That recent MacBook Pro announcement had me surprised. Like many people here, I expected bells and whistles: thinner body, high-res screen, SSD - basically anything that would have made the Mac cooler than the average PC. I even expected Apple to surprise us with a revamped feature, not necessarily requested but much appreciated once you know how it works, something à la the glass Trackpad that came with the unibody redesign. Instead, we mainly got a specs bump. We, however, got a huge one. Seriously, who expected that? Core i5 or i7 in the 13, and i7 quads in the 15 and 17?. People expected an i3 in the 13, hoped for an i5, and even feared that the C2D would stay. This had me thinking, and my guess is that Apple is taking the MBP into another direction. Theyre giving the Pro back to MacBook Pro. Lets recap what happened in the past years. Back during the pre-unibody MacBook era, there was a strong distinction between a MacBook and a MacBook Pro. For one, the price difference was huge. You almost had to be a Pro to justify to buy one of those machines. You had discrete graphics, matte screens, and all the ports a Pro would want. The MacBook, on the other hand, was an accessible machine, very popular for home and amongst students. Then the Unibody MacBook came. I bought one myself, and loved it. It wasnt that much more expensive than the regular MacBook, yet felt like a much more high-end product. Then, they renamed it to MacBook Pro 13. Thats when the product segmentation changed. A Mac didnt have to be that powerful anymore to be called Pro. So much that even the 15 MBP dropped discrete graphics on its lower configuration. That was weird. But hey, the MacBook Pro then had a new price point and sold much more than before. It became the most popular Mac, selling as much as all other Mac computers combined. Even people on a budget felt that is was worth stretching the extra cash for a 13 MBP. I think it was, in fact, one of the best computer lines ever produced and reached a very broad market. The white MacBook gradually became less in less popular, and for a reason. People buying it basically bought it for being the cheapest Mac laptop. The product itself wasnt very appealing, except maybe for young women who thought it was fashionable and girly. The MacBook Air was still expensive, and perceived by people as a form over function computer, more meant for Apple to break a record and get the crowds attention than to actually serve a purpose. Then the MBA got better. It went down in price, and had SSD standard. As the horsepower on more powerful machines kept upgrading, people started to understand that a hard drive was a huge bottleneck for performance. The MBA got credit for being more than just a thin computer. It was also the fastest for light usage. But meh, 64GB or 128GB of storage? Thats small. 256GB so expensive that you could get a 15 MBP instead? Seems like a better choice. It wasnt a total success. People had faith that this was in fact, like Apple claims, the MacBook of the future. Since the MacBook everybody buys is the MacBook Pro, people translated this as Thats what the MacBook Pro will be inspired by. Thats what I thought. And now, this new refresh makes me doubt. It seems to me like the MBP is leaving the casual market, leaving place for the MacBook Air to take the ground. Its not ready yet, but the transition is starting to take place. Remember the iPods? Yeah. Thats what happened. The iPod (classic) used to be very popular. It was big, strong, powerful, had lots of storage, but was on the pricey side. Just like the old MacBook Pro. Then came the Nano, like the MacBook Pro 13. Its limited storage was enough for a lot of people, and the iPod appealed to an even wider market. Then came the iPod touch. It had the newest technology, but was very pricey compared to a classic, especially for its storage size. It wasnt that popular at first. What would you need an iPod touch for? people asked. It seemed like a touchscreen was mainly good for the cool factor. People didn't expect to pay 500$ for a music player offering very little storage space when the Classic/Nano did the job just fine. Seems familiar? Thats whats happening with the MacBook Air right now. Notice how the iPod touch is also the best-selling iPod right now, yet didnt change that much since its introduction. Price went down. Storage went up. It kept being refined every generation, and hit the mass market. Hard. Now why would you want an iPod classic? Some people do have very large music collections, but for most people, 160GB is overkill. Just like a quad-core i7 MacBook Pro is overkill for the average consumer, who just wants to check websites, emails, Facebook, use Office, maybe use iLife or Photoshop a bit. Theyll buy it because its a Mac, and want a Mac. Half of people buying Macs are buying their first, and there is quite a lot of people who will buy them without any idea of what Core i7 means. They just want a good computer and trust Apple. Right now, the MBP kind of has the default Mac status. Apples efforts seem to be to change that. Notice how they made a lot of advertising around the MacBook Air, while this MBP refresh has almost been silent. The Air stayed on Apple.coms frontpage for months, until this week in fact, with the highly noticeable, contrasting black background. Apple doesnt release sale numbers for specific Mac models, but working for an Apple reseller myself, I can tell you that sales of the MacBook Air are nothing compared to the Pro. Then why would they waste their time advertising a product that's so unpopular? Because that makes them in total control of what's happening next. By The next generation of MacBooks, Apple didnt mean the Air would influence the Pro. They meant it would replace its position as the mass market Mac. The MacBook Pro will keep getting more "Pro" until it's no longer competing as much with the Air, just like the iPod Classic and Mac Pro, it will have its own market. The Air got the new SSD standard first. The high-resolution screen standard first. Whats next? Its the Air thats getting the bells and whistles, and it wont stop. Its getting featured in all new Apple promotional material, such as the Mac App Store and OS X Lion pictures. Im starting to think that the MacBook Pro I was dreaming about last week will in fact come to life, just not with the Pro name attached to it. High-res 15, Core i5, superdrive-less, all-SSD, Thunderbolt-equipped MBA at an affordable price sounds like the future to me. And the white MacBook? I guess it will take the path of the Nano and stay the cute and affordable way to get into the family.