Inside Apple's rumored 'new MacBook' vs. updated MacBook Pro

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
The rumored introduction of a "new MacBook" series alongside refreshed MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups next week presents some interesting possibilities for the future of the Mac. AppleInsider takes a closer look at where Apple could be headed next.

For months, Apple has been expected to introduce new, thinner MacBook Pros with high-resolution Retina displays. The notebooks are expected to take design cues from Apple's MacBook Air, but offer more power than the ultraportable notebook.

But on Friday, AppleInsider was first to report on a research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI, who indicated that the redesigned thinner notebook will instead be a new MacBook series, rather than a MacBook Pro. Kuo said he expects Apple to update and continue to sell the MacBook Pro, complete with an optical disc drive, for the near future.

However, beyond that, Kuo said he believes Apple plans to discontinue the MacBook Pro lineup in 2013, if the "new MacBook" proves as successful as the company hopes.

Kuo expects the MacBook Pro branding to live on in the short-term with new 13- and 15-inch notebooks featuring the same design as the current Pro models. But the updated MacBook Pros and "new MacBooks" are expected to have essentially identical horsepower, raising some important questions: Why would Apple offer two products that are so similar? Further, if Apple does actually retire the 17-inch MacBook Pro, why offer two competing notebooks in identical sizes of 13- and 15-inch screens?

Breakdown


Apple's rumored notebook shakeup, if true, could be the company's way of slowly renaming its lineup to simply "MacBook." Losing the "Pro" name by next year could be compared to how Apple ditched the generational numbering scheme with its new iPad. Some have also suggested Apple also intends to call its sixth-generation iPhone just the "new iPhone," continuing the same theme of simplified product names.

So what exactly would be the difference between the rumored "new MacBook" and the refreshed MacBook Pro products? Most notably, the legacy MacBook Pro would maintain the optical disc drive and thicker form factor currently found on the MacBook Pro lineup.

And while the updated MacBook Pros would look largely identical, the "new MacBook" is expected to offer a number of features not found in the MacBook Pro, allowing it to stand out from its counterpart beyond their identical performance capabilities. Namely, the "new MacBook" is rumored to exclusively feature:
  • A slimmer form factor of about 18mm for the 13-inch model and 19mm for the 15-inch
  • No optical disc drive on any models
  • Retina display resolutions of 2,560-by-1,600 for the 13-inch, and 2,880-by-1,800 for the 15-inch
  • Edges outside the display 50 percent narrower than the MacBook Pro
  • A larger battery capacity about 15 to 20 percent greater than the MacBook Pro
MacBook
Apple's future MacBook lineup is rumored to come in three sizes: 11, 13 and 15 inches.

Both the 13-inch "new MacBook" and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro are expected to have integrated Intel graphics, while the 15-inch varieties of both devices are said by Kuo to have discrete Nvidia graphics cards.

Those anticipated changes corroborate with a leaked specification sheet for a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that surfaced earlier this week. It showed an updated model with Intel's latest-generation Ivy Bridge processor and high-speed USB 3.0 ports, but no high-resolution Retina display.

So, is the "new MacBook" expected to be more of an "Air" or a "Pro?" Kuo thinks Apple will focus on the "Air" aspect of the new product, highlighting its new slim and light enclosure as the defining feature of the new MacBook series. He thinks the slimness of the "new MacBook" will be a greater selling point to consumers than its computational ability.

As Apple makes its notebooks thinner and ditches optical drives, Kuo expects Windows PC makers to follow suit in 2013. He noted that many companies are currently taking a "wait-and-see attitude" on where to go next.

"Even so, we think it will remain difficult for non-Apple (notebook) brands to make products that can match up to the new MacBook," Kuo wrote in his note to investors on Friday. "Aside from the enormous resources that Apple has put into designing a slimmer product, limited supply and higher cost of (notebook Retina displays) are a key hinderance."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 114
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 42,706member


    Why would the 13" AND the 15" have 2560x1600?



    And I only ask that because the 15" sticker we saw said that and not 2880x1800.

  • Reply 2 of 114
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member


    Well, SJ did say, when they unveiled the current form-factor MBAs that Apple saw that as the future of the laptop, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

  • Reply 3 of 114
    applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Why would the 13" AND the 15" have 2560x1600?



    And I only ask that because the 15" sticker we saw said that and not 2880x1800.



    It's all rumors, Tally.  Have patience until Monday.

  • Reply 4 of 114
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,345member


    The 15-inch sounds too good be true.


     


    CC at the ready, is the prediction here are even close. (Of course, assuming at least a 512GB SSD).

  • Reply 5 of 114


    That makes no sense. The MacBook was an entry level notebook that had just above adequate specs. This one is better than the MacBook Pro. And they're the same price? It doesn't make any sense. It would kill MacBook Pro sales.

  • Reply 6 of 114
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,938member
    I just hope Apple (Tim) keeps in mind that the second coming of Steve was about new innovation and simplification of the product line. The last thing Apple should do is have too many products. IMHO they won't make that mistake.
  • Reply 7 of 114
    tikimantikiman Posts: 68member


    "Inside" the "Rumored Specifications"? image


     


    Is that like:


     


    "Inside the Imagined DNA of Big Foot?"


     


    How National Enquirer of you.

  • Reply 8 of 114
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    I find it interesting to watch how Apple positions each of its products between one another in an effort to offer multiple computing solutions without cannibalizing any of their previous products.

  • Reply 9 of 114
    For goodness' sake, don't multiply, simplify! Merge the Air and Pro into a single MacBook line, 11", 13" and 15". At least the not-so-informed consumer will be able to choose more easily. And the pro users can get an external optical drive (I'm a pro user and haven't had a need for an optical drive for over 2 years, even with our limited broadband here in South Africa). Let's move forward, not sideways!
  • Reply 10 of 114
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member


    Personally, having SSD as the standard option and SSD + HDD as the second would make much more sense. Now the question remains what card will be used by nVidia.

  • Reply 11 of 114
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,143member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Well, SJ did say, when they unveiled the current form-factor MBAs that Apple saw that as the future of the laptop, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.



     


    Good point and if you look at the specs these MacBooks sound like MacBook Airs without the word Air. 


     


    I think that Apple is going to stream line the whole thing by basically creating Airs in 11, 13, 15 while dropping the word Air to just call them MacBooks. Then as some top of the line, perhaps only available by custom order online, they will have a single MacBook Pro model in each of the two larger sizes that still has the optical drive, firewire etc. And then perhaps a single 17 inch Pro model also only available online. And for now those Pro models might be the only ones with a Retina Display. Test run to work out battery kinks and such. If it goes well then all the portables will have it next year. Cinema Displays and iMac will go Retina because there is no battery issue for them. 


     


     




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    I just hope Apple (Tim) keeps in mind that the second coming of Steve was about new innovation and simplification of the product line. The last thing Apple should do is have too many products. IMHO they won't make that mistake.


     


    Given that Tim was Steve's right hand in charge of production logistics during that Second Coming, I think he knows the issues. It's the analysts that don't get it. And are assuming that everything is additive not replacement. 


  • Reply 12 of 114


    This makes no sense to me.  Put this up against the price list that was just revealed and there is only ONE set of Macbooks.  Who cares what the name is, it's still Apple's laptop line.  They won't have a high end and a low end version side by side at the same price.  This guy must work for Digitimes....

  • Reply 13 of 114
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,404member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by UnisZuurmond View Post



    For goodness' sake, don't multiply, simplify! Merge the Air and Pro into a single MacBook line, 11", 13" and 15". At least the not-so-informed consumer will be able to choose more easily. And the pro users can get an external optical drive (I'm a pro user and haven't had a need for an optical drive for over 2 years, even with our limited broadband here in South Africa). Let's move forward, not sideways!


    You are going to give up a lot of power if they merge everything into the Air line as it is today.

  • Reply 14 of 114
    gs turngs turn Posts: 30member


    I think they are just keeping the PRO for those who still need a Optical drive. They can't switch completely away from that yet.  They won't expect to sell many of the PRO models but they are beefing them up to the same performance level for those that still need that Optical drive.  This new model is the replacement for the PRO but they need to keep an Optical drive model around for a while.


     


    This new model will be more powerful than the Airs so they won't combine those two models.

  • Reply 15 of 114
    tailpipetailpipe Posts: 345member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by John Nugent View Post


    This makes no sense to me.  Put this up against the price list that was just revealed and there is only ONE set of Macbooks.  Who cares what the name is, it's still Apple's laptop line.  They won't have a high end and a low end version side by side at the same price.  This guy must work for Digitimes....



     


    Absolutely right. It will be a single simplified range of laptops in three sizes: 11", 13" and 15". Makes sense to call them MacBook. Within each product type there should be two processor options. BTO options should allow more RAM, larger hard disks, SSD versus HDD. And that's it. 

  • Reply 16 of 114


    Double post.  Sorry.

  • Reply 17 of 114
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member


    If this is true, it is a muddled mess IMHO. Shades of the Performa days when Apple had a bunch of slightly different models. Hard to believe.


     


    -kpluck

  • Reply 18 of 114
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    You are going to give up a lot of power if they merge everything into the Air line as it is today.



    Maybe they should keep the 17" as the only Pro model and "really" make it Pro with all the bells and whistles.


     


    I have the 15" MBP and I like having the optical drive, the ethernet plug, and the assorted I/O capabilities, but I rarely use them. I do however think a powerful CPU/GPU is important for graphics work when on the road. Ideally that sort of work is done on a desktop machine but occasionally I have to whip something together while on the road. Smoothly running Adobe CS is a must for me. Other than that, a notebook is a secondary device for me.

  • Reply 19 of 114
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by logandigges View Post


    That makes no sense. The MacBook was an entry level notebook that had just above adequate specs. This one is better than the MacBook Pro. And they're the same price? It doesn't make any sense. It would kill MacBook Pro sales.



    No sense at all.


     


    What do I want- a better screen, thinner, lighter, better battery laptop or one that is thicker, heavier, and a worse screen- oh... but it has a DVD drive.  All for the same price?

  • Reply 20 of 114
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by UnisZuurmond View Post



    For goodness' sake, don't multiply, simplify! Merge the Air and Pro into a single MacBook line, 11", 13" and 15". At least the not-so-informed consumer will be able to choose more easily. And the pro users can get an external optical drive (I'm a pro user and haven't had a need for an optical drive for over 2 years, even with our limited broadband here in South Africa). Let's move forward, not sideways!


     


    I think this new lineup makes perfect sense.  


     


    The MacBook Air is pretty much already the "low end" and the replacement for the old plastic MacBooks.  What they are doing here is splitting off the old-fogey users of the macBook Pro line while redesigning that line at the same time.  The only people that will go for the MacBook Pros in this lineup are those that still need some antiquated technology or are just unwilling to change.  A year or two from now and a few revisions of the new line later ... the group that hasn't switched is truly tiny, and the "Macbook Pros" are discontinued (or the new line is renamed as such).  


     


    This is all perfectly rational to me, and keeps the products lines at an absolute minimum while the transition happens.  It adds more weight to the idea that the 17" is history also.  

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