Apple’s MacBook Line-Up And Where We Go from Here

Over the last two years, we have seen some great updates to the venerable MacBook Pro line-up. Notably with the introduction of a all-glass trackpad in the 2008 redesign. Since then, we have seen 4 finger swipe gestures added and now “inertial scrolling” in the latest 2010 models.

So where do we go from here? We now have iOS like gestures added to the trackpad in MacBook Pro, but what next? I would say since Apple now has a ton of experience building capacitive based devices (both the iPhone and now larger display iPad), that we could see a MacBook Pro with capacitive display in the future.

Speaking of capacitive displays, I’m curious as to how long it will be before the actual physical keyboard in MacBooks get replaced with a glass based capacitive version? Many cling to physical keyboards still, but since iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches are so ubiquitous now, it’s one more thing that should eventually happen. I don’t think it’s disingenuous to say that we will continue to see far more iOS device features trickle down into many parts of Apple’s product line-up. I’m sure many couldn’t even conceive the notion 2-3 years ago that we would see capacitive based mice from this company, let alone something even like the newly released Magic Trackpad, where it’s currently being marked as an addition to your current mouse. Where will Apple take this though? Will we see the eventual decline of mice with Magic Trackpads? I’m sure there will be a niche for a considerable time going forward for physical mice, however, it stands to reason that Apple is already thinking, “how can we replace mice?” This is just the kind of company Apple is. They think big and tend to execute huge ideas. Many times they get a lot of flack for things, however, eventually we see massive adoption and then everything seems totally normal. We may even wonder on a daily basis in the future, “how the hell did I do anything with a physical keyboard and mouse before? That was so archaic!

Segway to another important, but related topic. There has been a lot of buzz recently that Apple “doesn’t seem to care” about OSX as a desktop OS anymore, but I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth. What if Apple replaced Front Row with a layer of iOS in OSX? Think about this for a moment.

We could easily see Apple build 13”, 15”, and 17” capacitive displays for MacBook Pros in the near future. How fantastic would it be as an intermediary step towards a completely desktop based iOS? You could use an “old school” mouse and keyboard to get serious work done in OSX, but then switch to an iOS layer for media consumption like renting or watching movies (as you would normally with Front Row now). While in the iOS layer of OSX, you would simply touch the MacBook display and use all of the natural gestures you are so use to on your iOS devices. Now that would be really something.

Is it realistic to think this will happen? Absolutely. I think it’s just a matter of time. Maybe this won’t happen in the next year or two, but 3-5 years out? Why not?

WWDC in 2011 should be an interesting time to see what Apple has been cooking up for OSX 10.7. I’m super excited about where we’re headed.