All eyes on the MacBookSeptember 18, 2008: 1:51 PM ET
With this year's iPhone and iPod updates behind them, Apple watchers have shifted their attention to the products that matter most to the company's bottom line: the MacBook and the increasingly long-in-the-tooth MacBook Pro.
Steve Jobs likes to refer to the Mac as one of the three legs of Apple's stool (the iPod and iPhone being the other two). But that makes for a pretty tippy stool; Macs represent more than 48% of Apple's quarterly revenue these days and MacBooks account for 62% of that.
Sales of Apple's laptops have been on fire lately (no overheating pun intended). On Wednesday, NPD reported that Apple's (AAPL) share of the North American notebook market grew from 6.6% to 10.6% over the past year -- a 60% increase that easily outpaced market leaders Dell (DELL; up 1.4%), HP (HPQ; up 0.9%) and Acer (down 22.6%). And although Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster predicts that when Apple reports its fourth quarter earnings in October, Mac sales will have grown only 30% year over year -- down from 55% in Q3 -- that's still something like 2.9 million machines sold in three months at Apple's fat profit margins.
Which makes it all the more surprising that Apple has waited so long to spruce up its notebook line -- the laptop-scorching MacBook Pro, in particular. As Seth Weintraub points out at Computerworld.com, the look and feel of the MacBook Pro is essentially unchanged from the titanium Powerbook that Steve Jobs introduced at Macworld 2003 -- a couple of lifetimes ago in computer terms.
Well that's all supposed to change on Oct. 14, when the long-awaited revamped notebooks are due to be introduced, according to sources said to be familiar with Apple's plans. What will they look like? To jump start the conversation, Weintraub on Wednesday posted his wish-list of features, among them:
- An one-piece aluminum frame with a rounder, skinnier shape (a la MacBook Air)
- A high-res 16-inch LED backlit screen
- Built-in 3G wireless technology, perhaps even WMAX
- A multi-touch glass trackpad
- HD video out
- Built-in GPS (for what purpose is not clear)
- Blu-Ray disk drive (this he's not so sure about, since it might cut into iTunes Store sales)
- Solid-state disk drive optional
- HD camera
- All at the current price points ($1099 for the MacBook, $1999 for the MacBook Pro) (link)
That's almost certainly too much to ask for, but a guy can dream, can't he?
Images purporting to be photos of the new machines have already started to appear on the Web. The one at right showed up earlier this week on a German T-Mobile website, but the consensus seems to be that it's a fake. If history is any guide, however, we should be seeing fuzzy spy shots of the real thing any day now.