Apple’s pattern of releasing new hardware over the last few years, has been to release both 13″ and 15″ new models at the same time. This has held true over the last few Macbook Pro iterations, with a new 17″ version coming a few months later.
It may be that Apple is planning to discontinue the 13″ Macbook Pro altogether, in favor of a “beefier” 13″ AIR model (sans optical drive). Which is what the rumor mills seem to suggest is happening with “Air Downing of the 15″ model”, removal of the optical disk drive to make it lighter and thinner. Although, prices are dropping on Solid State drives which Apple is leaning towards in ALL models, making hard drive makers, well a bit nervous I imagine, but also more innovative.
Keeping an optical drive in the Macbook Pro 13″ model might make some sense for now, unless the 13″ Air can move UP to the processor and memory specs of the Pro line to replace it. But I don’t think users who want portability, like the idea of schlepping around an external DVD/burner/player. I don’t think Apple cares about eliminating parts they don’t actually make themselves (like floppy drives and optical drives). So it would not surprise me to see the model line up change in this way. Prices are dropping on Solid State drives, which Apple doesn’t make on their own yet, but that could be why they bought the Israeli company who has been designing them, and expanding a manufacturing plant very quietly in Israel.
As more Thunderbolt peripherals come online, and EVERYONE putting everything into one “cloud” or another, optical input is moving the way of the floppy and becoming “obsolete”. Remember Apple did this on the Bondi Blue iMAC (first consumer desktop computer model at the time without a floppy drive) and I wrote I thought they were crazy. Yeah like foxes!
Then they came out with the iPOD and I thought, who would ever want that? (I’ve had 3 iPods and three iPhones so far) Apple pushes the technology envelope and that is why they lead it. There has also been some speculation that Apple has been secretly bidding on mobile phone frequency or an outright purchase of T-Mobile USA to get it’s own wireless network. They love “end to end control” and up until now, the telecom companies have just been thorn in their side, except that they (Apple) got the better part of the iPhone deal than AT&T in the end, who are now forced to scramble for new mobile data frequency “air space” to accommodate all of the data hungry smart phones (and not just Apple’s).
What interests me more is when and where (or if) we will see a new Mac Pro form factor? Producers, Cad Artists, Video Producers, Scientists, all want all of the horse power they can get and up until now, the Mac Pro Tower has been THE TOOL in every advanced studio, lab and editing suite in the world. It’s the only Apple model with extensive expandability. Perhaps we will see a new CUBE model serve as the new PRO computer with less than the TOWER expandability, but significantly more than the current MINI. Perhaps a box with hot swappable hard drive bays right up front (wouldn’t that be novel for Apple to make something really user friendly? <JK>). With new 3 TERABYTE hard drives, a small form factor desktop editing powerhouse might really interest say, the ENG (Electronic News Gathering) and Pro Video markets.
In the PRO world it’s all about graphical processing speed, transportability of huge amounts of data, and HUGE amounts of easily accessible storage. Even in the field, I’ve seen large RAID arrays hooked up to MB Pro’s. The Mini is just that, a mini-mac at the cheapest price entry point. It was meant to convert aging PC labs in schools with good monitors and other peripherals NOT EVER to be a Mac Pro .
However, the iMAC seems to be a more popular choice even in the education market, not the mini. Editing Pro’s are now opting to go with with 27″ iMac models with two (2) Thunderbolt ports means a second, third or fourth monitor support and 1GIGABYTE AMD graphics cards, the iMac is a respectable competitor for that “high data manipulation” market. Rumor mills conjecture next iMacs will have 2 and 4 gigabyte nVIDIA graphics cards and not AMD. And you will be able to “daisy chain” multiple RAIDS so will the Mac Pro internal storage and expansion slots even be necessary?
The pundits point out that with iPhones and iPads are outselling MACS by a wide margin, adding they might abandon the “PRO” market altogether to become a “consumer product” only company. That would be a shame. I loved the 24″ iMAC I had but went to a 13″ Macbook Pro with the 24″ Display with all the connections for USB etc. With an AIR I would have had to buy an optical drive although I do have a few cases laying around, so that wouldn’t have been an issue. The AIR at the time just didn’t seem to have the horsepower I wanted for Dreamweaver and Photoshop, not to mention Final Cut Pro-X.
The Mac Pro form factor has been exactly the same since it was introduced with Motorola G5 chips. So it’s really gone long in the tooth. I’ve never really liked it that much as it is HUGE and is uncomfortable on a small desk usually winding up UNDER the desk. Unquestionably it was a beautiful engineering design – back then. Apple has gone through many iterations and changes of all of it’s other products, except for the case design of the PRO model. I think it’s about time, and I would like to see a couple new form factors, even Steve Jobs’ dream of the “perfect cube”.