Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in a note to investors on Monday that Apple plans to unveil a slightly tweaked MacBook Air at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week. The thin-and-light will reportedly keep the same design as existing models, but will likely adopt a dual-microphone setup similar to the implementation seen in the current Retina MacBook Pro.
Kuo says the inclusion of a second mic comes as a result of positive feedback regarding the system's voice quality during VoIP and FaceTime calls. The microphones are also used for dictation, and the hardware revision could even be seen as a hint that Siri, Apple's voice-driven personal assistant for iOS devices, could be coming to the Mac.
As previously reported, the Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are expected to be powered by Intel's next-generation Haswell CPUs, but Kuo now believes Apple will not be updating the entry level non-Retina MacBook Pro to the new processor tech. Instead, he said the current models will continue to be sold as-is, with previous-generation Ivy Bridge processors.
"We think Apple will discontinue the upgrade of MacBook Pro?s CPU to Haswell this year, basically because now neither hard disk drive nor optical disc drive creates a better user experience," Kuo said. "While we expect Apple to continue retailing Ivy Bridge-supported MacBook Pro, this product line will likely be withdrawn from the spotlight going forward."
Source: KGI Securities
With the older Pro model moving closer to being phased out, Apple is increasingly turning to solid state drives as a mainstream storage solution for its laptop lineup. In 2013, the analyst estimates the market share of MacBooks with SSDs to reach 64 percent, up from 45 percent in 2012, well ahead of the industry average 15 to 20 percent.
Kuo notes, however, that the move to discontinue non-Retina MacBook Pro upgrades will negatively impact Apple's laptop shipments as the overall PC market continues to show weak demand. Along with a product line transition and cannibalization by the iPad, the analyst forecasts a MacBook shipment decline of 10 to 20 percent in fiscal 2013.