Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why didn't Apple update MacBook Pros yesterday?

I was asked this by a couple of people yesterday. The answer is actually pretty simple. With rare exceptions, Apple never announces a computer system before it can ship it in quantity anymore. Santa Rosa-based Core 2 Duo machines were announced from most vendors last week, but if you check their availability online, you'll typically have to wait around a month to get your new Santa Rosa laptop.

This works OK for the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world because they will still be selling plenty of other laptop models with the current tech - standard operating procedure for them is to just designate a slightly different model number and then phase out the old one over time. In Apple-land, not so much. Apple's only got three laptops total (MacBooks, and two sizes of MacBook Pro), so if they preannounce a MacBook Pro without chips to ship them immediately they'll Osbourne themselves for an extended period. Has Apple preannounced systems before? Sure, when it makes sense for them. For instance, Xserves were preannounced four months before they were available - and the G5 version was only available for about a month after the initial announcement, so for almost three months you couldn't buy any Xserves at all! Xserve is a niche product for Apple, so they figured the ability to announce that the whole Intel transition was complete outweighed the impact of deferred sales.

So anyhow, I still expect to see a MacBook Pro announcement possibly as soon as next week, but maybe another week or so later. And at some point after that we'll get a move of the MacBook itself to Santa Rosa - but not before the MacBook Pro is on the market. And even though it's only a minor speedbump, I still may well wind up with one in the office at some point - with three employees who need a computer all the time, I really should buy something to have as a spare. And price-wise, I'm way better off with a MacBook than letting a MacBook Pro rot on the shelf.

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