Pixel Perfect

John Gruber, from the footnotes:

I gave up using a 15-inch MacBook Pro several years ago. Instead, I use one machine at my desk, connected to a standalone display, and I use an 11-inch MacBook Air when I’m away from my desk. When I’m at my desk I want a big standalone display; when I’m away from the desk I want the smallest, lightest MacBook possible. The 15-inch retina MacBook Pro doesn’t fit this model. It’s way heavier and clumsier than the Air when used as a portable (especially on airplanes, a frequent mobile use case for me), and it would be criminal to put this machine on my desk only to hook it up to a fat-pixeled non-retina Cinema Display. There is simply no doubt in my mind that this is the best computer Apple has ever made, by a long shot, but I don’t think I’m going to buy one for myself. A 13-inch MacBook Pro With Retina Display, though, might be a good tradeoff as a replacement for my current (two-year-old) Air. I just can’t see ever again buying a new non-retina Mac of any sort, the extra weight of a 13-inch MacBook Pro compared to the Air be damned.

This mental differentiation between professional and consumer, is it real? Does a 13-inch MacBook Pro meet the needs of professionals while the 13-inch MacBook Air does not and more meets the needs of consumers? I have serious doubts.

From the very first iPad, why has there been just one singular model of the iPad? Why not a Pro version? Let me answer that: Because the need of the professional and the consumer when it comes to the iPad is the same. If they are different peripherals can make up the difference. I think this is the case for MacBooks.

This artificial distinction between professional and consumer for the MacBook line should be disolved. The MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air should simply be the MacBook. The MacBook should have a retina display, should be as thin as possible, should represent the best Apple can make. There should be three models: 11-inch, 13-inch, and 15-inch. And that’s it.

There are significant benefits to unifying the notebook line into a singular MacBook line, without the Air or Pro suffixes. The biggest benefit to the folks who need to make a notebook choice is simplicity: three choices, based on display size, and to some extent price. For Apple the operational simplicity and the financial benefits gained from a simpler model lineup is significant. Profit margins on the US$499 retina iPad is unmatched in the industry, precisely because Apple buys millions of the same component. Imagine a similar situation for the MacBooks: the best, for less.