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Apple Is a Cold-Blooded Killer

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.

iTune in
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Qualcomm. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2012, at 10:07 PM, militauro wrote:

    I'm curious to know what it means not to have a DVD drive on your top of the line laptops. From Apple's perspective, sure this makes sense. They don't sell CD's in the physical form, why not continue killing off the format? For people like me that specifically purchased the Macbook Pro line in order to upload my CD's (yes, I still have them and occasionally still get them), what happens now? Theoretically if you are new to Apple's ecosystem, what do you do with your CD's???

    I better upload what I have and start buying digital only then. Which I think is what Apple wants me to think/do.

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 1:22 AM, applefan1 wrote:

    Well, this is what I read into it. Until Apple makes an official YES or NO, then the only thing was the previous model. See, the noise and heat factor may not be a problem since Apple took out the DVD drive, designed new quieter fans, so the only thing I can think of is that there is a possibility 50% until otherwise specified that a 17 inch COULD happen, just may have to wait for screens to become available. My rational is that the MBPR is for the Professional Market and Professionals like real estate for the screen. So, while they didn't show a 17 doesn't mean they won't come out with one. I stay on the level of if they do, they do, if they don't, they don't. But I won't say either way until Apple makes an official YES or NO statement. In the mean time, they still announced the best 15inch laptop.

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 1:52 AM, applefan1 wrote:

    Well, Motley Fool, you guys said that Apple was abandoning the Pros by not making the MacPro, yet Tim Cook announced that there WILL be product being announced and shipping next year.

    What i see is that Apple is migrating from normal screen resolution to this Retina display technology and that's their new trend.

    In addition, I see that what we are used to (Moore's Law) isn't happening as fast as we've grown accustomed to. That's all.

    It's a transitional phase and while people can use their current equipment longer than they used to because the systems are getting fast enough for MOST people and ALL of the companies like Intel, GPU companies, etc. are just progressing at whatever rate they are progressing at and sometimes Apple feels that it would be better to upgrade when there is a significant reason to refresh a product. Obviously a LOT of R&D was involved with this MBPR and when they have to figure several problems like heat and noise at the same time, new emerge that make a significant advancement. Most people don't think of a fan, because it isn't a big deal, but to change the fan blades from an engineering standpoint IS. If, by chance, Apple has a patent on that and they end up not licensing it, you can bet they'll use that in ALL of the systems they produce which will make a serious competitive advantage.

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 2:18 AM, gilsh wrote:

    Killing products quickly has advantages and disadvantages. If Microsoft would have killed windows at version 2.0, it would not be around today and Apple would have its place as PC-tzar. If Microsoft would not have killed os/2 when it did, it would not have been around today, and IBM was holding that place.

    Professionals need large screens. But they don't need them on the road. size is a simple cost/benefit ration, and it is most probable that Apple did the 17" ditching because of Apple's coming TV strategies, which have to - one way or another - deal with large screens.

    @TyrantBone, with an external DVD working at USB3 speeds, you will not feel the difference (except in one place - your pocket, for the external cost of that new hardware....).

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 6:22 AM, applefan1 wrote:

    I disagree. There are plenty of professionals that use 17inch MBP for ProTools, Logic, FCP, etc. that actually need that real estate to view since there is a LOT of information they have to deal with. I talked with someone that works in the music industry and knows of a bunch of people that use it for ProTools/Logic and the 17inch was the unit they used. The way they designed the 15MBPR, would make the 17inch lighter, thinner, and would be faster, far better screen to view. I also met a graphics designer and his go to machine was the 17inch and he didn't mind carrying it around. it's there unit of choice. If Apple used higher density RAM to squeeze 32G, they'd get it. The higher end users will utilize anything they can get their hands on. It also makes the ultimate desktop since some people like to use their laptop in several rooms in the house. I also know kids that go to college and one thing some of them do is get a 17 laptop. He does programming, doing his homework, watching movies, playing video games.

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 12:25 PM, melegross wrote:

    TyrantBone, you can always get an inexpensive external DVD writer for USB. Those are available for $50, if you look around, some are cheaper on sale. Apple offers a small, light and thin model for $80.

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2012, at 12:26 PM, millsbob wrote:

    hey, y'all -- Tim is right on this one.

    i'm one of those audio pro's. was planning on getting a refurb last-gen 17" at this announcement, but now waffling, because honestly, for the same price, the retina model offers some interesting things.

    as he said, we all use multiple displays anyway, so 17", while nice, isn't a show-stopper.

    and, contrary to what you think, when i go out in the field, i Don't want a 17"; i currently have 3 MacBook Pro's, and the one that goes out with me is a 15"; it just fits everyplace better, is less baggage, and it gets the job done.

    but if you're waiting for a 17" with retina, it ain't gonna happen. 17" was already less than 1% of mac sales; it just Is Not Worth It to Apple to continue. i've talked to Apple Store employees who've worked there for 2 years and sold One 17" in that time. if you know the way Steve -- and Tim -- think, that just isn't going to continue. sorry.

    is that gonna make me hate Apple? is the postponement of the Mac Pro upgrade gonna make me hate Apple? no, i'll just figure out how to transform my operations even more radically with the new stuff.

    otoh, what Does bug me is that Lion has been a Giant step backwards for multiple screen Spaces users. virtually NOTHING works like it's supposed to. if that doesn't get fixed in ML, then yes, i will start to get very angry with the OSX crew.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2012, at 7:26 PM, militauro wrote:

    Thanks for recommending the external DVD drive, but I was writing more about the casual consumer that would think having no DVD drive would matter. I think eventually that will be the case, but too soon to do it now IMO.

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