A Super Thin 15-inch MacBook Pro Means Apple’s Going Cloud or Bust

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A bit of Apple news for you this morning: MacRumors is reporting that Apple is late-stage testing a new 15-inch, ultra-thin laptop with features similar to the MacBook Air; TUAW is betting that it’s going to be a sveltely redesigned MacBook Pro.

Currently, MacBook Airs are available in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch sizes with a starting price point of $999. The new 15-inch laptop is assumed to be ditching optical drives (like CDs) and traditional hard drives in favor of integrated solid-state drives (SSDs), which have allowed the Airs to achieve their brand of tapered thinness and portability.

(MORE: A Brief History of the Computer)

It’s no secret that as technology becomes more powerful, it inevitably shrinks to become more compact. Recently I dug out my old third-generation iPod, which held a tiny 10GB worth of data and an unfamiliar amount of heft. It was basically a brick.

Apple’s laptop lines will be treated no different: The Air’s design features have long been expected to translate over to Apple’s Pro line, which is currently marketed as the company’s portable workstation.

But in shedding the optical drive from all their laptop lines, it essentially means Apple’s going all in on the cloud. MacRumors stated, “Apple has had no problem leaving physical media behind,” and they’re right. It makes sense: When Apple announced their coming iCloud just last month (doesn’t it feel like an eternity ago?), they outlined the strategy behind all upcoming hardware from the iPod on up.

Harry McCracken’s posited that the cloud may just replace all physical storage in the near future, which, if it isn’t indicated in the maybe-release of this 15-incher this holiday season, will come soon enough. The cloud’s already setting cornerstones for hardware design—such as Google’s Chromebooks—but will consumers be comfortable moving their data to the cloud? Apple and Google certainly think so. So do other parties like Intel with their optical drive-less Ultrabooks.

Apple and other companies are hedging their bets on the cloud, and if this 15-incher comes out as speculated, it’ll be combining form (the Air body) and function (Pro-level specs), which typically translates into dollar signs.

(MORE: Apple Files Patent For Super Sexy Keyless Keyboard)

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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