Don’t Look for New MacBook Pros Until April?

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Apple's 2011 MacBook Pros.

I would love nothing more than for Apple’s new ostensibly overhauled MacBook Pros to get here in April, but even that’s a best-case scenario, according to DigiTimes’ latest supply chain whisperers.

It’ll be “April, at the soonest,” before we see new lighter, thinner MacBook Pros, reports the Asian news-watcher, which often runs “supply chain”-sourced stories prompting media pile-ons when the topics involve Apple (and in particular hot-ticket items like the iPad). In my experience, these stories get things wrong as often as right.

(MORE: Apple’s Hush-Hush MacBook Pro Refresh)

If I had to bet, I’d wager we won’t see updates to the Pro family until much later still. Apple did, after all, just update the MacBook Pro in October,  tweaking the processor, video card and storage options across its 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch models.

I’m not sure how DigiTimes’ “upstream supply chain” sources see these new Pros as creating “a significant threat against notebook players’ ultrabooks,” however. The Ultrabook belongs to a size, weight and feature class that’s challenged by Apple’s MacBook Air, not the Pro (or not as much, anyway). That, and unless Apple plans to drop the Pro family’s traditionally higher-end median price point (or, as I’ve speculated they might, simply merge the Air and Pro families), I think it’s safer to say the Ultrabook’s key challenger will remain Apple’s Air lineup. After all, the current Air models compare favorably to the Pro family, specification-wise, with only marginally slower processors (and no dedicated graphics processor, granted, but that’s the case with most Ultrabooks, too). That, and the Air starts at just $999. And if Apple releases an ultra-thin Pro in the sub-$1,000 range, which it surely could, then my prediction about the Air and Pro families merging — whether officially or in all but name — has come true. Who knows, maybe Apple wants to drive the next batch of Airs down into the almost-impulse $500 range.

As I wrote in October 2011, the Pro’s February 2011 update was a bigger deal than the October bump, as Apple shifted from Intel’s much older Core 2 Duo family to the newer i-series, tacking on Thunderbolt ports. Another eight months out from October puts us in June (which is also when Intel’s slightly delayed Ivy Bridge processors are expected to ship in volume). If there’s anything to the notion that companies like to wait at least as long as the prior cycle, that makes this summer the safer bet.

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