MacBook ‘no-Pro’. Is Apple streamlining its laptop range?

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In July, Apple noted that an upcoming ‘product transition’ would affect future profit margins, prompting speculation. For once, such speculation has started to fade, but now rumors regarding the new MacBook are beginning to surface: an aluminium case, LED backlit display, multi-touch. Does that sound like anything to you?

Is Apple going to ditch the ‘Pro’ from MacBook Pro and streamline its laptop range, leaving just a ‘standard’ MacBook (with different screen sizes and minor tinkering possibilities under the hood), and the Air for people who happily set fire to 50-dollar bills? (Clearly, they would once have lit their cigars with said bills, but you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere in the free world these days.)

Obviously, this is idle speculation, but such streamlining would make sense. Run SuperDrives across the new MacBook range, and position the low-end model at an aggressive price-point, but with roughly the grunt of today’s mid-range MacBook (albeit with some extra toys), and then beef up the mid- and top-ends with larger screens and a graphics card, but slice their price-tags, too.

According to resellers we’ve spoken to, laptops are the Apple hardware that continues to outperform the market and expectations, and so if Apple really does want to make a play for market-share, this could be the way to do it.

Update: As Gruber just pointed out, Apple was likely referring to the new iPods introduced last week and the guidance was for the quarter about to end. But what the hell—I still have an inkling that the laptop line-up is going to change rather dramatically over the coming months. So there.

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  • Peruchito

    i was thinking about this since your article about the blurring line that used to separate apple’s pro laptops and the regular ones. i was thinking, that apple should probably just meld the 2 together, but i couldn’t believe they would because the pro vs normal was such a great product strategy, apple would probably not abandon it. unless… unless… unless they are planning a new, slightly cheaper and lower level ‘device’ to replace the macbooks.

    for the most part, macbooks are used for simple things. email, word processing, surf, etc. some would argue that people use them for gaming as well, but if you divide the habits up into %. gaming would probably be a small % of regular use of a macbook.

    wouldn’t it then be wise for apple to come out with a subnotebook that specializes in the things that people use macbooks for?

    email. word processing. IM. surf. etc.

    a tablet, running a iphone osx’ish software would suit most people perfect. 12″, 15″ tablet that you can check emails on, view movies, play songs, remote your apple tv etc. all the wonderful things my iphone can do and some things that require a bit more power. word processing, spreadsheets, keynotes. apps, games that i can buy via the app store.

    yes… if i was steve, i would merge the macbook and macbook pro line. price is near or slightly above the current macbook prices and then hit the world with my mac tablet for lower end users. price it slightly below current mac books.

    if apple was to release a tablet. the first sign of it would be the streamlining its laptop range.

    but what do i know.

  • Craig Grannell

    The thing that primarily got me thinking about this is that Apple used to have a much simpler product line: home/pro for laptops/desktops. For me, it’s the Air that’s skewed this, and with laptop sales growing rapidly, perhaps it’s time to bring everything under one banner.

    However, like you said, we could always end up with a MacBook mini, although one might argue that the iPod touch and iPhone are roughly in that area, minus the ability to do word processing.

  • Teddy T. Bear

    you wrote:
    >the Air for people who happily set fire to $50 dollar bills? (Clearly, they would once have lit their cigars with said bills, but you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere in the free world these days).

    I think you meant: you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere in the non-free world these days ;-)

  • imajoebob

    While Apple has a reputation for success with counterintuitive decisions, this one seems far beyond that. Unless sales of the Pro has dropped off the chart, why would you reduce your best-selling choices? The MBP is gravy for Apple. It probably costs an extra 100 bucks to manufacture, but they make another 600 on top of that.

    If anything, I’d like to see them drop the black MacBook and reskin it in Aluminum as another Pro (with a graphics card). That brings them back to the original iBook/PowerBook scheme. The iBooks were for most people who wanted portability. The 15″ PowerBook was for serious-minded data crunchers who needed portability. The 17″ was for people who needed graphics (or an ego massage). The 12″ PB was a big hit with people who wanted a small form factor, people who wanted the power of the Pro without breaking the bank, and with egocentric suits who “needed” a bad-ass powerful desktop AND a flashy notebook to write all those emails.

    They can always collapse the whole line under a single name, but that would just make differentiating models/features more difficult.

  • Radek

    I think Gruber is right to point out that product transition has to be something that was done earlier, but it doesn’t mean that it is not for notebooks. Expenses connected with iPods have been at least 1 or 2 months earlier (it takes some time to prepare and make couple millions iPods). So expenses for notebooks are already in books now is Apple just waiting to cash up.

  • iv_drip

    The iPhone is a computer in a phone form factor. The Mac is a telecommunications device performing as an music media recorder player. The iTouch is an iPhone without the telephony. Where’s this leading us?

    Here’s my proposition for what’s next …

    —–
    Lookout for the iTouch Air tablet.

    13inch :: touchscreen with gesture:: Airport-n :: Bluetooth2s :: 3G-HSPDA :: 64Gb_SSD :: USB :: FW400 :: Ethernet :: proximitysensors etc :: no_hw_keyboard

    OSX User Interface?
    iPhone or Mac?

    —–

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