Earlier this week Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) made a near-silent update to its iMac lineup, upgrading to the Haswell processor. While the computers will run on this better-performing Intel product, the company has so far left out a key product line update: the MacBook Pro.
What the Haswell is going on?
The new iMacs will sport the faster next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity and PCIe-based flash storage, which can make the units up to 50% faster than previous models. But the biggest upgrade was with the Haswell processors. The new chips were brought into the MacBook Air line over the summer and have a better battery life and integrated graphics performance. While the upgrades are good, integrated graphics and better battery life don't mean as much for desktop computers as they would for portables.
That's why it's important for Apple to introduce the new Haswell chips into the MacBook Pro line. The 13-inch version doesn't have its own dedicated graphics GPU, and the integrated graphics on the Haswell could improve the computer's capabilities -- including battery life, which is critical to any laptop upgrade and would be a welcomed feature for consumers. When the MacBook Air switched to the Haswell chips, the 13-inch model gained five hours of battery life and the 11-inch model gained four hours -- all with the same-size battery as previous versions.
A little room for growth
The last time Apple broke out its revenue for the portable Mac units -- meaning laptops -- was back in fiscal Q4 2012 when the company brought in $5.36 billion from the devices. That revenue came from sales of 3.9 million portable Mac units, compared to the 2013 fiscal third quarter total Mac sales of just 3.7 million. Overall, all Mac sales comprise about 13% of Apple's total revenue.
Investors should look for the new Haswell chips in MacBook Pro series sometime next month. The Pros are the company's most popular Mac devices, and while the new chips won't stop the trend toward tablets, it could help bump up Apple's overall Mac sales and add some new life to its portable lineup.
Obviously, Mac sales aren't as essential as iPad and iPhone sales for Apple, but there is still need for portable devices that have more processing capability than tablets. In the second quarter of this year, Apple claimed the No. 3 spot in U.S. PC shipments, grabbing 11.5% of market share. HP and Dell grabbed the top two spots, which means there's more room for Apple's PC growth.
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