Yesterday was the start of WWDC (Worldwide Developer's Conference) in California for Apple. As they do every year, the conference was kicked off with a keynote from Apple. Yesterday's keynote was important, because it was the first without Steve Jobs. I personally, think they did quite well, and anyone worried about Apple post-Steve shouldn't be.
In the keynote, a number of really cool things were talked about. From the software side, iOS 6 and Mountain Lion. Both look like great updates, each deserving of their own post. Then there were the updates to the Macbook Air line and the existing Macbook Pro line. Both were excellent. I think the most notable thing from the keynote is definitively the next generation Macbook Pro.
The next-gen Macbook Pro fits most of the rumors that were flying around pre-keynote. The Retina display, USB 3.0, thinner, SSD. All of these things are truly an insight into what Apple sees as the future of mobile computing. They even said so themselves. What interests me, is if you look at the whole, you can start to extrapolate where they might be heading.
For instance, I'm sure the retina display looks fantastic. Everyone that has written about it has said so. I tried to look at one today, but the Apple store I went to said they wouldn't have it until tomorrow. The big question in my mind is, why didn't one of the desktops get the retina display first? I would think it would be easier to get a retina display in an iMac, or at least justify the cost. Yes, the screen is larger, but there is more space to work with, so you don't have to completely reengineer the display casing. I think Apple has been focused more on their laptop lines than their desktop lines for some time now. I'm sure their sales data backs up that focus as well.
Going further, if you look at the ports available, you can see the same thought process. Two thunderbolt ports mean a big step up, when you can daisy-chain them. The goal here being that if you want to have a desktop, why not buy a thunderbolt display? That will provide you with an ethernet port (missing from the laptop), extra USB ports, and a thunderbolt port on the back of that. Plus, the display has a charging cable coming off of it. So when you want to sit down and use your desktop, you plug in the power and thunderbolt, and you're ready to go. With the second thunderbolt port you can connect another monitor or storage.
Storage is the other big step forward. The SSDs now start at 256GB and go up to 768GB. This is much more than the Macbook Air's 64GB. Most people won't need external storage anymore, and they get the bonus of SSDs having super-fast read speeds. Add in the fact that SSDs have no moving parts like standard drives, and yet another win for mobile computing. Your laptop won't feel sluggish compared to a desktop, so why get a desktop?
USB 3.0 is also only available on the laptop lines. Understandably, Apple may just be waiting to update the iMac desktops, but it's still an interesting development. It is almost universally odd for a laptop to get a feature before a desktop. I assume it's easier to add to a desktop, because you have fewer constraints compared to a laptop.
Obviously, this is all conjecture, but the lack of a meaningful update to the Mac Pro line could be another indication of the impending death of desktops. I have read articles about an email from Tim Cook saying that the Mac Pro will get an update next year, but that is still a ways off. MacRumors' Buyer's Guide currently shows a "don't buy" for all desktop Macs, with rumors of the aforementioned iMac and Mac Pro update next year. Given that timetable, who's to say the strides from the new Macbook Pro won't have trickled down making the laptops still a better buy than an update iMac desktop?