You can call Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) a lot of things. Creative. Calculating. Iconic. Paranoid. I'd even go so far as to say ruthless. But sentimental? Never. Apple kills products and technologies almost as fast as it creates them.
Go ahead and add the 17-inch MacBook Pro to a list of victims that includes FireWire, the Mac Cube, the iBook, and the original Mac OS, trashed with the arrival of Mac OS X. Apple declined to include a 17-inch model when it rolled out new MacBooks at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference.
As investors, there are two things we might read into this:
- Size matters, sort of. Apple's larger-form-factor laptop was meant to appease creative types who needed a larger screen for design work. Trouble was, an oversized Mac didn't travel well, and most laptops now employ simple interfaces to oversized external screens. The newest MacBook Pros include HDMI ports for direct connections to high-definition displays.
- Power matters. Large laptops with large screens consume a lot of power. More power means more heat, and more heat means a larger, noisier fan. The newest MacBooks are getting flash drives and more efficient fans, which suggests that design chief Jony Ive and his team see power management as a top priority. A 17-inch laptop doesn't fit into that scheme.
And there are more changes. For example, the newest MacBooks won't have built-in Ethernet ports. Nor will they have DVD drives. You might say that Apple is stealing from the MacBook Air for its other models, taking a shot at so-called "Ultrabook" suppliers like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) in the process.
More practically, it seems the Mac maker wants consumers to get more comfortable using Wi-Fi and iCloud, which means we could see more investment in data centers and faster broadband radios built into future Macs. That's probably good news for networking chip partner Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) .
Either way, the death of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is just more evidence of Apple being Apple. Steve Jobs is gone, but Tim Cook has kept his legacy alive and well.
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