Apple is preparing the first significant overhaul of its MacBook Pro laptop line in over four years, according to sources, using one of its older products to help reverse two quarters of sliding sales.
The updated notebooks will be thinner, include a touch screen strip for function keys, and will be offered with more powerful and efficient graphics processors for expert users such as video gamers.
The new computers have been in advanced testing within Apple since earlier this year. The MacBook Pros aren’t likely to debut at an event currently scheduled for September 7 to introduce next-generation versions of the iPhone.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs heralded tablets as possible laptop replacements by calling the iPad a “post-PC” device after it launched in 2010, but products like the MacBook Pro have shown surprising resilience.
Sales of Macs, including the Pro line, rose 6% to $25.5bn (€23bn) in the last fiscal year, while iPad sales fell 23% to $23.2bn.
This year’s MacBook Pro overhaul is aimed at increasing notebook sales at a time when consumers are taking longer to buy or replace iPads.
Apple research suggests customers upgrade iPads roughly every three years, while they buy new iPhones every 18 to 24 months, which helps explain why iPad sales numbers have fallen.
The most significant addition to the new MacBook Pro is a secondary display above the keyboard that replaces the standard function key row.
Instead of physical keys, a strip-like screen will present functions on an as-needed basis that fit the current task or application.
The smaller display will use Organic Light-Emitting Diodes, a thinner screen technology, KGI Securities said earlier this year.
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