Right now if you want a 15-inch or larger notebook from Apple, you have to go MacBook Pro — the thinner, lighter MacBook Air notebooks come only in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. But that could change in the next few months.
It’s been rumored before, but on Wednesday a new report is saying that not only will Apple(s AAPL) introduce a 15-inch Air, it will replace the 15-inch Pro, or as Electricpig’s source put it, “effectively killing the Pro for the average consumer.” That is, the 17-inch MacBook Pro might hang around for professionals who need that larger screen. They place the timing of the rollout of new MacBook Airs in April.
The source is a “premium Mac accessory maker” involved in docking solutions. That they would have direct knowledge of Apple’s plans isn’t too likely, but that they would be planning for an updated MacBook would be very much expected.
But whether the source does have direct knowledge or not, expanding the MacBook Air lineup is a very logical step for Apple to take. After using an Air for any amount of time, the Pro, while more powerful and with more ports, feels bulky by comparison.
The Air is no longer an expensive, niche device: the 13-inch Air starts at $1,299 and the 13-inch Pro starts at $1,199. It’s one of Apple’s best-selling laptops — as of last fall, it accounted for nearly a third of MacBooks sold. That’s a good demonstration that Air characteristics that were once considered trade-offs (no optical drive, no ethernet port, less local storage) aren’t barriers for everyone, especially in today’s cloud- and iCloud-centric computing era.
For these reasons it’s fairly easy to see why Apple would want to expand the Air lineup to larger screen sizes and potentially more buyers. But it’s true that the Air isn’t for everybody. Would you be disappointed if Apple discontinued the 15-inch MacBook Pro?