The new MacBook lineup

The new Retina MacBook Pro’s display is gorgeous, sure. But it is, compared to the Air, a ‘big machine’. And heavy, 2,02 KG vs. the Air’s 1,35 KG. A couple of years ago, one had to go ‘Pro’ to avoid the plastic white MacBook or an Air that wasn’t quite there yet. But the new Pro reminds reminds me that it is part of a ‘Pro’ brand. The ‘Pro’ stands for ‘professional’, and who really needs professional computing power today? Photographers, programmers and (mobile) gamers (or, in the case of the new Retina Pro, Geeks who can’t stand not to have the latest technology on their lap). Today, our smartphones have dual- or quadcore processors. Since last year’s model, the Air does it all. And it doesn’t sit heavy on your lap while it does that. The new Retina Pro does sit heavier on your lap, but is a whole workstation.
So, why didn’t Apple discontinue the ‘old’ 13- and 15-inch Pros like they did with the 17-inch? (MG Siegler wonders)

The answer lies with Apple’s supply constraints, I think. The Macs don’t sell in the same quantities the iOS devices do, sure. But the new Retina Pro shipping has already climbed up to 3-4 weeks. That’s exactly what happened to the new iPad. So, in order to get ‘Macs’ (in general) out there, Apple keeps some last-generation models around - and updates their internals. Maybe that ‘getting Macs out there’ is the real iOS-ification of the Mac.

I think it is important to take a step back here and take a look at what is happening. A next-generation piece of technology is announced, ‘shipping today’. And all the geeks seem to be disappointed that this kind of technology isn’t in their hands yet or available in the specific form factor one craves. ‘Why do you keep shipping this outdated crap?’ is the reaction. Not realizing that the technology just announced is - again - for professionals. Hence expensive and available only in small quantities. There are plenty people out there who are very lucky without a retina display on their laptop.

With iOS devices, Apple made us get used to the idea that new technology is announced and, two months later, in the hands of every other guy on the subway. With (latest generation) Macs, is has to be different. Take a look at Horace Dediu’s graph from February on Mac vs iOS sales.

Everything coming down to: The new ‘MacBook Pro with Retina Display’ (bad name, not just for a flagship product) is one hell of a machine, and of course it shows where laptops, notebooks and technology in general is going. But bleeding edge technology is never the sweet spot for most consumers. Again: Since last year’s revision, the MacBook Air is that sweet spot, so much the more since the recent update.

Update: Oh, Andy Ihnatko makes the same point in his review:

But is it this the best MacBook for everybody? Oh, dear, no. Apple clearly and consistently refers to the Retina MacBook as a next-generation, future-forward product. It doesn’t replace the conventional 15-inch MacBook Pro in Apple’s product line.

Update 2: Similar thoughts over on MacWorld, via

Update 3: Anandtech thinks were at a crossroad. I agree.

The personal computer is getting thinner, lighter, more integrated and more appliance-like. The movement is no longer confined to just Apple either. The traditional PC OEMs are following suit. Even Microsoft has finally entered the PC hardware business, something it threatened to do for years but hadn’t until now. Distribution models will change, the lines between different form factors will continue to blur. What was once a mature industry is going through a significant transformation. It’s exciting but at the same time it makes me uneasy. When I first got into this industry everyone had stories of companies with great ideas that just didn’t make it. As we go through this revolution in computing I’m beginning to see, first hand, the very same.

Test. <- Commited with the GitHub App for Mac OS X. n_n.