Maybe when the economy picks up and Apple feels they can jack the price points on the MacBook Pro line.
The lack of a retina display on the iPad mini suggests that it will be some time before Apple can offer Retina displays at the same price points as conventional low res displays. When Retina-like resolutions are offered by other laptop manufacturers perhaps LG will have the volume needed to lower prices.
As far as losing the optical drives and soldering the DIMMs, that will be done on the next MBP revision. Thin now supersedes all other aspects of an Apple product. Consider that the MBP is 0.95" thin, while the rMBP is 0.71" thin. That makes the rMBP a full 0.24" better. The MBP also has an optional spinner HDD, those are ancient tech. You don't want an HDD with MOVING parts, that's just like an ODD! SSDs are the new thing and that's what you'll get with the next MBP revision, and YOU WILL LIKE IT!
As for those MBP users who think they're clever because they swapped out the ODD for a HDD, think again. They are using MBP with an SSD boot drive and a ginormous HDD for storage, on some immensely thick laptop. Apple will drag them into the future with new laptops that have only a single SSD and are finally thin enough to enjoy using. Once they use only 0.71", they will not miss the extra HDD storage. And with such a thin laptop, carrying around an extra external HDD and external ODD will be much, much thinner. It's all about liberating us from old rotating storage devices that are so 20th century.
I don't agree that it ever comes solely down to margins. There is a lot of balancing to it. Right now their margins are high enough to allow for some flexibility on the earlier portion of a product cycle.
Look at where rMBP prices are now at the beginning of the product cycle. Those prices are calculated based in part on estimated costs to build one at the end of its cycle. There is just no way Apple will get rMBP prices down to MBP levels anytime in the next couple years.
Also, the history at Apple suggests that when a product acquires significantly new technology, it's base price goes up. The Mac Pro is a case study in this, and Apple very likely wants to do the same thing with the MBP lineup. Fill the current MBP price structure with MBA, and shift the MBP up to the $2000+ range. Think of the rMBP as a test balloon.
Edited by Junkyard Dawg - 12/4/12 at 12:22pm