienced issues with soaking up body oils around the track pad area, something that no-one really wants to see. The information came through from an employee via email:

The rumors that the next iteration of the MBA's will have an optional black finish is grounded in truth. 

We tried to powder coat the Air's (and Pro's for that matter) in black as a test run. There are more than a few floating around campus. 

The coating looks good and holds up well, but it also soaks up body oils, making the palm rest look pretty gross. Ultimately that is the reason that the top brass (Jobs) killed the idea... it was just too easy to make the computer look like crap. 

At some point we may offer a black coating, but it won't be powder coat, and it won't be anytime soon.

Here's hoping Apple finds a way to fix the issue and brings a black MacBook to market soon. For now, we can continue wondering when the next generation Air will actually be released.

Image Credit: ​Black MacBook Air by Colorware

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Perhaps Apple should focus on making pills that prevent the "body oil" disease so their Macs would be safe from the Humans !

I think they would have to abandon the aluminum in order to get a nice color black. Some of you guys have some good ideas, but after glopping stuff on to protect the black or adding glass or whatever, what is the point of having the case aluminum in the first place?

Has anyone seen a highly used white iBook g4? The white palm rests completely discolor. If it was ok to have those for so long, why can't they just release a black version that does the same thing?

StevoFC said,
Has anyone seen a highly used white iBook g4? The white palm rests completely discolor. If it was ok to have those for so long, why can't they just release a black version that does the same thing?

How long did it take to discolour? They are rather old models.
I'm guessing they are having problems within a few months with this black design.

I hate how trackpad buttons can discolour, happened on my Samsung netbook after about a year, want to punch the *******.

StevoFC said,
Has anyone seen a highly used white iBook g4? The white palm rests completely discolor. If it was ok to have those for so long, why can't they just release a black version that does the same thing?

Remind me, how many years ago is that? If their current products don't discolour they aren't going to take a step back. That isn't what a hardware company does.

I love how people are basically saying 'if people want black, let them cope with the problems'.

This is why apple have done so well, they care what their products are like, they care how they're built and they care that the consumer likes them - weather you like it or not, it's how they've done so well.
I could go into a massive rant, but I really can't be bothered.

How nice of Apple to decide for their customers what they should have.

If people want black, let them decide if the 'body oil' issue bothers them!

I hate when companies do something like this, how very communist of them...

margrave said,
How nice of Apple to decide for their customers what they should have.

If people want black, let them decide if the 'body oil' issue bothers them!

I hate when companies do something like this, how very communist of them...


They would have to make this 'body oil' feature really clear, or they will have a large number of unhappy customers, bad press articles, and Apple haters spunk everywhere.

CalumCookable said,
I'm just throwing this out there but, maybe Apple could just... make a black one?
Nope, they're too busy caring about how its going to look AFTER a consumer purchases it.. I mean come'on... Lets show jobs a 15 year olds iPod with all those helokitty stickers on it and I'm sure he would flip **** and find some "innovative" way of making stickers not "stick" to any Apples products.. I believe they need not care how a consumer cares for his product after he purchases it. I'm pretty sure wear and tears going to happen regardless and if I had a "Black" laptop like that I would actually take good care of it and clean it once a week anyways.

Morphine-X said,
Nope, they're too busy caring about how its going to look AFTER a consumer purchases it.. I mean come'on... Lets show jobs a 15 year olds iPod with all those helokitty stickers on it and I'm sure he would flip **** and find some "innovative" way of making stickers not "stick" to any Apples products.. I believe they need not care how a consumer cares for his product after he purchases it. I'm pretty sure wear and tears going to happen regardless and if I had a "Black" laptop like that I would actually take good care of it and clean it once a week anyways.

You don't care if a company sells you a **** product which doesn't last?
It isn't really wear and tear if it discolours after a couple weeks/months on a large number of devices, that's a design fault.
...and you'd take good care and clean your laptop once a week? I bet you won't be after two weeks.

What, you mean they couldn't create an Apple detergent for you to wash in
I have the Samsung 900X3A. Yes, oils from the skin will show up, but it really isn't THAT noticeable, and it's fairly relaxing and enjoyable to clean it.
OH WAIT, NO of COUSE, MBA users are all in coffee shops, that explains it, all those greasey fingers from there was the problem!

But aren't all other notebook makers able to deliver black products?
Yet, if Apple does it (which it seems they can't), it's innovative...

LLTC said,
But aren't all other notebook makers able to deliver black products?
Yet, if Apple does it (which it seems they can't), it's innovative...

Yea, they are. Haven't seen a single one deliver a nice matte black aluminium computer though which is probably what Apple would want to achieve...

Xerax said,
They say this now. Give it 6 months, and they will have a new "innovation" where they can make it black.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anodise

There is very little apple could contribute in the way of materials science, it is all a matter of finding a product that works, while also being economical. I'm quite surprised they had that to say about powder coats, must have been a satin/matte finish. Gloss would have been ok, but who wants to buy a glossy laptop. Powder coating is quite an expensive process so they must have only tried a very cheap one.

smithy_dll said,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anodise

There is very little apple could contribute in the way of materials science, it is all a matter of finding a product that works, while also being economical. I'm quite surprised they had that to say about powder coats, must have been a satin/matte finish. Gloss would have been ok, but who wants to buy a glossy laptop. Powder coating is quite an expensive process so they must have only tried a very cheap one.

If you're dealing with aluminum, anodizing is simply a superior form of finish to powder coating. Powder coating is essentially like a paint and can chip off, whereas with anodizing, the dye is embedded within the porous aluminum oxide layer that's formed by the anodizing process. The color of an anodized finish cannot "chip off". The aluminum oxide layer created by the anodizing process is also considered to be the 2nd hardest known material (after diamond), so it's highly resistant to scratches. Finally (and probably most importantly to Apple fanboys), the appearance will also be more metallic than powder coating.

smithy_dll said,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anodise

There is very little apple could contribute in the way of materials science, it is all a matter of finding a product that works, while also being economical. I'm quite surprised they had that to say about powder coats, must have been a satin/matte finish. Gloss would have been ok, but who wants to buy a glossy laptop. Powder coating is quite an expensive process so they must have only tried a very cheap one.

You must keep in mind that this is Apple we are dealing with here! Who knows, maybe they will come up with their own NEW color! Now that'd be innovative!!!!

How about coating the black with some type of gloss, which seals it from soaking up body oils? Or even, how about just using a black plastic, as they're not all sprayed black, a lot of them have black mixed in when they're being made. So many options available...

Couldn't they use glass on any parts they don't want oils soaked up? So it would be similar to an iPhone

DomZ said,
Couldn't they use glass on any parts they don't want oils soaked up? So it would be similar to an iPhone

Good idea, but glass for an entire palm rest? Even a thin layer would add weight, and the iPhone and iPad only work because there's a screen behind it. What I mean is that, with a solid black aluminum behind the glass, EVERY finger (palm) print would show up and it'd be impossible to keep it clean.

BigCheese said,
You're forgetting that the iphone has glass on the back of it as well.
Its not glass, its a ceramic materials. Similar to what xmas tree ornamemnts are made of.

I think Apple was scared that since Samsung already released a black laptop similar to the Air, they were afraid Samsung owuld have another point to countersue on Apple's present suit against them.

techbeck said,
Maybe a kid will come up with the color, sell it, and then get sued later.

Apple was legally required to 'sue him' to protect their trademark/copyright etc. They didn't follow through with it.

techbeck said,
Maybe a kid will come up with the color, sell it, and then get sued later.

However if this happens won't body oils stick as that boy may have contacts that gets him defect parts of a shattered production line?

omnicoder said,

Apple was legally required to 'sue him' to protect their trademark/copyright etc. They didn't follow through with it.

Yea, I know. It was a joke.