As you might have heard, Apple doesn’t reveal much about future plans 🙂
So, of course, it’s speculation but it will be back at some point when Apple needs a sales boost to the laptop line.
First, they are selling both lines like crazy. The high margin MacBook Pro orders are back-ordered as the new boost in speed and LED screens are a big hit. The even higher margin 17″ hasn’t even switched to the LED screen just yet. The MacBook line is also high rated and selling very well. Apple doesn’t really need the 12″ just yet because a 12″ is really a specialty size and a version that is really more like a 2nd laptop or in auto terms, like a convertible. If the coupe and the sedan are selling well, you can pretty much introduce the convertible at any time and it will sell.
And right now with both lines cranking away, there’s no real point in taking away sales from either line by introducing a 3rd MacBook Pro which would cost money to manufacturer, stock, ship and market (Apple is apparently also selling something called the iPhone).
Because it would have to be priced (as it was as a PB 12″) somewhere between the MacBook and the MB Pro, it would cause some lost 15″ MB Pro sales. Right now, you have to decide – smaller screen & lower price OR much faster processor, faster bus and better screen for $500 extra (the priciest MB versus the lowest priced MB Pro) – many people will just say, okay, for $500, I’ll upgrade to the Pro … but if you had a 12″ version for $200 more than a MB, many people might decide they’d be willing to lose 1.3″ on the screen but get a faster laptop + LED screen (of course, hypothetical) but enough to lose some sales at the higher MB Pro 15″ end and at this point in production, why spend money on another screen size when all it will do is most likely cannibalize sales from the Pro line?
It’s simply better to wait until demand for the 15″ and 17″ stabilize – after selling to most of the base, then add an enticing 12″ version as a second “travel” laptop.
Of course, they might choose to go in an entirely different direction – maybe an iPhone styled portable laptop. What is the right compromise on a screen size? Really, anything larger than a 5″ screen would be too large to use or carry around as a phone – maybe 6″ screen max? Would it have a real keyboard with a flip up screen? HHD or the new mega Flash drives? Would you pay $899 or $999 for that … that would probably be different enough not to really cut into MacBook or MB Pro sales … that would be closer to a 2nd laptop people can use on a plane and then transfer or email over? Buh-bye Win Mobile and RIM?