June 24, 2012

Predicting the Next Mac Desktops

Dan Benjamin:

"I bet we don't see retina displays in any other Macs for some time, and when we do, they'll be in the smaller-screen models (like MacBook Airs) and not larger models, like iMacs or new Apple Displays."

Agreed.

My predictions, based on what we saw at WWDC two weeks ago and Apple's usual MO:

  • There will be no 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, not this year or next. "Pro" will denote the fastest processors, most storage, discrete GPU, largest display and marginally less portable form and weight. It will be Apple's "no compromises" portable machine. That means 15-inches of Retina glory in a reduced-thickness slab of aluminum. Prices will remain significantly higher than the MacBook Air line, commensurate with this model's top-flight components and capabilities.
  • End of the line for non-Retina MacBook Pros comes next June. If you prefer expandability in your Mac laptop, buy the current, refreshed models. They won't re-appear after their numbers become constrained next summer. After that, Pro means what you see in today's Retina model.
  • No large-format Retina products until next year, soonest. As Marco points out, today's MacBook laptops cannot drive them with the current incarnation of Thunderbolt: "If a 27” Retina Display is a “2X” version of the current panel, that’s a 5120x2880 panel — running that at 60 Hz requires more bandwidth (over 21 Gbps for 24-bit color) than Thunderbolt offers today (up to two 10 Gbps channels)."
  • 11- and 13-inch Retina MacBook Airs will appear next June. These will be priced lower than the MacBook Pro, hopefully no more than today's price points. Retina displays will have to come down in wholesale price-per-inch before this can happen. In any event, 11-inch and 13-inch screen sizes lend themselves to easy portability, a compromise away from the Pro line.

Late summer and fall of this year will be all about refreshed iPods and the next generation iPhone, iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion, and enhancements to iCloud. And maybe that TV thing.

But hey, isn't that enough?!

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