WWDC kicks off next week and in traditional fashion, a keynote headlines the event Monday morning. Much is expected from this year’s show including iOS 6 and new Macintosh desktops and laptops. So far the rumor circuit has been a buzz with talk of a complete hardware refresh including Apple bringing back the MacBook brand, adding a retina display to at least one model and finally employing Intel’s latest silicon that will also bring USB 3.0 to Macs for the first time.
What follows is the first post in a series rounding up nearly every rumor concerning Apple’s WWDC notebook announcements (iOS 6 and Mountain Lion to come) no matter how far-fetched or wild — some will likely come true and others probably won’t.
MacBook Pro Redesign
- A revamped MacBook Pro line will launch at WWDC
- New models will be thinner without an optical drive
- The MacBook Pro hasn’t seen a new design in two years
- Several credible rumors state the same message of thinner design, no optical drive and USB 3.0
- See next rumor
Judgment: Likely. The MacBook Pro is long overdue for some new digs. It’s a safe bet that if it doesn’t happen at WWDC — it is a developer’s conference after all — Apple will announce the new models in the coming weeks to get a head start on the lucrative back to school season.
A revival of the MacBook brand
- Name would be just MacBook
- Prices would start at $ 1399 for a 13-inch model, $ 1,799 for the 15-inch
- No optical drive and optional SSD
- Would eventually replace the MacBook Pro
- Comes by way of AppleInsider sourcing a KGI analyst
- MacBook is a known brand
- The stats match up with previous rumors
- A third line of Apple notebooks would cannibalize existing sales
Judgment: Possible. Apple is set to kill the optical drive in its notebooks, but doing so in the so-called Pro line would diminish ever so slightly the line’s professional brand.
New Intel Chipsets
- Apple will finally employ Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs
- The current MacBook, MacBook Pro lines use older Intel CPUs.
- Intel is currently rolling out Ivy Bridge CPUs.
- Apple generally uses the latest generation of Intel chips
- Apple sometimes works in mysterious ways
Judgment: Highly likely if Apple announces notebooks at WWDC. Apple’s current notebook line use relatively antiquated Intel CPUs. It’s time for an update. If Apple doesn’t announce notebooks at WWDC, look for new notebooks with Ivy Bridge CPUs in the coming weeks.
USB 3.0 on the MacBook Pro
- USB 3.0 will join Thunderbolt on the MacBook Pro
- If Apple finally deploys Ivy Bridge CPUs, USB 3.0 is supported natively
- Apple sometimes works in mysterious ways
- Apple is pushing the competing high-speed interconnect standard of Thunderbolt.
Judgment: Highly likely if Apple announces notebooks at WWDC. This feature is dependent on the Intel chipset.
A retina display in a notebook
- Apple will use a higher resolution, likely retina-quality display in a notebook — either a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
- High resolution icons have been found in OS X
- Next generation AMD and NVIDIA GPUs can push crazy resolutions
- Super high resolution screens are very pricey
- A higher system resolution could disrupt current applications and development
Judgment: Unlikely even though retina displays is a strong part of Apple’s product branding strategy. There is little benefit to roll out very expensive high resolution displays when there isn’t much built for the new resolution yet. If this is in the cards for future models, Apple might announce high resolution support alongside Mountain Lion.
17-inch MacBook Pro to get the ax
- Apple is discontinuing the largest MacBook Pro amid slow sales and a new notebook strategy with a revived MacBook line replacing eventually the MacBook Pro series
- The 17-inch MBP is the least selling Apple notebook, capturing only 1.7% of sales in 1Q2012
- A smaller, high resolution screen could replicate the workflow of larger screen
- The 17-inch might not sell well, but it’s a true mobile workstation
Judgment: Won’t happen at WWDC. If true, this will likely come later this year. The cancellation of the 17-inch model is dependent on higher resolution screens that won’t likely be available in mass quantities until later this year or early next. A higher resolution 15-inch could in theory replicate the large screen of a lower resolution display like the one currently found in the 17-inch.
Look for two other posts in the coming days detailing iOS 6 and Mountain Lion’s rumors. WWDC 2012 is set to be the biggest developer’s conference yet.