PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Hitting those post-holiday sales is a good way of stocking up, but it won't get you that discontinued device you were looking for.It was the end of the road for a lot of popular brands, gadgets, vehicles and totems of American culture in 2012. While some consumers mourned strictly aesthetic changes to their shopping routines, whole chunks of their shopping selection left the marketplace this year. Even if holiday and post-holiday sales were stronger at year's end, it wouldn't have saved many of these freshly departed pillars of commerce.
It was an Apple (AAPL - Get Report) fixture since 2006, it was the collegiate student body's Mac on the cheap for more than half a decade and its glowing logo behind the monitor lit the dark corners of many a coffee shop. Though it left retail shelves last year, Apple just stopped selling it to schools in February. In the Apple world, the old reliable MacBook may as well have been an Underwood typewriter. The hardy, pale MacBook still had a cooling fan and a slot for playing, ripping and burning discs. Only three years ago, it still had a spot for an ethernet jack. These are all Smithsonian-worthy features for a company that seems to think that viewing items through anything other than a high-resolution Retina screen is tantamount to staring at petroglyphs. Want Apple's cheap option with a keyboard? The MacBook Air with its flash memory, faster USB ports and Thunderbolt display options fill the $999 niche. If you're looking cheaper, Apple's really trying to interest you in an iPad. Each product promises to be the workhorse the MacBook was before, but without the heat, weight and lag problems. Still, it's going to be tough for Macs in general to generate as much excitement as they did during old MacBook era. Overall Mac sales grew 7% in fiscal 2012, scant compared with 59% growth for the iPad and a 71% bump for the iPhone. Though much of Mac's sluggishness comes from a 6% drop in desktop sales, the MacBook's 12% sales growth is the slowest among items that posted gains last year. Only desktops and iPods -- which saw sales plummet 25% in 2012 -- performed worse. At a time PC sales are sliding and tech market research firms such as Gartner (IT) are predicting a downturn in the computer market overall, the slow fade of the Mac and MacBook aren't surprising. The white MacBook's departure is just a reminder of how far the laptop's star has fallen.