Apple Reportedly Bringing MacBook Air Styling to Pro Line

| Rumor

The MacBook Pro Crystal BallApple 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.

Popular TMO Stories



Like the idea BUT they’d better not sacrifice power for longer battery life and lower weight.

The current ones are big, and I wouldn’t miss the optical drive, but they also have both an Intel HD Graphics 3000 card and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M/6770M with 512Mb/1Gb VRAM respectively. Quad core i7 processors. Up to 750Gb HDD. These things pack serious power.

What I’d like to see is a really solid video card with 1Gb dedicated VRAM. A smallish (say 128Gb) SSD for booting AND space for a second big HDD for data. Sure, a Thunderbird port but also USB, an SD card reader, headphone and mic plugs, and a separate video port. For a chip let’s say quad core Ivy Bridge starting at 2.5Ghz with 8GB RAM expandable.

And make it at the same price point as the current model.


For some reason I’m a little reluctant to part with the DVD drive.  I use mine occasionally, like to pop in a movie when I’m on vacation.  But I imagine that when I see them, if they’re as alluring as the MBAs, then I’ll probably still want one.


Like the idea BUT they?d better not sacrifice power for longer battery life and lower weight.

Important point, geoduck.

I have 17” MBP with a quad core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 500 GB SSD. It’s a serious machine that allows me to do high end data analysis with Stata multicore at speed. I would hate to see that go. If anything, I want more RAM, but not less power.

That said, having bought my wife a 13” MBA this past December (just in time for a US tax deduction), I admit to air-envy. I would love to have comparable performance specs to those of my current machine in the form factor of an Air. Increasingly, I see colleagues at conferences with Airs where last year they had Pros. The reason is simple - portability.

My feeling is that Apple would only be making such a move, if true, if they had figured out how to alter the form factor without substantially sacrificing performance, otherwise we might have seen this sooner. The field is too competitive, and their computer marketshare too low, to have nothing but a fleet of anaemic under-performing machines as their pro line. They would be gifting their competition a major tactical advantage otherwise.


IF Apple does away with optical drives in the MBP line, I will go Hackintosh for my next Mac portable.  I use optical disks for all kinds of purposes, from watching movies to archiving business and household finance data. Flash drives or SD cards don’t cut it for back-up or archiving, as far as I am concerned. I’ve had too many flash drives and SD card failures to consider them reliable. Compared to other types of storage, including flash memory, data on an optical disk is far less likely to degrade or become corrupt over time, with additional measure of being immune to electrical fields.  And to me, portable means not needing to attach another device (ie: external optical) to my laptop to get the performance I desire.

There is a 1.5 pound difference between the 13” MBA and the 13” MBP, and a 1/4’ difference in height. For the convenience of a B/I optical drive, and the added power of the MBP line, I do not think that extra 1.5 pounds is that big a deal.  Besides, the vast majority of us are rather lacking in the area of exercise as it is. I remember when it was not that big a deal to haul around a PowerBook G3. Are we becoming TOO spoiled?

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account