MacBook Air & MacBook Pro Will Make Way For All-New MacBook That Has It All [Report]

MacBook-Pro-family

Could Apple replace the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with one MacBook that has it all?

We’ve heard plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Apple’s 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros in recent months, which are soon expected to adopt a new form factor and Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. However, according to one analyst, there may no longer be a MacBook Pro… or a MacBook Air.

Instead, Apple will release an all-new MacBook that combines the qualities of both, while the 17-inch MacBook Pro will be discontinued completely.

Ming-Chi Kuo, a research analyst with KGI Securities, has published a new report in which he predicts Apple’s largest notebook will soon meet its death. Kuo feels the Cupertino company will introduce a “fully new” MacBook this year that will combine “the advantages of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro.”

The 17-inch model, which isn’t as popular as its smaller siblings, could be discontinued:

Apple’s Mac business in 2Q12 will be boosted by several factors. Three of which are: (1) Mountain Lion, which integrates iOS features with Mac OS, Apple TV’s interaction function, will be launched in June; (2) upgrading to Ivy Bridge; and (3) back-to-school demand. We forecast Apple will sell 5.32mn units of the Mac series (up 28.5% QoQ and 35.2% YoY) in 2Q12, making it the main growth driver.

We also predict Apple will roll out a fully new MacBook model in early 3Q12, boasting strong performance and easy carryability by combining the advantages of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

While adding new products, Apple is likely to stop making the 17” MacBook Pro this year due to falling shipments, in order to maintain a lean product line strategy.

So, according to Kuo, there may no longer be a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro, but rather one MacBook that combines the qualities of both. Recent rumors have claimed that the MacBook Pro would adopt a thinner, lighter form factor much like the MacBook Air, but this is the first time we’ve heard that it could replace it.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro, according to Kuo’s estimates, is by far Apple’s best-selling Mac, accounting for nearly half of its 3.1 million notebook sales during the first calendar quarter of 2012. In contrast, the 15-inch model could account for 500,000 units, while the 17-inch model could account for just 50,000 units.

As for the MacBook Air, Kuo estimates Apple will sell around 1.1 million units altogether, with the 11- and 13-inch models accounting for roughly 550,000 units each. That sounds like a pretty great sum, but according to Kuo, the Air is only meeting Apple’s expectations rather than exceeding them. It is believed the machines solid-state drives are still too small to satisfy the majority of customers.

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  • Steven Kool

    One MacBook to rule them all… first thing I thought about when I read the title. It sounds like a logical way forward and they have the capabilities. I’m gonna go and say I think this could genuinely happen. SOON!

  • aepxc

    The iPad/MacBook pair to replace the original iBook/PowerBook pair? Seems like a good way to go.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    On the one hand, this makes so much sense.

    On the other hand, there’s a gaping break in logic between Mr. Kuo’s (correct, I believe) belief that limited SSD capacity is one of the main reasons the Air line hasn’t surpassed the 13″ macBook Pro sales and his forecast that Apple will eliminate magnetic drives from the lineup that hasn’t been addressed.
    It’s possible that when he says combine the best qualities of both, he means a dual drive setup combining the speed and durability off SSD’s and the storage of magnetic drives. But he doesn’t say so.
    Personally, I think this will be the end of Apple separating any of it’s machines into professional and consumer models, but the end of the Pro form factor won’t come until SSD price/storage numbers are closer to being in line.
    I don’t see them dropping the 17″ model because Apple understands how much of it’s cache and forward momentum come from the creative community and even thought the numbers are limited, the people that purchase them do so because they need a laptop that size. Slimming the size and weight down will make it easier.

  • Laddie Anderson

    pls bring back a black computer!

  • Wirehedd

    some of us are dependent on the good ol’ “lunch tray” Mac Book Pro 17″ models. I can’t see Apple discontinuing this line. At least I hope not. :)

  • riotgeek

    I know the report says it’s the 17″ on the chopping block, but I sure hope they don’t kill off the 15″ any time soon. 13″ is too small for my liking. If I wanted a mini notebook…actually, that would never happen. I was seriously considering moving up from a 15″ MBP to the 17″…guess that may not happen now. Oh well.

  • Daniel Wallace MacMullin

    There is NO way they will scrap the 17′. Impossible. I know that is a strong word, but Apple DOES not follow the same strategies of most Silicon Valley Companies. $ is not the driving force, remember…They may have a hybrid, but most likely will still keep the business end machines, even though they do not sell a great deal of them. Since when in the entire history of the company, have they cared about bottom dollar? Never.

  • Daniel Wallace MacMullin

    This is assuming they are keeping with Steve’s philosophy, of course. I hope they are…they tell us they are…

  • Jairo Gomez

    I’ve been saying this forever. People are always having trouble deciding between the macbook pro and the macbook air. If there was only one macbook the only decision to be made is which size.

  • Cowicide

    If Apple ditches 17″ laptops, many professional will leave for non-Apple hardware and Linux. It’ll be a boon to Linux and with that migration, it may finally help prod Adobe to produce Create Suite for Linux which would be horrible for Apple.

    “Streamlining” for the sake of “streamlining” is a dumb prediction. Once the economy bounces back and more professionals are ready for a portable production machine, Apple would look like short-sighted idiots.

    It’s the economy, stupid.

  • aepxc

    some of us are dependent on the good ol’ “lunch tray” Mac Book Pro 17″ models. I can’t see Apple discontinuing this line. At least I hope not. :)

    Why not get a top-specced 27″ iMac ($1999) and an iPad ($499) for a dollar less than the 17″ MBP ($2499)? Or the better 21.5″ ($1499) iMac and the 11″ MBA ($999)? How frequently do you need both the 17″ screen and the portability? Is it a case of ‘serious work’ that all needs to be done in different locations? It’s a serious question – I’m not an AV creative, so I may well be missing something.

  • nthnm

    I don’t think this is a very good decision on Apple’s part.

  • Unis Zuurmond

    This fits perfectly with Apple’s strategy, firstly to simplify their product offering, and secondly to meet its prosumer approach. Plus, it would have been very difficult to go retina on the 17″ at an affordable price and battery life in a thin form factor. So it’ll be 11″, 13″ and 15″ MacBooks. Not Air and not Pro. Next on the chpping block will be the Mac Pro, with “the best of both” available in the iMac. Also, don’t forget that Apple is slowly but effectively moving into the non-computer or post-computer space.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    Wait. Did he actually say that they would merge the two lines? The source article from Mac Rumors doesn’t say that and the quote from Kuo is that that they’ll “roll out a fully new MacBook model…combining the advantages of the Air and Pro.” but doesn’t say anything about replacing the Pro line altogether.

    The only model he says will be discontinued is the 17″ Pro, which makes it sound like they will continue production of the 13″ and 15″ Pro models. It also doesn’t say that there won’t be a 17″ model, period, just not in the existing form factor.

    That makes sense to me. They need the 13″ and 15″ models as a bridge until SSD prices drop but they can get away with premium prices for a 17″ Air model they bill as the ultimate mobile studio and probably sell more models.

  • Lane Jasper

    I agree with pulling the 17″ line. It’s too big for a tray table unless you fly first class and with the ease of connecting an LCD/Projector etc. the 17″ really isn’t needed. It’s too damn big imo. Not to mention the cost that would incur using this new form factor and specs.

  • Kris Magnusson

    I agree with pulling the 17″ line. It’s too big for a tray table unless you fly first class and with the ease of connecting an LCD/Projector etc. the 17″ really isn’t needed. It’s too damn big imo. Not to mention the cost that would incur using this new form factor and specs.

    I’m a software development technical writer and an author of enterprise Java programming books, and on airplanes I use my iPad or my Android to keep myself busy—and so should you, Lane.

    But I need a 17″ machine for getting my work done—the past 3-4 laptops I’ve purchased with my own money have been 17″ MacBook Pros with one CPU or another—I just haul them around from Sonoma to Sacramento to San Francisco to Silicon Valley and I have everything I need to be productive wherever I find myself doing work.

    Whether I get my next 17″ laptop from Apple or Sony or Asus is up to Apple. Ubuntu Linux running on commodity 17″ laptop PC hardware works just fine for me WRT composing and editing docs in text format, running Apache software (Avro, Tomcat, HTTP Server, Maven, Ant), and providing POSIX compatibility so I can write shell scripts to automate software and doc builds. And the Ubuntu UI is actually pretty good, though it doesn’t have the fun (read: CPU cycle-sucking) eye candy of OS X.

    Apple dumps the 17″ MBP? They dump me as a customer. And I’ve been using Steve Jobs’s UNIX-based products since the original mono NeXTstation. If Apple pulled the rug out from under me by ceasing production of hardware that meets my productivity needs, Apple would no longer deserve my loyalty (at least for productivity hardware).

  • Rob Klaproth

    First of all I can tell who the noobie apple users are and the die hards like me by the comments. Those of you who don’t know anything but the iPad and the MacBook air might want to stop for a second and realize that the buyers of the pro notebooks are actually doing a lot of hard core work on them…. Video editing, how the hell would you edit a 1080p hd movies on the iPad or MacBook air?! High end audio… Being able to encode an audio file in 5 seconds versus 30 on the MacBook air. Screen real estate… Yes those of us boring business types do need to have a large screen to work on two documents at once among other things. I’m sorry but just because YOU feel like you don’t need a large MacBook pro computer doesn’t mean that Apple should discontinue it. That is unless apple only cares about consumers and they want to ditch the business community.

  • oliverterrisse

    do you mean a Mac Book Touch :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R92jQtQuhuA

  • Unis Zuurmond

    First of all I can tell who the noobie apple users are and the die hards like me by the comments.

    22 years die hard here who believes the 17″ has had its 15 seconds of fame, time to move on. Keep portables portable, for hardcore work use desktops. Apple is moving to be a consumer company with a simplified product line, focusing on a lot more than computers. Tough, yes. Sad, maybe. But that’s the future.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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