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MacBook Pro 13-inch leads Apple store sales: 17-inch MBP to be discontinued in 2012

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has earned its place as an Apple store bestseller. But with trends rapidly moving toward thinner, lighter, and faster laptops, the 17-inch MacBook Pro will likely be leaving the MacBook lineup by the end of 2012.

Weak sales and a steep price tag of $2499 for the 17-inch MacBook Pro, have also been cited as a contributing factor in reports that 2012 will the last year for the 17-inch video editing powerhouse.

“While adding new products, Apple is likely to stop making the 17” MacBook Pro this year due to falling shipments, in order to maintain a lean product line strategy,” according to MacRumors.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch has been Apple’s bestselling laptop size, but there are supply chain reports that suggests there will are high expectations for a redesigned 15-inch model with the introduction of the new Ivy Bridge processors, expected to hit Apple stores in the second half of 2012.

“There are certainly good reasons to think the 17-inch MacBook Pro would be the first product to go in a line pruning. It's not the most popular model, reportedly selling only 50,000 units in the first quarter of 2012,” according to cnet. “Apple has little sentimentality for its laptops, quietly killing the original MacBook brand last year, leaving only the Pro and Air.”

Both the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models are said to be shedding their optical drives and will feature faster solid state hard drives, improved Intel 4000 graphics, and a possible upgrade to include a higher resolution Retina Display. The changes could give the MacBook Pro line and edge with competing 2012 PC Ultrabooks, which are expected to be released with lower price points than the new Apple MacBook Pro laptops.

“The availability of Apple's new MacBook Pro might come at the same time non-Apple brands launch their new Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks,” according to Digitimes.

Apart from a handful of PC gaming laptop manufacturers who may continue to produce 17-inch machines, large, bulky portables are becoming obsolete. Ivy Bridge technology and more powerful graphics are making it possible to combine high end computing into slimmer, more portable designs.

The redesigned 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro’s with Ivy Bridge processors are said to be capable of handing the demands of gamers as they never have in the past. Of course that does not solve issues with compatibility, but Boot Camp does, allowing a full installation of Windows 7 to run alongside OSX with a partitioned hard drive.

There is also some speculation that Apple fears competition from Windows 8, which is scheduled to be released toward the end of this year. The touch screen platform is said to integrate Apps with a smoother, easier to navigate used interface than OSX.

Redesigns of the MacBook Pro are physical changes, but do not represent anything new as far as next generation innovation, like the iPad brought to tablets. Still, it seems unlikely that Steve Jobs left Apple with no vision for taking computing to the next level. Just like OSX itself, Apple keeps much of its plans secret, until it fuels its own rumor mill, then hits the market with another product that forces PC makers to play catch-up.

Related:

2012 Macbook Pro redesign on its way to Apple stores