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2012 MacBook Pro launch signals first look at merged MacBook Air style: Apple quality downgrade?

The MacBook Air has come a long way since its introduction in 2008, but it has never surpassed sales figures for the MacBook Pro. This leads to questions surrounding the latest suggestions that Apple may be planning to completely abandon the design of the MacBook Pro, and move toward a single line of ultra thin laptops that all look like the MacBook Air.

"Some rumors have suggested that the MacBook Pro and Air lines are to be combined, streamlining Apple's laptop range under the simple "MacBook" banner once more," according to Tech Digest.

Streamlining is not necessarily a sign that quality will suffer, and it may in fact turn out to be just another sign that technology is heading toward fewer styles and devices that all perform the same function. However, the change that is on its way to Apple Stores for the MacBook Pro, go far beyond any hardware upgrades. This revolution is attempting to juxtapose the more popular MacBook Pro as the premier style for Apple laptops, and replace it with the MacBook Air design. That is a bold move for Apple no matter how you look at it.

The public may embrace a radically redesigned MacBook Pro and pull out their wallets for the latest upgrade, but if sales are slower than expected for a redesigned MacBook Pro that has shed its optical drive, Apple may have to rethink plans to morph the entire line into MacBook Air's.

For one thing, bringing out a redesign is not the same as eventually eliminating the look of an entire model like the MacBook Pro. So the bigger question has to be, is this a case of technology leading design, or is Apple streamlining their product line because it's easier and cheaper to make all their laptops the same, but in different sizes? And if the latter is the case, does it go against the everything the higher quality Apple brand has prided itself on since its inception?

The MacBook Air is without a doubt the ultrabook style that PC makers have strived to imitate since it revolutionized the portable computing market in 2008. And any flaws in previous generations of the 3 year old design will likely be erased when Ivy Bridge technology makes its debut in the 2012 MacBook Air. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that eliminating the MacBook Pro design will work for Apple customers that have made the design a best seller.

"People familiar with Apple's roadmap say the Cupertino-based company currently plans to exit 2012 having completed a top-to-bottom revamp of its notebooks lineup that will see new MacBook Pros adopt the same design traits that have made its MacBook Airs an increasingly popular choice among mobile consumers," according to Apple Insider.

Apple has been famous for limiting choices when it comes to their computers, especially compared to their PC counterparts. Even special order Apple computers have only a handful of hardware options. However, there remains at the moment, at least two very different designs for laptops in Apple Stores, with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Those who are old enough to remember using primitive bulky computers, may welcome simplified choices. For the generations introduced to technology with their first iPhone or iPad, seeing only one style laptop in an Apple Store may be their iCloud dream.

It all comes down to consumers. If Apple quality and customer service remains high, it could be a move that causes the entire laptop industry to follow and never look back. If it is just a way to eliminate an additional production line, Apple could regret saying goodbye to their most popular style laptop, the MacBook Pro.