Technology

Apple Is Looking To OLED, E-Ink Keyboards To Revive It’s MacBook Line

If you watch enough recent television and movies, or simply visit certain coffee shops, you would be forgiven if you think that Apple’s MacBooks (including Pro models) dominate the laptop industry. They don’t, Apple just pays for enough product placements and hipsters like Apple sufficiently to give this impression. In fact, Apple’s MacBook sales are down dramatically but that could change soon.

E-Ink Keyboard MacBook
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Laptop sector is down overall and people are dying to see the new MacBook

Since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple really hasn’t wowed anyone with much of anything. The company has only released a single new product since Tim Cook took over and that was the for the moderately desired Apple Watch and its upgrade this September. Beyond that, all we’ve really seen are annually upgrades on existing products like the iPhone and iPad and the considerably rarer overall of its line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

With more and more people using their phones and tablets to do the bulk of their web browsing and other online activities, it comes as little surprise that PC and Mac laptop sales would see a profound fall off and will continue to do so into the future. Sure there will always be a need for many to have a laptop or desktop (or both) based on the work they do. Surely, I couldn’t do my job from a tablet any more than a video editor doesn’t need a powerful desktop system like and iMac. Surely, there are other professions as well that require the full keyboard or more robust computing power or a laptop or desktop, but certainly you get my point.

Overall, according to reports from Gartner and IDC this week, PC sales from the third quarter were down 3.9% year-over-year (IDC) with Gartner claiming a 5.7% dip for the same two periods while saying it’s

Reports issued this week by IDC and Gartner both indicate that PC sales have now declined for eight straight quarters. Gartner calls it “the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry.”

And unfortunately for the folks at Apple, this decline is affecting them as well something that the company is not particularly accustomed to as it usually, going back to those Mac only/free Wi-Fi coffee shops, outperforms the market.

But, Apple’s joining the rest in slowed sales that have seen its market share drop to about 6.7% of overall market share is fairly easy to explain. People are simply waiting for the major upgrades to its line of laptops, which includes both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro that I and others have been promising in our writing for quite some time now.

While Apple has a loyal following of customers that are quick to snatch at and pick up new products when offered, that’s just not going to happen as long as they are under the impression that Apple has something big in store for them this year and possibly even later this month.

What to expect from the new MacBooks and what the hell is an e-ink keyboard?

Tech writers including myself have been pressing the rumor that Apple is prepared to ditch the function keys that top the keyboard on its line of laptops in order to replace it with a touchscreen OLED strip that could be customized to bring the user greater functionality and control while also looking pretty damn cool. Additionally, many are calling for the new MacBooks to ship with Touch ID for the first time.

While that’s been rumored for some time, it’s possible that Apple is thinking bigger with e-ink keyboards while likely not in soon to be introduced upgrades to its laptop line that while faster hasn’t moved the needle much in over a half a decade with innovation or the integration of new technologies.

New rumors suggest that in the future Apple is interested in integrating E-ink keyboards into its future offerings and may rely on Australian company Sonder Design, part of Foxconn’s International Holding’s Incubator program to make that a reality.

Sonder’s keyboard which will go on sale for $199 later this year and is available for pre-order now, will allow users to customize the alphabet and number keys which will immediately rewrite themselves to display their new assignments. Something, for example, would allow my French girlfriend to change the keyboard for use in her native language and actually see the changes.

Sonder has said that it is “currently closing B2B procurement contracts with three 3rd party laptop companies to integrate our technology into their products,” according to a recent article in 9to5Mac.

Apple, which is generally quite closed-mouth about nearly everything that it does has somewhat surprisingly confirmed they are talks with the Australian company.

Recently, a spokesperson for Apple said “Sonder has been in discussions with Apple’s procurement board regarding Sonder’s laptop module. Foxconn International Holdings and E Ink Holdings – both strategic partners of Sonder Design Pty. Ltd. are assisting with the above discussions.”

Surely, if Apple announces new MacBooks this year as expected they will not yet have this E-ink capability.