Apple MacBook Pro Refresh Won't Be Radical: Analyst

Apple's next MacBook Pros won't represent a major redesign, according to a Piper Jaffray analyst. Rumors are circulating furiously that Apple plans to update the laptops this week.

Apple's refreshed MacBook Pros won't represent a major redesign or feature upgrade, predicts one analyst firm. That report comes as rumors of the new MacBook Pro's release reach a crescendo.

"We expect refreshed models with faster processors; however, we do not expect a dramatic redesign," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a co-authored Feb. 22 report. "Historically, refreshed models drive a smaller upgrade cycle than redesigned models."

On Feb. 20, the blog Apple Insider reported some Apple retailers receiving a warning from the company not to open sealed pallet shipments due to arrive sometime this week. Paraphrasing an unnamed person "familiar with the matter," the blog added that Apple "is vocalizing its right to yank reseller licenses from any dealer who tampers with the sealed shipments."

The posting added to rampant speculation that a MacBook Pro refresh is indeed imminent. Engadget also reported Feb. 20 that Best Buy had listed five new SKU tags for Apple laptops in its database, with availability "Coming Soon."

According to rumors, the next MacBook Pro could include Light Peak, a high-speed optical cable technology developed by Intel that allows for the connection of multiple devices, including peripherals such as displays and disk drives, at high-bandwidth speeds starting at 10GB per second. Light Peak can support multiple protocols over a single ultra-thin and flexible cable, eliminating the need for different types of cables to plug into specific devices.

If the refreshed MacBook Pro line arrives this week, it will join the slim MacBook Air as the vanguards of Apple's latest device refresh-and perhaps compete with the latter for customer dollars. "Apple has started to point customers toward the MacBook Air in its retail stores," Munster added. "The MacBook Air now occupies the most prime store real estate (front left table), which suggests sales are strong."

Rumors are also swirling around other refreshes to the Apple product family, most notably the iPhone and the iPad. Sources speaking to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal last week offered conflicting accounts of whether the next iPhone would be smaller in size, or roughly the same dimensions but cheaper in price. As with its laptops, until Apple hosts an unveiling event or posts new products on its Website, the conjecture will only continue to bubble over.