The next MacBook lineup

Tech Life

According to a MacRumors article I read yesterday, Apple is supposedly working on a 15″ ultra-thin notebook which will be released soon. I usually don’t pay much attention to rumours, but this makes a lot of sense. And seeing how the gap between the 13″ MacBook Air and the 13″ MacBook Pro is narrowing, one has to wonder about the shape of things to come in the next reorganisation of Apple’s notebook line.

Thomas Brand and Shawn Blanc both believe that the 13″ MacBook Pro’s life-cycle is coming to an end. Thomas Brand writes:

Customers who want portability are going to choose the MacBook Air. Customers who want performance are going to choose the 15 inch MacBook Pro. The 13 inch MacBook Pro is an awkward compromise kept around for cost conscious compatibility. It includes all of the legacy ports and optical drive the Air lacks, while retaining a sub $1,500 price tag for customers on a budget.

Shawn Blanc ventures a guess about a possible future MacBook lineup:

Want to know my wild guess on how it will all pan out? I see it happening something like this:

  • Apple introduces a 15-inch MacBook Air.
  • The Air lineup (11, 13, 15) becomes the premier family of laptops.
  • The 13-inch MacBook Pro gets discontinued.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the 15-inch MacBook Pro (as we know it today) gets discontinued as well. I could see the MacBook Pro line as only being available in the 17-inch model, the way the MacBook model was only available in 13-inch.
  • I do believe as well that Apple is going to introduce progressive changes in its family of portable machines. My guess is similar to Blanc’s, with some slight differences:

    1. Apple will introduce a thin 15″ machine, but it will remain under the label ‘MacBook Pro’;
    2. The current 13″ MacBook Pro will be discontinued;
    3. Air’ and ‘Pro’ will be used to differentiate between consumer and prosumer models, so we’ll have the 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air on one side, the thin 15″ MacBook Pro and the regular 17″ MacBook Pro on the other;

    The reasons why I think the 15″ model will retain the ‘Pro’ label are mainly two:

    1. Albeit thin, due to its screen size it won’t be such a lightweight machine as to be called ‘MacBook Air’;
    2. This new thin 15″ machine will probably have enough room for some additional ports, like a FireWire 800 or a Gigabit Ethernet, enough (at least for Apple) to still consider it a pro machine.

    It can also happen as Blanc foresees, in that case Apple may even drop the ‘Air’ from the thin line of portables, calling them just MacBooks and keeping the 17″ model as it is today (with all its ports and optical drive) as the only MacBook Pro.

    In any case, I can’t wait.

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