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?

  • Virus

    Might as well discontinue the Air as well seeing as the new Pro range is nearly as slim and light

    • Jonathan

      I’m assuming the next model will have retina.

  • Jeffrey

    its about time:/

  • Aseel Ahmed

    what about the new macbook air 2013. it is a non- retina model too?

    • Airs have always been non-Retina. The technology isn’t there yet for power-hungry Retina screens in such a thin notebook. You’d need a bigger battery and a powerful GPU to drive the Retina screen on the Air.

  • klouud

    I hope we see retina MBA’s and 4k pro’s in the next few years

  • JulianZH

    still have no cash for it….

    • Latinpride011

      I feel your pain. But I’m going to jump on the non retina pro when the price drops if they do discontinue it.

  • Jonathan

    Yeah. Not going to miss it.

  • At

    I really don’t think a optical drive is needed in any laptops anymore, anything you need these days can be downloaded and if up you really need one, grab a $20 external drive. What I think needs to happen is upping the entry level SSD space, especially considering you’re not able to upgrade yourself. Look at the new MAC pros, retina MacBooks, 256 gigs is not a lot. I can’t believe they are charging 4 grand for a entry level MAC pro with 256 gig SSD.

  • jacobkwright

    I know I’m probably in the minority, but I work in an industry that, believe it or not, still uses discs. I also still use an ethernet port and firewire. I know thin macs are nice, but this news just means more adapters. More 30 dollar adapters.

  • Tom

    Guys, do you think I should buy the retina Macbook now or wait for the newest version that will come out later?

    • A new one probably won’t come out until the fall. I just bought mine in February and have no regrets. There probably won’t be a sale either (like $100 iTunes credit for back-to-school) until July/August.

  • “Who needs MacBooks with an optical drive that adds weight, is bulky and noisy and consumes power?”

    I do. Because I throw the optical drive away and fit a HDD there. 500G is not nearly enough for anything I do, 2T is a bear minimum. External drive? Who need those that adds weight, is bulky and noisy and consumes power?

    • Stephane Clement

      Guys… Have you ever considered that with the standard MacBook Pro, configured with for example 16GB third party Ram and 1TB third party SSD you end up about 1000$ cheaper than with a Retina version!!! And you can kick out that Superdrive and install another SSD drive or other. With the Retina models all the upgrades are totally overpriced by Apple as they always do!

  • Jonathan

    Finally! The 1280 x 960 (13-inch) Is crap. Make my eyes go to sleep.

    • Shai Pal

      it’s 1440*900…

      • Jonathan

        The 13-inch is 1280 x 800. Wrong in my comment to 🙂

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    I don’t see this happen at all. None Retina MBP still very very popular and more important more upgradable than most Windows PC laptops.

    • “and more important more upgradable than most Windows PC laptops”

      Hahaha, awesome joke…

      • GuyBey0ndC00L

        I not saying it impossible but I find my MBP was easier to upgrade base on my past purchases of PC laptops.

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

    I got an external Blueray reader (with ability to read/burn CD/DVD) for $45. Using it with my Surface Pro to rip my remaining CDs/DVDs before I give them out to charity

  • Aaron

    I haven’t used the CD drive in a computer in years, but I still feel uncomfortable at the thought of not having one! It’s a chronic case of the “what if” 🙁

    • R4

      USBs could do anything CDs could do but faster