Apple (AAPL) boss Steve Jobs trotted out his company’s new iPod lineup and an update to its iTunes software this week. Missing from his presentation: Any word on new Mac laptops, which some observers and investors had been expecting.
Why now? Apple’s notebook line is getting old: According to MacRumors’ excellent Mac buyer’s guide, it’s been 198 days since Apple updated the MacBook or the MacBook Pro, which, on average, get updates every 192-194 days. So both series are due for an upgrade, likely including new Intel chips, and potentially new, metal cases for MacBooks, which are currently plastic. It’s also possible Apple will slice a few hundred dollars off some of its laptops to boost sales.
When will this happen? Street analysts now expect Apple to announce new MacBooks in October or November. Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber — who’s as connected to the Apple backchannel as anyone — says Oct. 14 is the date, specifically. Sounds plausible to us.
Why is this important? Because Apple’s Mac business has recently been driving the bulk of Apple’s growth, now that iPod growth has slowed significantly, and as iPhone growth ramps up. We now know that new Macs probably won’t play a role in Apple’s September quarter. But any boost Apple can get from new Macs in the December quarter will be very helpful.
In the meantime, we’ve recently been asked by several people if they should bother waiting for the new MacBooks, or take the plunge now. With upgrades imminent — possibly a month away — we’d wait if it were our money. But we don’t expect the updates to be revolutionary: definitely faster, potentially sleeker, maybe cheaper, possibly a few new toys — but still a laptop. Sort of like the difference between the old iPod nano and the new iPod nano — looks better, a bit more capacity, but nothing major. So if you need a new computer today, go for it.
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