Apple is working on bringing the ground breaking style of its MacBook Air notebooks to the MacBook Pro product line, according to a report from AppleInsider. Citing unnamed sources, AI said that Apple will be dropping optical drives and moving to SSDs in order to deliver MacBook Pro performance in the same kind of ultra-thin form factors that have made the MacBook Air a genre-defining device.
“They’re all going to look like MacBook Airs,” the source told AI. That source also said that Apple will make the transition this year, starting with a new 15” MacBook Pro. A 17” model will follow afterwards, and it’s not clear what will become of the 13” MacBook Pro, as there is already a 13” MacBook Air.
This isn’t the first time stories and rumors about Apple making its Pro line look more like the Air line have circulated. In November of 2011, for instance, a story broke that Apple was ordering parts for such a device. Later that month, another story hit that Apple would add a 15” model to its MacBook Air product line.
Of course, we also saw a patent in October of 2011 that showed Apple was working on a way to deliver thinner form factors for notebooks that retained an optical drive, but that’s the beauty of Apple-related rumors. One can usually find one to support just about any thing.
AI’s story is a little different, however. It offers a lot of specifics on what will be included in the new devices, as well as a definite time frame. As such, it carries more weight to our eyes than some of the stories based on leaks from Apple’s supply chain on this issue from last year.
That said, the idea of Apple dumping optical drives, moving to SSD drives, and making the MacBook Pro thinner also has the benefit of making a ton of sense. Apple dumped optical drives on the Air, then the Mac mini, and it seems only a matter of time before it does so with its other Mac products as time goes on.
We should also note that Apple holds a pricing advantage over its PC competitors in producing laptops with the Air’s form factor. From the company’s lock on magnesium-aluminum casings to the manufacturing techniques Apple developed with its suppliers, the company has been the price leader for this form factor for the last two years. So much so, in fact, that Intel put up $300 million for a fund to help PC makers catch up to the MacBook Air.
The result is that the PC industry has found itself having to react to to Apple in that space and finding it difficult to do so. If the company can do something similar with its pro line, it could help Apple continue to gain PC market share in the years to come.