Maryann Tobin

Some say the Ultrabook market was born with the MacBook Air and there is plenty of evidence to support that claim. Since its introduction in 2008, Apple lit a fire in the portable computing market that Windows Ultrabooks have been chasing ever since. Yet as with all new technology, some ideas breakout as big hits and others leave loyal customers scratching their heads.

Apple has been driving the laptop market for years, but now may be pushing it instead. Not everyone wants a Super Model thin computer. But that is what the 2012 MacBook Pro may become if it ends up being morphed into a beefed-up 15 inch MacBook Air.

With the promise of faster Ivy Bridge processors just weeks away, if their scheduled Spring launch date holds true, the Ultrabook market will be poised to take the next step in faster, lighter, sexier machines.

Apple appears ready to roll the dice with a complete redesign of the MacBook Pro in 2012. But tinkering with their best seller could hold some risks for Apple fans who like the option of buying a laptop with an optical drive and an ethernet port.

As Apple rumors fly it's sometimes hard to tell where they're going to land. Regardless, it seems likely that there will be a new 15 inch MacBook in Apple stores in April that will resemble a MacBook Air, but with a Retina display similar to the type in the new iPad.

While few expect the 2012 MacBook Pro redesign to be anything other than another Apple success story, there is still a market for laptops you can take on a trip and play a DVD on, without dragging an external drive and wires around with you. After all, the whole idea of portable computing is portability. Even if people rarely use their ethernet port or optical drive, they like knowing they're there.

There is another danger for Apple with a major 2012 MacBook Pro redesign involving their newest converts from Windows to Mac. If there's one thing most Windows computers do not lack its ports, optical drives, and a plethora of other options. Those who want the choices Apple has eliminated may bolt back to Windows. That may not seem like an important issue for a technology giant like Apple, but its not a market segment that should be ignored either.

It's easy to forget that it was not the MacBook Air that brought customers flooding into Apple stores in record numbers; it was the iPad and iPhone, millions of which were purchased by people who still use Windows computers.

As merging technology brings Windows and Mac's closer together it will be the extra's that may separate true success stories from the struggling.

Apple has outstanding customer service and offers quality products. Whether or not that is enough to continue fueling the Apple fire with fewer laptop styles to choose from, is a gamble the company Steve Jobs built looks like it's willing to take.


2012 MacBook Pro redesign may mark the end of the entire MacBook Pro line

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