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Goodbye, Fat Friend: The End Of The 17-inch MacBook Pro?

April 23, 2012

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

As the name would imply, the MacBook Pro line has long been the choice of professionals, be it in the audio and visual or programming fields. Sure, the Mac Pros offer much more customization and computing power, but they also come at a steeper entry-level price. For the pro who needs to get down-and-dirty in the field, the MacBook Pro line can´t be beat.

Now, as rumors fly about the “death” of the pro market, a research analyst has issued a report saying Apple will drop the top-dog 17-inch MacBook Pro for their lineup, offering instead a “hybrid” which combines the power of the Pro line with the portability of the Air.

Ming-Chi Kuo, who now works for KGI Securities, also cited poor sales of the 17-inch MBP as a reason for Apple to drop the laptop from its lineup. Kuo says the company will try to streamline their product offerings as they move forward in 2012. According to his report, Kuo says, “We also predict Apple will roll out a fully new MacBook model in early 3Q12, boasting strong performance and easy carry-ability 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.”

Kuo´s estimates show Apple´s most popular notebook computer is the newcomer to the MacBook Pro lineup, the 13 inch MBP. According to his report, Apple has already sold more than 3 million laptops this year, with 1.5 million of those sales going to the 13 inch MBP. By comparison, only 50,000 17-inch MBP were sold in the same time frame.

Kuo also estimates strong sales for the MacBook Air line, saying nearly 1.1 million Airs have been sold so far this year. His report suggests more of these Airs could be sold once solid-state drives become available in larger sizes. The Air´s lack of an optical drive and relatively small storage options are often criticized, and could potentially be driving would-be buyers towards the entry-level 13 inch MBP.

Once the MacBook Air was released, analysts and pundits alike have been pining for the day when Apple releases their MacBook Pro line with a similar form factor. After all, Apple has always been known to make every update to an existing product consistently thinner, smaller, and lighter. The MacBook Air embodies the ideal computer for Apple. It´s incredibly thin (an 11-inch is only 0.3-1.7 cm thick) and incredibly light (2.38 pounds for the 11, 2.96 for the 13) and its lack of spinning hard drive and optical drive make it quiet as a mouse. By comparison, the 17 inch MBP is the fat cousin in Apple´s lineup, measuring 15.4 inches wide and a hefty 6.6 pounds. Usually the option for those professionals who need top of the line performance in a portable, the 17 inch has always been the fastest and largest MBP, featuring more ports and more customization choices.

Announced by Steve Jobs in April of 2006, the 17-inch MacBook Pro came just months after its smaller brother, the 15-inch. Resembling PowerBook G4, the MacBook Pro line used Intel Core CPUs instead of the Power G4 chips. The MacBook Pro line also featured iSight cameras for video-conferencing and the very clever MagSafe magnetic power connector which prevents the computer from falling to its demise if the user (or more likely the user´s child or pet) trips over the power cord.

If this prediction is true, it will invariably prove as a last nail-in-the-coffin for Apple´s Pro line which has already been rumored to be on the way out, as the Mac Pro line begins to look long in the tooth.


Source: Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com