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Apple to disrupt notebook space with radically redesigned MacBook Pros

post #1 of 324
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While most of its rivals are struggling to match innovations Apple pioneered with its first MacBook Airs over three years ago, the Mac maker this year is hoping to further distance itself from the competition with a pair of radically redesigned professional offerings that will set the tone for the next wave of notebook computing.

In particular, people familiar with Apple's roadmap say the Cupertino-based company currently plans to exit 2012 having completed a top-to-bottom revamp of its notebooks lineup that will see new MacBook Pros adopt the same design traits that have made its MacBook Airs an increasingly popular choice among mobile consumers.

This will include new, ultra-thin unibody enclosures that jettison yesteryear technologies like optical disk drives and traditional hard drives in favor of models with lightweight chassis that employ flash-memory based solid-state drives, instant-on capabilities, extended battery life, and rely on digital distribution for software and media.

"They're all going to look like MacBook Airs," one person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs told AppleInsider. Meanwhile, existing MacBook Pro designs are expected to be phased out over the course of the year.

Much in the same way that Apple initiated its last MacBook Pro overhaul by first revamping the higher-volume 15-inch models, and only then following up a few months later with a redesigned 17-inch counterpart, the company is again said to be giving priority to its new 15-inch model. A 17-inch model is expected to follow shortly thereafter.

As such, AppleInsider believes that based on its information, leaks out the Far East regarding an ultra-thin 15-inch Apple notebook slated to hit the market this spring indeed pertain to Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro makeover, regardless of what marketing name the company ultimately chooses to stamp on its bezel. It's to rely heavily on Thunderbolt and be built around Intel's forthcoming Ivy Bridge microarchitecture and mobile components currently slated to start shipping in April.


An illustration of Apple's notebook lineup planned for the 2012 calendar year.


The transition comes at a time when Apple's notebook sales are surging in the face of a broader market contraction, prompting competitors to retool their own offerings in a similar manner in hopes of stemming the slow but increasingly material market shift towards the Mac maker's sleek and sexy designs.

Since introducing its first MacBook Air, Apple has seen its notebook sales increase nearly threefold, from 1.342 million units quarterly in January of 2008 to 3.719 million units during the company's most recently ended quarter. A huge chunk of that growth took place in the 12-months after Apple revamped the Air with lower pricing and the addition of an 11-inch model, with shipments rising nearly 1 million units from 2.643 million in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010 to the 3,616 million units in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011.


Apple's notebook sales have surged from roughly 1 million units per quarter 3 years ago to nearly 4 million units today.


Although existing MacBook Pros continue to outsell MacBook Airs, the gap between the two has been contracting, with Apple management continually crediting the MacBook Air with helping to drive the company's overall computer business. For instance, this past October Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer reported a then record 4.89 million Mac sales for the prior quarter, a 26% yearly increase that he said was "fueled by the very strong growth in MacBook Air as well as the continued strong performance of MacBook Pro."

The popularity of Apple's MacBook Airs finally drew the earnest attention of rival PC makers over last year, who under the guidance of Intel have been attempting to mimic the super-sleek notebooks with an assortment of models based off the chipmaker's "Ultrabook" reference design.

Specifically, Intel's definition of an initial first-phase Ultrabook calls for notebooks that are less than 21 mm thick, weight no more than 3.1 pounds, use flash-based SSDs, offer 5 to 8 hours of battery life, and cost around $1,000. However, that latter specification -- price point -- initially proved challenging for the PC makers, who petitioned Intel for a 50% price cut on Ultrabook microprocessors in hopes of keeping their margins material. Intel ultimately denied the request, granting a 20% cut instead.

In addition to struggling with pricing, Ultrabook makers have also had to contend with Apple's dominance in the overseas supply chain. Last August it was reported that Ultrabook makers were out-muscled by Apple in acquiring magnesium-aluminum chassis, which are ideal for creating a notebook less than 0.8-inch thick. This forced some vendors to turn to alternative materials such as plastic in order to compete with Apple's pricing.

Still, Ultrabook vendors such as Acer and Asus saw their initial offerings struggle to gain traction in the market when pitted against the MacBook Air, prompting the two to reduce initial orders by as much as 40%. The two companies originally planned to build as many as 300,000 Ultrabooks by the end of 2011, but slow sales forced them to reduce those orders to between 150,000 and 180,000 units. They're now looking toward a $100 marketing subsidy from Intel to help drive prices down as much as 10% during the first quarter of 2012.


HP's $900 Folio13 Ultrabook lacks the panache and allure of Apple's MacBook Airs.


At the same time, Apple has not only seen sales of MacBook Airs surge but managed to simultaneously driven its overall gross profit margins higher in the process, which are now well in excess of 40%. It has done so by extending the same fundamentals to MacBook Air production that led to its dominance in the mobile phone and tablet markets, where secret long-term licensing deals for components and manufacturing capacity have garnered it rock-bottom pricing that is squeezing out rivals who aren't seeing high enough volumes to command such arrangements.

With this year's MacBook Pro revamp, Apple is looking to extend the same fundamentals to its most premium priced notebooks in a move that threatens over time to further disrupt the notion that its products are more costly than those from rival PC makers. It also threatens to place those same PC makers in another round of follow the leader that could ultimately pave the way for a changing of the guard in the personal computer market over the next several years should they fail to catch up in a timely manner.

What's not immediately clear is how Apple plans to bridge the gap currently filled by the 13-inch MacBook Pro, though there has been some informed speculation that rumors of MacBook Airs with faster memory and irreplaceable SSDs originally rumored for last year could materialize this year, possibly opening the door for 13-inch Air-style MacBook Pro with slightly more flexibility and brawn.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 324
Bout Time
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post #3 of 324
Figures, I just bought a 15" MBP last summer. Can't wait to see what the new designs will look like. Now if they'd only just refresh the Mac Pro line, I'd be a happy camper.
post #4 of 324
As long the SSDs are easily replaceable as larger and less expensive ones become available I'm all in.
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post #5 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by DGNR8 View Post

Bout Time

Not soon enough for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

As long the SSDs are easily replaceable as larger and less expensive ones become available I'm all in.

Are they going to use SSDs or the flash cards they use in the MBAs? I'm hoping they use both, at least with space enough for a standard SSD thickness which would also allow for a single-platter HDD which would be slower (though not an issue for data) but also cheaper per GB. You'd still get to boot from the flash card in under 10 seconds.

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post #6 of 324
Yes and more yes
post #7 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

As long the SSDs are easily replaceable as larger and less expensive ones become available I'm all in.

Its all nice except for SSD prices indeed. Its still too expensive but maybe Apple cut a deal and we will see SSD with decent prices and decent storage.

I am planning to buy a laptop this year, so good timing.
post #8 of 324
I have been waiting a looooooong time. I really hope this happens soon.
post #9 of 324
But what about people who need 500 GB storage? or wired ethernet?
post #10 of 324
Hopefully there will better Thunderbolt peripheral options for these issues when Apple rolls these new MacBook Pros out.

In any case, it's pure speculation at this time, we don't know what features/functionality will be added/removed.
post #11 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Are they going to use SSDs or the flash cards they use in the MBAs? I'm hoping they use both, at least with space enough for a standard SSD thickness which would also allow for a single-platter HDD which would be slower (though not an issue for data) but also cheaper per GB. You'd still get to boot from the flash card in under 10 seconds.

You think they can fit a conventionnal HDD in that space?

Personnaly I would still go 100% SSD because I kind of like the idea of a laptop with no moving parts.
post #12 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

You think they can fit a conventionnal HDD in that space?

Personnaly I would still go 100% SSD because I kind of like the idea of a laptop with no moving parts.

"The new MacBook Family. The only moving part is the hinge."

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post #13 of 324
Apple should not make the pros too much like the airs. If I wanted and air, I would purchase an air.

Yes, drop the DVD, I almost never use it. But do not drop the faster processor or the rotating HDD. And have room for BOTH an SSD and a conventional HDD. I would love to have my OS on an SSD with a 1 TB rotating hdd for data. By dropping the DVD there will be more then enough room for both.
post #14 of 324
I didn't see the words "rumor" or "purported" in the headline and it's Kaspar.....the big man, head cheese, grand poobah of AI, himself, writing the article.....so I guess this is true!

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #15 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"The new MacBook Family. The only moving part is the hinge."

What about the keys and the trackpad? don't they count as moving parts?
post #16 of 324
I love my MBA 13

I'll NEVER go back to booting off of a platter HDD.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the MBP lineup add 2 Thunderbolt ports and
they could still have a HDD drive for mass storage as those Pro working on audio
or video are still going to need a portable workstation that has mass storage for
audio and video files. Photographers as well would need mass storage.

The timing is right for SSD.

Samsung has their 830 Series SSD and Intel just announced their 520 series SSD. The performance on these SSD are double what we have now with the MBA. Both are doing 450Mbps writes and faster reads. That's amazing.
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post #17 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

Its all nice except for SSD prices indeed. Its still too expensive but maybe Apple cut a deal and we will see SSD with decent prices and decent storage.

I am planning to buy a laptop this year, so good timing.

I suspect Apple will drive the cost down dramatically one way or another. I wouldn't be surprised to read about schemes to keep costs down by Apple over the coming weeks ranging from buy aheads to investment in manufacturing. Ironically I bet we see old fashioned HDs costs stop lowering if not rise as Apple drive demand to solid state. However this can't happen till we start seeing TB+ solid state at reasonable costs.

I only commented on the ability swap them out easily as the article referenced one rumor that they would not be which seems crazy. But I agree they are currently crazy high $ and that's why the last two Macs I got in 2011 are MBPs which I upgraded the RAM and HDs immediately to 8 gigs and 1TB respectively.

I know my next Mac will be solid state and I can't wait

Edit ... Maybe wireless external storage (more solid state of course) from Apple are coming with new high speed protocol.
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post #18 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

What about the keys and the trackpad? don't they count as moving parts?

Don't forget the fans ;-)
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post #19 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

What about the keys and the trackpad? don't they count as moving parts?

Multitouch bottom surface. No physical keyboard. You heard it here last.

Originally posted by Marvin

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post #20 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Don't forget the fans ;-)

Is the Cube the only one that had no fan?

I am looking for decent price on SSD drive for my current MacBook Pro 2011 17" - got a 750GB 5400 RPM in there now - got a 500GB hybrid to swap in but could not get the 750 to work in the external enclosure - so wanting a Crucial M4 512GB SSD - but a bit more than I would care to spend at the moment. It will go nicely with the 16GB of RAM I recently installed.
post #21 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post

But what about people who need 500 GB storage? or wired ethernet?

This article doesn't negate these happening. Being thinner could really mean getting rid of the 12.7mm ODD. You'd lose over 3mm from the bottom thickness as well as gain a great deal of internal space (25% on the 13" MBP).

That's if they still went with a 9.5mm (dual-platter) HDD, but their is an option for 7mm (single-platter) HDDs, which is also the standard thickness for SSDs.

With either of these types of 2.5" drives i think there is room for an Ethernet port and well as other ports at the back of the tapered machine. Remember, when you lose the ODD you gain 5.25" of port-side space.


Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

You think they can fit a conventionnal HDD in that space?

Personnaly I would still go 100% SSD because I kind of like the idea of a laptop with no moving parts.

Sure. They've been around for years, just haven't found much of a market. Back in 2009 Seagate had a 320GB single-platter drive. I think a single platter for a 2.5" HDD can not top 500GB but don't quote me on that.

I long ago removed my ODD and replaced it with a HDD. I love having my SSD as the boot drive and my HDD as my user folder. I can see Apple wanting to make it faster and more reliable but I'm not sure that SSD price per GB are close enough to HDD to make the use of a flash card feasible for the Pro line. Though Apple does have a tendency for jumping the gun earlier than many think they should in these cases. I'm simply hoping they allow for the flash card and 2.5" drive so I can speed and capacity at the same time.

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post #22 of 324
By the end the year, I suspect they will have the following lineup:

Tablet: iPad 2, iPad 3
Notebook: Macbook Air 11, 13, 15, 17
Desktop: iMac 21, 27 (also radically thinner than the current ones)

There will be no HDs anywhere. If you want an HD you can use the Thunderbolt port. Apple may even provide their own external HD, in the same way they provide an external optical drive now.
post #23 of 324
They should rebrand the Air and the Pro and bring out 4 MacBooks: 11, 13, 15 & 17" versions. Would be clean and very Apple-like.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #24 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post

But what about people who need 500 GB storage? or wired ethernet?

Thunderbolt. The question is will Apple get smart & come up with some of their own solutions to that just like how with the arrival of the Air they started selling their own USB ethernet adapter. It's been the 1 frustration over thunderbolt I have, if Apple wants adoption they need to make their own products to support it & prove the worth of developing devices for it to the OEMs.

Don't give me the Cinema display as an example, not very many people buying an Air care to drop a boatload on a Cinema display.
post #25 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post

or wired ethernet?

The USB dongle works perfectly well.
post #26 of 324
If this is true, then it looks like my current MBP better survive for a while or it will be my last. There is nothing PRO about the current airs. I absolutely need an optical drive, and SSD are so far, well too small for me. THE GPU is underwhelming as well. I'm not carrying around external pieces to get one with my daily life for the sake of being thin.
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post #27 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

They should rebrand the Air and the Pro and bring out 4 MacBooks with 11, 13, 15 & 17" version. Would be clean and very Apple-like.

That's what I read the article was saying is going to happen.
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post #28 of 324
Looks like Seagate and Hitachi could be delivering 1TB on a 2.5" Platter this year if they want to.

I can definitely see it happening because the race is one to deliver thin and light notebooks and in ALL cases if there's a HDD inside it needs to be Callista Flockhart sized.

There's probably going to be a lot of demand for SP HDD (Single Platter) not just from Apple but from many other vendors as well.

I suspect that the Blade Format SSD will rise in popularity as well since it gets rid of the needless casing that SSD come in to make them compatible with HDD bays.
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post #29 of 324
Apple's laptops are too anorexic as it is.. Jesus.. Feed these things some BBQ Pork for God's sake!!!

I hope they only expand the Air line (add 15 and 17 inch versions) and don't ruin the MacBook Pro line w/ this idiotic BS..

Do Not Want!!!
post #30 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

Thunderbolt. The question is will Apple get smart & come up with some of their own solutions to that just like how with the arrival of the Air they started selling their own USB ethernet adapter. It's been the 1 frustration over thunderbolt I have, if Apple wants adoption they need to make their own products to support it & prove the worth of developing devices for it to the OEMs.

I see ThunderBolt for pros and a new wifi based solid state external for the masses coming from Apple soon.

p.s. I was just listing to some Hot Tuna, do you ever get those Hezetation Blues too?
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post #31 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

If this is true, then it looks like my current MBP better survive for a while or it will be my last. There is nothing PRO about the current airs. I absolutely need an optical drive, and SSD are so far, well too small for me. THE GPU is underwhelming as well. I'm not carrying around external pieces to get one with my daily life for the sake of being thin.

I really doubt that a Pro version is going to come without discrete graphics and some form of internal mass storage. The optical drive as an integrated item is not really needed by most people but the other items (ports, GPU, mass storage) are very necessary IMO
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post #32 of 324
The only problem with market saturation is resell value impact. I've been trying to dump my '11 MBP, but it hasn't been so easy as previous generations. Seems like CL is flooded with these guys anymore. When depreciation rate rises, upgrading becomes more expensive and personally I'm not a fan of that trend.

On a side note.. thunderbolt is nice and all, I guess, but the MBP better get USB 3.0 support. Shelling out a couple hundred bucks for a conversion box is NOT a good solution for me.
post #33 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

Thunderbolt. The question is will Apple get smart & come up with some of their own solutions to that just like how with the arrival of the Air they started selling their own USB ethernet adapter. It's been the 1 frustration over thunderbolt I have, if Apple wants adoption they need to make their own products to support it & prove the worth of developing devices for it to the OEMs.

Thunderbolt adoption is rampant for a new tech. It's still not out from under the Apple exclusivity and we've already seen plenty of PC OEMs working to include it later this year. Even if you completely ignore the exclusivity between Intel and Apple it's still been less than a year since it was unveiled. I don't think USB came close to that speed of adoption.

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post #34 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwdsail View Post

Apple's laptops are too anorexic as it is.. Jesus.. Feed these things some BBQ Pork for God's sake!!!

I hope they only expand the Air line (add 15 and 17 inch versions) and don't ruin the MacBook Pro line w/ this idiotic BS..

Do Not Want!!!

So what use do you have for an ODD? This is going to happen and there's nothing you can do to stop it. It might not happen this year, but it will happen. And you'll have no alternative, because five years after that, PC laptops will stop including optical drives.

Come to think of it, that would still give you time to buy two PC laptops and have them live their entire lives, so have at it.

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post #35 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post

But what about people who need 500 GB storage? or wired ethernet?

I seriously think a "Pro" model will still use conventional HD in addition to an SSD boot drive. There will be plenty of room for it. You'll get wired ethernet too. The only thing you'll need to give up is the optical drive. There would be room for one, but they're the floppy drive of the 21st century. They add cost and weight and most people never or rarely use them. Since I got a MBA, I've rarely missed it. I got an external DVDRW and I think I used it once.
post #36 of 324
This is a fair representation of state of PC ultrabooks, rather than the one image shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJqPcZLOe9I
post #37 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

Is the Cube the only one that had no fan?

I am looking for decent price on SSD drive for my current MacBook Pro 2011 17" - got a 750GB 5400 RPM in there now - got a 500GB hybrid to swap in but could not get the 750 to work in the external enclosure - so wanting a Crucial M4 512GB SSD - but a bit more than I would care to spend at the moment. It will go nicely with the 16GB of RAM I recently installed.

I added the Crucial you are looking at. It was the best\\cheapest I found for that size. It works great. So weird and wonderful not to hear any disk noise.
post #38 of 324
Since we're taking requests I'd also like to see.


Bluetooth 4.0 - I'm eagerly awaiting the time I can replace my BT Apple KB with 4.0 models that last all FREAKING year off of two AA batteries.

4G Cellular technology -in every model. I want to be on the road and realize that I need connectivity yet i'm nowhere near a Wifi station and be able to purchase a month of Data from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint. Having GPS in a MBP would also allow me to start leveraging location based applications with a higher degree of accuracy.
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post #39 of 324
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post

Apple should not make the pros too much like the airs. If I wanted and air, I would purchase an air.

Yes, drop the DVD, I almost never use it. But do not drop the faster processor or the rotating HDD. And have room for BOTH an SSD and a conventional HDD. I would love to have my OS on an SSD with a 1 TB rotating hdd for data. By dropping the DVD there will be more then enough room for both.

I agree with you, the key thing for me is having the powerful processors. I'm sure they won't slack off on that for Pro models though.

SSD's I thought I might not be happy with, but since I got a Thunderbolt display, I'm actually less bothered about the size of the drive physically in the Mac, since there is always a couple of large storage drives attached to the display, and when I'm on the road, I need less storage space.

If they can keep the raw processing power of the current lineup, and reduce the weight, I'll be happy.
post #40 of 324
The processing power is a given.

Whatever comes down the pipe is going to be based on Ivy Bridge which is a lot more efficient than Sandy Bridge in power consumption.
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