2007 – There have been a number of rumours and columns on various Mac websites suggesting that Apple could be preparing to release a “true” replacement for the 12″ PowerBook G4.
Dreaming of a 12″ MacBook Pro
The general consensus is that it would constitute a 12″ widescreen MacBook Pro. It would sit between the high-end 13″ black MacBook and the lower end 15″ MacBook Pro. To make it stand apart from the consumer MacBook line, the 12″ model would sport an anodized aluminum shell and include a graphics chipset with dedicated video memory like its larger siblings.
Additionally, you would get all of the new Macintel bells and whistles, such as a Core 2 Duo CPU, built in iSight, Front Row and the remote, a super fast front side bus, and all of the other benefits the Intel transition has brought to Apple notebooks.
You would have all of this for a couple of hundred pounds more then the high-end black MacBook.
How I See It
This is how I would see Apple positioning such a product – and to be honest I would welcome a 12″ MacBook Pro. Having been an owner of 12″ PowerBook G4 that was a joy to own, I was one of the many Mac fans who mourned its death and subsequent “replacement” by the 13″ MacBook.
Apple stated that the 13″ MacBook is its spiritual successor, but I’m not satisfied. As far as I’m concerned, the MacBook has nothing to do with the 12″ PowerBook. It’s larger, uses “vampire video”, has a polycarbonate case, and, well, just has none of the “cool factor” or obvious superiority that the 12″ PowerBook had over the iBook (the PowerPC equivalent of the MacBook).
There was something about the 12″ PowerBook that was just so damn cool. It was absolutely tiny – what would practically be considered a subnotebook in the Windows world – but with none of the shortcomings. Every time I removed it from my bag and opened it up, you could almost hear the gasps of awe that would emanate from onlookers. The same thing would happen with most Apple laptops, but with the 12″ PowerBook it was just little more prevalent. All of these factors make me crave a 12″ MacBook Pro.
Don’t Expect to See It
Unfortunately, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. The bottom line is that Apple feel that they have already provided us with a replacement, the 13″ MacBook.
If Apple were seriously intending to replace the 12″ PowerBook with an equivalent MacBook Pro, they would have done it by now. Apple wasted no time in replacing the rest of the Mac line with an Intel version, and a 12″ pro laptop was notable by its absence. By August of 2006, Apple seemed content that they had released every possible Macintel model, and if they felt a 12″ MacBook Pro was necessary, it would have arrived with the MacBooks at the latest. There would be nothing to gain in delaying its release.
I get the impression that Steve Jobs was becoming paranoid that the complexity of the PowerPC Mac line was descending back to the levels of mid 90s convulsion. At one point Apple had several iterations of Macs in an entry, middle, and higher end product matrix, and Jobs did some fine work in pushing aside the clutter and starting again upon his return to the company.
Perhaps he saw the Intel transition as an opportunity to streamline the product matrix, and a 12″ laptop is a casualty of that. Another model might be seen as an unnecessary embellishment on a pristine and compact product line.
As a result of this, the 12″ PowerBook G4 will become a collectors item for people who want a capable Mac that’s smaller than any of the current lineup.
The only way to persuade Apple otherwise is to kick up a fuss on websites like Low End Mac and hope Mr. Jobs takes note while he’s eyeing up his own 12″ PowerBook.
Update: Apple partially addressed this with the 13″ aluminum MacBook in October 2008, which became the 13″ MacBook Pro in June 2009. It was wider than the 12″ PowerBook G4, but about the same depth. Apple finally released a 12″ aluminum MacBook (although not a MacBook Pro) in March 2015 – nine years after the Intel transition had begun.
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