Slimmer 13" Retina MacBook Pro, Dual Mic MacBook Air Expected at WWDC
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has proven to have relatively reliable information over the past several years, released a new research note last week highlighting his expectations for changes to Apple's notebook lineup at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). With Intel preparing to launch its latest Haswell processors this week, Apple will be able to make significant upgrades to at least part of its notebook lineup, but additional changes appear to be in store as well.
Among the most interesting predictions from Kuo is word that the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will see a slightly slimmer design, as well as an improved camera. Kuo had indicated as long ago as January that Apple would be tweaking the design of the Retina MacBook Pro this year, despite having just introduced the form factor last year.
We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.
Kuo also now believes that Apple will not be upgrading the non-Retina MacBook Pro, instead simply continuing to sell the current Ivy Bridge-based models as it seeks to phase out the non-Retina line. Kuo had originally believed that Apple would discontinue the non-Retina line at this year's WWDC, but adjusted his predictions earlier this year based on the belief that continued strong sales of the machines would drive Apple to continue selling them.
On the MacBook Air, Kuo believes that the line will see a shift to dual built-in microphones, as was introduced on the Retina MacBook Pro last year.
We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.
Overall, Kuo expects that improvements to the Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, along with stagnation of the non-Retina MacBook Pro line, will continue Apple's shift toward solid-state storage in its notebooks. Kuo's predictions see Apple putting solid-state storage in 64% of its notebook shipments this year, up from 45% last year when the company began transitioning the MacBook Pro line.
Despite Apple's updates, Kuo believes that the company will see a 10-20% decline in notebook shipments for 2013, with a slow overall PC market and cannibalization by the iPad contributing to lower sales. The company's predicted strategic move to lower the appeal of the non-Retina MacBook Pro would likely also contribute to declining sales unless pricing on Retina models can be lowered.