In a report this morning, one of the better Apple analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:
We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:
Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.
The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.
If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours – an outcome I’d personally prefer. Additionally, how can you make the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro any thinner?
It is so thin that the ports+ fan outlets barely fit now. It would also be an uncharacteristically short sub-1-year duration for the current design.
As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:
MacBook Air to share dual built-in microphone design of Retina MacBook Pro. We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.
Apple previously noted that the dual-microphone setup is ideal for voice apps like the included Dictation function.
Kuo expects the older, non-Retina MacBook Pros to freeze and be taken out of the spotlight, much like the iPod Classic (or Mac Pro?). The computer would continue to be sold but with the current Ivy Bridge processors, optical drive slots, and high-capacity hard drives.
The report also notes that MacBooks in general are not immune from the overall global slowdown in PC purchasing caused by the iPad and other tablet cannibalization. The expectation is that 2013 will see 12M units sold, off 1.6M from 2012’s 13.6M total.
Finally, Kuo notes that Apple’s move away from optical and hard drive based storage continues to shift orders to SSD producers:
SSD to be mainstream storage solution for MacBook. We estimate the market share of MacBook with SSD to rise from 45% in 2012 to 64% in 2013, far ahead of the industry’s 15-20%. We also expect SSD penetration to continue to trend up, with SSD eventually replacing conventional hard disk drive and optical disc drive.