Maryann Tobin

Apple has pioneered innovation in the portable computer market. But could plans to essentially discontinue the entire MacBook Pro line in 2012 be a mistake?

“Although existing MacBook Pros continue to outsell MacBook Airs, the gap between the two has been contracting,” according to Apple Insider.

Apple appears to be taking those numbers and translating them into a queue to make their entire laptop line nothing but different size MacBook Air's. No more optical drives, limited space for ports, and card readers; no more Macbook Pro.

In this age of global access, is limiting choices really a good move?

If any company can successfully capitalize on a limited choice strategy it would be Apple. The entire company was founded by Steve Jobs as the epitome of simplicity. Yet throughout the company's history, it has not been completely immune to poor decisions that turned into a loss of market share. While that hasn't happened since the early years, it is still not impossible.

“Since introducing its first MacBook Air, Apple has seen its notebook sales increase nearly threefold.....A huge chunk of that growth took place in the 12-months after Apple revamped the Air with lower pricing and the addition of an 11-inch model, with shipments rising nearly 1 million units, ….” said Apple Insider.

Apple's best selling laptop line is still the MacBook Pro. And there are still millions of people who like the feel and features of a 13, 15 or 17 inch computer with substance, according to Apple's own sales figures.

The road to extinction for the MacBook Pro is rumored to begin with the 15-inch model. If it ultimately looks, acts and feels like a MacBook Air, it may take on the name plate as well, leaving just two larger models in the Pro lineup. That is yet to be revealed.

Sales of new Apple computers have traditionally been good and there is no reason to suspect that the introduction of a slim, fast 15 MacBook Air-type model will be any different.

The real test will come if and when Apple pushes the last true MacBook Pro off their production line. With no choices left but modified MacBook Air's in different sizes, will computer buyers for forced to move to a Windows machine?

Not all leaders are followed, and giants can indeed fall. That may look like a stretch of the imagination when it comes to the explosive growth of Apple over the past two years. But this is still the first major change in direction for Apple since losing founder Steve Jobs to cancer in late 2011.

Apple may indeed survive and thrive without the guiding hand of Jobs. Or the company may begin to slide because the loss of Jobs' unique genius turns out to be truly irreplaceable.

We will all find out in time. In the mean time, treasure your MacBook Pro, because it may go extinct by the end of 2012.


UPDATE: MacBook Pro 2012 release may include MacBook Air hybrid redesign and retina display

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