16-inch MacBook Pro could be 3K... for $3K

Noted supply chain exfiltrator Kuo Ming-Chi also allowed himself to correct him… langue is hard… about the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro with the next-generation scissor-not-butterfly keyboard this week as well.

Previously, Kuo said the new keyboard would be coming to the MacBook Air this year and an updated MacBook Pro next year, which made the kind of sense that didn't. Via MacRumors:

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will do away with its controversial butterfly mechanism keyboard in future MacBooks, beginning with a refreshed MacBook Air later this year.We believe the partially refreshed MacBook Pro models will also adopt a new scissor keyboard in 2020

As everyone knows by now, just a very short time later Apple updated the MacBook Air with True Tone and the new dome material but left it otherwise almost exactly the same as when it debuted in October of 2018, including the butterfly switches.

And, with the new new MacBook Pro rumored to be ready this fall, that's just always seemed like the best place to debut the new scissor switches, with a MacBook Air update to follow along, maybe as soon as next year.

That's what most every other rumor has been saying for a while and it's what Kuo is saying now as well. Via MacRumors:

We have revised our prediction that the keyboard of the 16-inch MacBook Pro that will launch in 4Q19 will feature the scissor mechanism instead of the butterfly mechanism. The refresh versions of other MacBook models in 2020 will change to adopt the scissor mechanism keyboard, too.

Randomly accurate supply chain rumor site Digitimes has also chimed in, re-iterating what I think most people are expecting from the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Namely that, like the iPhone X did with the iPhone 7, it'll stay roughly the same size as the current 15-inch but delete all the bezel it has to cram in a 16-inch, 3072×1920 screen LCD display.

There's also been a bunch of internet angst — and hot takes, so many hot takes — over an Economic Daily Report suggesting the 16-inch MacBook Pro could cost upwards of $3000.

That's harder to parse right now. We've sometimes seen big dollars attached to new Apple products only to have them announced lower and seem like a deal. Remember the original iPad was rumored to cost $1000 but then artfully debuted at just $500.

Given we don't know what the processors or GPU options will be yet, or what other technology will be included — and Intel has Xeon processors going into the new Mac Pro that cost 7 to 10 grand just for the chip — it's like throwing Batarangs around in the dark right now.

Personally, I expect the 16-inch price to be higher than the current 15-inch for a few reasons.

  1. Pretty much every vendor charges more for larger display sizes.
  2. When Apple declared war on the iPhone and iPad bezels, they also introduced Face ID and other technologies that pushed up the component cost.
  3. Apple typically prices higher on new designs to make back the R&D cost off early adopters, then lowers prices over subsequent generations. We've seen this play out not just over and over again, but pretty much every time.

I haven't done the math this year yet, but as of last year, Apple's margins had been trending down from just after the Steve Jobs years. So, while yeah, prices are up, costs are up slightly more, and Apple is eating some of those. Though, arguably for many, they could eat more.

It's a problem that needs solving and one Apple's coming under increasing pressure to address, especially internationally.

I know some people who love Apple products, especially new designs, hate seeing the prices continue to creep up because in a very real, very frustrating way it effectively prices them out of the products they love.

And Apple doesn't always, or ever really, address the value prop in terms of how long products last or resale value.

Beyond that, though, I very much hope Apple also pushes the current iPad strategy to every other product category.

Keep making ever newer, ever better, even more pricy versions if you really have to at the top, but offer a killer version at the very bottom as well.

That $329 iPad, frequently on sale for less, really is one of the best deals in tech right now and I'd love to see an iPhone SE 2 and sub-$1000 MacBook Air that are just as great a deals as well.

What do you think?

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.