Apple’s MacBook Pro 13in, which was been around for ages, was this year superseded by a
new 14in model with an updated design and more ports. Yet the old 13in Pro with M1 and Touch Bar (!) remains part of
Apple’s product range. And it’s hard to see why anyone would buy it when the MacBook Air offers the same performance at a lower price.
So committed is Apple to the 13in form factor, in fact, that’s it’s rumoured to be getting an update. According to Bloomberg, Apple will launch an updated 13in MacBook Pro next year, as one of
five new Macs in 2022.
Presumably it’s just a brain transplant – a switch from M1 to M2 – in the same old chassis. Apple is unlikely to want to spend big bucks updating an old model.
Maybe this is the last MacBook with a Touch Bar. (It was
always doomed.) Will it even get MagSafe? That would mean an updated manufacturing process, and we know Tim Cook only spends money on things like that if he feels he really needs to.
But why even bother with changing the processor? With the next MacBook Air rumoured to get such big changes, it’s time for Apple to rethink its MacBook strategy.
End of an Air-a
new MacBook Air is rumoured to be getting an M2 processor, along with an all-new design instead of that classic wedge shape that’s been around for over a decade. With such a generational shift, it’s also time for a new name.
Here’s a golden opportunity for Apple to let the MacBook Air become a new-generation MacBook instead – especially as the wedge shape that has characterised the Air line is phased out. Besides, “Air” doesn’t say anything any more, when there’s no standard MacBook to compare it to. Just MacBook is enough.
With the M2, Apple also has the chance to make the next MacBook (Air) even more capable. If the M2 supports 32GB of RAM instead of the current 16GB in the M1, that would raise the ceiling even higher for the consumer market, and could be enough for someone who might otherwise have gravitated to a MacBook Pro. We’d be talking about a perfectly respectable semi-professional laptop.
(Also, why not release it in dark grey and silver, for those who think green and yellow don’t fit on the conference table?)
But all of this leads us to the next question. What room is there left for the MacBook Pro 13in?
A new product grid for 2022
The classic Apple square that Steve Jobs drew in the 1990s to tidy up and explain Apple’s product range would be just as appropriate for the Mac in 2022.
MacBook Air (or just MacBook)
This is what Apple’s Mac lineup could look like in 2022. Note that we’ve omitted the Mac mini and Mac Pro.
In a nutshell, we’d be looking at a MacBook for the masses and a MacBook Pro for those who need more. It’s hard to see what could be wedged in between, especially not an old legacy product that lacks MagSafe.
Some experts disagree – or think that Apple disagrees. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, for example, thinks Apple will indeed squeeze a new processor into an old shell. To which we’d reply that either Gurman is misinformed or Apple’s thinking is off the wall.
If the choice is between a ‘good enough’ MacBook with M2 and modern design, or an absolute monster with M1 Pro/Max and a 14in screen, who would choose a tired old MacBook Pro 13in? A device, moreover, with a Touch Bar, a five-year-old design, and no MagSafe.
We know Tim Cook is an expert at saving money when he can. The iPhone had basically the same design for four years (from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 8), a design that now lives on in the
iPhone SE. Reusing the same old chassis, the same old components, is a great way to save development and manufacturing costs for Apple.
Cook would certainly like to squeeze a few more years out of his old MacBook Pro 13in design. But how about swallowing the stinginess and showing some pride in Apple’s products instead?
Imagine those laptops lined up in the Apple Store. A modern MacBook with M2 on the left. A blazing-fast 14in MacBook Pro on the right. And then, in the middle, a relic of yesteryear with thick screen bezels and a greasy Touch Bar that reflects the pale glow of the lights. The only reason to buy that computer would be a really attractive price, but Apple isn’t one for bargains.
It’s time to rip off the plaster, and let the old MacBook Pro die.
Different Think is a weekly column, published every Tuesday, in which Macworld writers expose their less mainstream opinions to public scrutiny. This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation (using
DeepL) by David Price.