Apple store holiday 2012 banner (MacBook Pro)

After reportedly making the decision to axe the iPad 2 “in the near future”, now comes word that Apple’s non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro model is next on the chopping block. If true, this would streamline the company’s notebook offering after the non-Retina production winds down in the second half of 2014, in time for a refresh around Intel’s forthcoming Broadwell processors.

The move would reduce the Mac notebook lineup to non-Retina MacBook Airs (which may or may not get a Retina treatment later this year) and all-Retina MacBook Pros, potentially leaving future MacBook Pro buyers without a built-in CD/DVD optical drive…

The rumor was published Wednesday by the hit-and-miss DigiTimes.

Apple is expected to stop production of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014 and will replace the product line with thinner models equipped with a Retina display.

The sources pointed out that Apple has been reducing its MacBook Pro prices, narrowing the price gap between the MacBook Pro and the one equipped with Retina.

While we’d normally caution you to take anything from DigiTimes with a few pinches of salt, Apple has an established history of phasing out legacy technologies.

I, for one, believe the rumor is true.

After the iPad 2 gets phased out, there won’t be a non-Retina iOS device in the lineup and we definitely see this trend carrying over to Mac notebooks. And in a world of ultra-thin notebooks, who needs MacBooks with an optical drive that adds weight, is bulky and noisy and consumes power?

The writing has been on the wall ever since Apple last year dropped the 15-inch non-Retina model from the lineup. Basides, the $100 price difference between the $1,1999 classic (non-Retina) 13-inch model and the $1,299 entry-level MacBook Pro with Retina display is negligible.

Late-2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display (two up 001)
The 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display.

Why buy a non-Retina model if a $100 more gets you the stunning Retina screen?

On the downside, removing the non-Retina model from the lineup would impact customers who have been choosing the machine for its expandability and repairability.

The classic model has Ethernet and FireWire 800 ports, neither of which is found on other models, although Apple’s Retina notebooks make up for this by providing two Thunderbolt 2 ports, as opposed to the single first-generation Thunderbolt I/O on the classic model. More importantly, the classic model allows for user-replacable memory and storage drive aftermarket upgrades.

As for the built-in CD/DVD drive, remember that Apple has a history of dropping less efficient technology. The company phased out floppy disk drives and CRTs much to the dismay of the industry and its original iMac was first to adopt the then new USB standard.

Phil Schiller (iPad mini event, iMac optical drive)

And finally, in announcing its 2012 thinner iMacs Apple removed the built-in optical drive from the popular all-in-one desktop.

“We removed the optical drive and completely re-engineered all of the internal components to make something amazingly thin,” Apple’s marketing boss said at the unveiling, noting customers “who’re still stuck in the past” can always buy Apple’s slim SuperDrive, or any USB-based external optical drive for that matter.

I have zero problem with Apple phasing out optical drives.

And you?

Who’s going to miss the optical drive on the classic MacBook Pro?