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There are rumors -- and I don't doubt them -- that the 17-inch MacBook Pro is nearing its end. According to the predominant speculation, Apple will basically turn its entire laptop line into MacBook Airs with 11-inch, 13-inch and 15-inch models differentiated by different specs, but all lacking an optical drive.
I do believe that's where Apple is heading. Like the Mac Pro, the 17-inch MacBook Pro has a limited market. But it's a powerful, creative market with specific needs Apple has met for years. In writing for "Redmond Pie" (http://macte.ch/V67VQ), Paul Paliath offers these reasons for not killing the biggest Apple laptop:
° Despite Apple's obvious desire to get away from all physical media such as CDs and DVDs, many people, especially creative professionals, need to be able to tackle CD and DVD burning on their Mac.
° People in professions that require performance laptops and that type of screen estate while on the go -- such as graphics designers, video production folks, artists and more -- need a big, beefy laptop with decent storage options and lots of speed.
° Many content creators do turn to Apple for their computing needs -- and they shouldn't be "exiled" by the company.
The other line of reasoning is that the 17-inch MacBook Pro is a niche product with low sales and can be replaced by a 15-inch MB Pro coupled with a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display for the times when more screen real estate is needed.
I have no need for a 17-inch MacBook Pro, just as I have no need for a Mac Pro. However, I realize that many creative pros do. The pro market stood by Apple over the years, including the hard times, and I'd hate to see them shunted to the side in favor of nothing but consumer-oriented products.
There's no reason a company with the resources and money of Apple can't serve both markets well.
-- Dennis Sellers