Thursday, January 20, 2011

15" or 17" Macbook Pro With MacBook Air Features - Like Removing Optical Drive?

We all knew when Steve Jobs introduced the re-engineered Macbook Air, the current edition last winter, much of the features it gained were from the iPad.  And Steve said much of the what MBA inherited will be passed a long to the other Macbook line-up.

Naturally, many think Steve is talking about the SDD or the month-long sleep period.  Or perhaps, and this is something that has not be brought up for a while, it is that the other Macbooks and MBP will lose the optical drive.  

The question is would users want that?  And is the market ready for such an eventuality?  

Let's examine this for a bit and see where it can possibly go.

By removing the optical drive, Apple opens quite a bit of engineering possibilities.  First, it is possible for Apple to slim things down quite a bit.  As in nearly MBA thin.  It's doubtful we'll see them as thin as the MBA because of chip and heat issues.  The MB may go that route because there are no dedicated GPU inside of them.

On the other hand, the MBP line have dedicated GPU that can contribute quite a bit of heat.  Obviously, we are assuming that Apple has not already found a way to dissipate the heat from the CPU and GPU.  But we have seen Apple do the impossible and leap ahead of its competitors.  

For now, I think Apple, by removing the optical drive, can slim down the MB or the MBP quite a bit more but not MBA thin. 

Second possibility of is that Apple keeps the same form factor of the current MB and MBA even after removing the optical drive.  What can Apple do with all that space?

I've got some ideas and they might be wild:

  1. Add more battery.  Right now, the Macbook and Macbook Pro are rated 10 hours and 9 hours of use respectively.  I love to see that space used to pack more battery and increase use by 30-50% more. That'll be good fro a flight from SF to Tokyo.
  2. Room for more SSD.  You can never have enough space.  So why not allow additional SSD to be inserted in place of the optical drive?  
  3. Room for a second CPU.  This is one of the more crazy idea.  But if Apple is about mobile, I would love to see this happen and I think it can especially on the 17" MBP.  This would be a designer's dream machine.  And I can use the power for my Final Cut projects.  
  4. This is the craziest idea of all.  Add an iOS device in there.  Allow users to have the dual use of the great screen.  Consider this a 13", 15", or 17" iPad.  The trackpad is fully capable of functioning and substituting as the screen's touch functions.  The electronics that house and power the magic of the iOS devices is so miniaturized that, while I admit this is a crazy idea, can fit into the space where the current DVD drive sits.
A bit more about point number 4, fitting an iOS device into the Macbooks.  Think of this as selling two machines in one.  Furthermore, this Apple can increase profit margins because it doesn't have to fully build out the iOS device like it would have to otherwise - battery, memory, and LCD screen.  

I'm all for getting rid of the DVD drive.  I haven't used it for a while and I've got plenty of options when it comes to viewing my DVD collection at home.  And much of them have already been converted into digital copies so I can already take them on my Macbook or iPad.  

I hope this is what Tim Cook said on Tuesday's earnings call when he reiterated that the Macbook Air was the future.  I like SSD and long sleep but I also like removing the optical drive to make better 21st Century use of that space.

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