What happened to Apple’s flagship 17-inch MacBook Pro?

“Although Apple made no official announcement during the WWDC keynote yesterday, the absence of the 17-inch MacBook Pro from the online store can be taken as proof positive that the notebook has been dumped from the lineup,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports for ZDNet. “So, it’s certainly gone, but why?”

“Weak sales would be a good reason for a company like Apple to ditch a product, especially given how rapidly the company turns over its inventory every five days or so,” Kingsley-Hughes reports. “However, one thing that blows a hole in this weak sales theory is Apple’s continued commitment to the Mac Pro. While we’re not offered any figures by Apple, I’m certain that the company sold more 17-inch MacBook Pros over the last year than it has Mac Pro systems. I certainly come across more 17-inch MacBook Pro systems than I do Mac Pros. While I’m sure that while sales played a part in Apple’s decision to drop the larger of the MacBook Pro systems, I’m also certain that it wasn’t the only reason for their demise.”

Kingsley-Hughes reports, “So what other reason might Apple have had to dump the 17-inch MacBook Pro? To answer this, I think we need to look at the screen… When LCD panel makers get better at making ‘retina’ display screen, and 17-inch panels start rolling off the production lines at the right price point, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Apple starts to offer ‘retina’ display enabled 17-inch MacBook Pro systems once again.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is nothing new. In fact, it’s SOP: In 2006, Apple introduced its first ever MacBook Pro at the Macworld Expo in January and about three months after the 15-inch MacBook Pro made its debut, Apple introduced the first 17-inch MacBook Pro. In 2008, Apple announced next-generation 13-inch MacBooks and 15-inch MacBook Pros but was unable to immediately ramp production of the 17-inch model.

The 17-inch model is the flagship of Apple’s notebooks. In Apple’s likely way of thinking, it simply can’t have an inferior screen to the 15-inch model.

When the 17-inch Retina displays are ready, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the debut of the new 17-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Rave3000” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Apple’s next-gen 17-inch MacBook Pro due early next year – October 15, 2008

59 Comments

    1. Me too. MBP 17 may have been 2% of sales, but probably 50% of mac software was written on these. I wonder what happens when those developers move to another platform ?
      Additionally, Bootcamp users are in for a surprise: either you get the full (unreadable) 2880×1800 resolution (Win7), or you get awful (unreadable) pixelation and aliasing, of you get nothing (Win8). I’m seriously considering upgrading my 2010 MBP 17 inch to a 2011 MBP 17 (geekbench 5600 -> 10,700, which is only slightly less than the retina @ 12,000)

    1. The 17 was a nice, but grossly overpriced, laptop. It also was less than 2% of sales.

      Given that Apple doesn’t release detailed sales figures for competitive reasons, I’d love to know where you get the confidence to make that statement.

        1. I don’t know about that. People kept asking where the replacement for the 12″ PowerBook was. The answer was that the 13″ MacBooks were small and light enough that it didn’t make sense anymore. (And then years later the 11″ MacBook Air came out and changed everything again.)

          Most pro users didn’t really want a 17″ screen, they just wanted the extra pixels. The new retina display gives them more pixels, in a more compact form-factor. That sounds a lot like Apple.

          Maybe we’ll see a new 17″ retina. But maybe not. They don’t make anything like the Apple Extended Keyboard II anymore.

            1. The new MBP has 15.4″ screen with 16:10 aspect ratio.

              However, the new 17″ MPB will have the same height, but will be wider: 3200×1800, 16:9 ratio.

              So if you prefer 16:10 ratio, you better buy the current Retina MBP. No point to wait for 17″ since it will be just wider-screen version of the current one.

            2. A new 17″ MBP is vital for people who work with CAD files in the field and move from office to office and sales calls. Apple being the only one that sells Apple computers (obviously) should bite the bullet and offer a 17″ MBP even if it doesn’t sell as well as other products lines.

            3. The bigger the laptop screen, the better for my company.

              It makes it much easier to read plans on a larger 17″ screen.

              And show off portfolio pictures

              I hope they bring it back.

            4. “It makes it much easier to read plans on a larger 17″ screen.”

              I find the opposite.

              We have a ton of 27″ monitors at 1980×1080 px. These look terrible. The pixel density is so low it’s hard to read.

              We’ve also got 22″ displays at the same resolution, and they look really good.

              I think people just think a larger monitor looks better, when often it’s not.

          1. I feel totally different about it. I mostly don’t care less about the extra pixels, I just want the physical real estate. Pixels are something that artists might care about. People in non-artistic realms buy the 17″ for physical real estate. I hope MDN is right that a 17″ is coming, but somehow it seems different this time. they could have kept the old 17″ around like they did on previous occasions.

          1. Yeah, love the cartoon. I am sure that doesn’t apply B. Hussein, who has never actually had a real non-plublic sponsored job, and who feels the need to talk about how wealthy he is at every chance he gets.

      1. “The 17-inch MacBook Pro would be a logical choice for Apple to retire, as the premium professional notebook only accounted for 1.7 percent of the company’s notebook sales in the first quarter of 2012. The most popular option, Kuo said, was the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which took 46.9 percent of sales, followed by an 18.1 percent share for the 13-inch MacBook Air, and 16 percent for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.”
        http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/06/08/apple_still_expected_to_retire_17_inch_macbook_pro_in_2012.html
        http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/why-apple-dumped-the-17-inch-macbook-pro/20761

        1. That’s fine if you assume a direct extrapolation across all of Apple’s distribution channels.

          Kuo will have based his numbers on the intelligence he was able to derive from a narrow band of retailers that are willing to share their sales data.

          But so much of Apple’s business is done direct from Apple, especially at the high-end, that the likelihood is that his intelligence is distorted towards low-end laptops that dominate education and low-end consumer sales from more generic channels.

          The greater likelihood is that the 17″ must – ipso facto – be better than the 15″, but it can’t be until yields of a 17″ high-density panel are reliable and therefore commercially viable; if you built a super-laptop capable of delivering 4K on it’s own screen and 2560 x 1440 on an external display, Apple Stores in New York, LA and London would have to employ crowd control to beat off video post-production types invading the stores as if it were an episode of The Walking Dead.

  1. ” I certainly come across more 17-inch MacBook Pro systems than I do Mac Pros.”

    And exactly HOW would he “come across” a Mac Pro? MacBooks are portable, Mac Pros, not so much. Of COURSE one is going to see MANY more MacBook Anythings than Mac Pros which, by their very nature, don’t get out much. Silly thing to say, if you ask me…

    1. I would have thought Apple was going to drop the MacBook Pro lineup: I see many many Mac Pros in the video production shops I visit, but very few MacBook Pros.

      1. Apple now has a long product line for laptops;
        2 MacBook Air and 3 Macbook Pro and in a myriad of configurations.

        The day will come that only retina displays are sold in the line up. And my guess that day will come and leave a line up of just 2 machines to pick from.

        15″ Air Book or 17″ Air Book.

        With the best processors available so
        no division will be stated or required to deem as Pro.
        Just expect the best from Apple.

        Once that is achieved, expect, a further simplification
        of the entire product line.

        2 laptop choices. (AirBook and AirBook next gen)
        2 cellphone choices. (iPhone and iPhone next gen)
        2 tablet choices. (iPad and iPad next gen)
        2 desktop choices. (iMac and iMac next gen)

    2. Oh I don’t know. Every time I walk into a Starbucks I see Mac Pros on people’s tables. Doing a little modelling in Maya… mix a cool new record… you know, the uge’.

      With Bluetooth peripherals now it’s so much easier to get out and about with those 50lb monsters : )

      1. 😀 they also make great hiking companions. I mean, it’s really easy to sling the thing over your shoulder and tie it to your back! Those handles on the case are quite handy.

  2. I suspect large size Retina display availability may be a factor in the minimal MacPro update too. A Fall introduction of new iMacs with large Retina displays will tell us a lot about how manufacturers are progressing in building such displays.

      1. I have not watched yesterday’s WWDC keynote so I thought maybe something was mentioned there about whether Apple is also coming up with a 13 inch MBP with retina display. That’s why I posted here to if anyone heard or read anything. But, they hanks for the attitude.

  3. Probably had more to do with the technology behind the retina display. They would have had to produce an even larger retina display or keep the old version like they did with the smaller models. The smaller models will probably be fazed out one by one too as retina becomes standard. By next year retinal will probably become the standard even for the air models. It came to iPad this year already.

  4. “I certainly come across more 17-inch MacBook Pro systems than I do Mac Pros.”

    Well, duh! Mac Pros rarely leave the home or office, so you won’t see them as often. This is like the observation that you see more cars driving the other way on the highway than going your way.

  5. For me, I only ever wanted a 17 for the higher resolution and the expresscard slot. The retina display gives me the real estate I need and the two thunderbolt ports look to give me faster expandability than the express card slot. I just hope the cost of TB peripherals keeps coming down. The $29 FireWire and Ethernet adapters are a welcome big step in that direction. The new 15 seems to give me the power of the old 17 with the portability closer to an air. Pending my actual use of a new MBP, I think it probably strikes a great balance.

  6. Apple always thinks for the best of the user.

    if user experience was technologically & financially ill-suited to launch the 17″ Mac Book Pro, it does not bother, as unlike all competitors, it never launches crapware. if it’s not ideal or perfect on all levels, forget it, get it from non-Apple manufacturers.
    in that sense, it was expected, not to have a 17″.

    but the public can’t know what manufacturing is capable of.
    we couldn’t tell that 17″ retina screens are not possible or viable or affordable or stable etc. so we got disappointed, naturally.

    the shame is that we feel abused by Apple’s lack of Pro-focus.
    no MacBook Pro 17″ sits on top of our long disappointment of no Mac Pro.
    wonder what the insults will be on the FB Mac Pro page now…http://www.facebook.com/MacProsPlease

    let’s cross our finger, that MacBook Pro 17″ follows faster than in previous years and that despite a new Mac Pro, a real new Mac Pro follows this year, since Tim Cook did admit 2012 was going to astound us all…

  7. The 17-inch MacBook Pro is the flagship of the laptop line? Who put the flag on the ship? Not Apple. It looks to me that everything really revolves around the 15-inch MacBook Pro. If it were up to me, I’d put the flag on that ship.

      1. Not being sarcastic, but I really do not see the necessity of a 17″ laptop. If you need a big screen you can always plug into an external monitor. As for presentations, a jump drive or SD card will show on a Windows PC. If they have a Mac you can push it from any iOS device.

        1. I don’t want to plug it into an external monitor. For one thing a monitor isn’t portable. For another thing I have no need or desire to clog up my desks with a monitor. The 17″ was just big enough that it could substitute for an external monitor without feeling too cramped. Historically I used to use 21″ monitors in the old days, and the hi-res 17″ screen was close enough for me. 15″ just doesn’t cut it as a desktop replacement.

  8. When they can deliver a large format >285ppi retina display, it will be worth relaunching a new 17″ MBP that delivers 4K resolution in a 16:10 aspect ratio.

    285 ppi is achievable. We know that from the iPhone and the fact that the iPad is 264ppi right now; but maybe it’s a generation (9-12 months away) in terms of yield to make the displays affordable.

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