Digitimes briefly reports that Apple will be releasing updated notebooks "in the near future", with supply chain sources indicating that Apple's orders will rise 20% in the second quarter compared to first-quarter production.
The new MacBooks are only expected to receive specification upgrades to Intel's latest Haswell platform and are estimated to be unveiled at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, the sources said.
Claims of a 20% increase in orders come less than a month after the site claimed that orders would see a 10% increase for the quarter, although overall notebook shipments for 2013 are expected to be flat or only slightly higher year over year due to a lack of major updates and a weak PC market.
Late last month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that an update to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines would be a highlight for next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which kicks off on June 10. Kuo had previously believed that Apple would consolidate its MacBook Pro lines into an all-Retina lineup in mid-2013, but he now believes that continued popularity of the non-Retina models has led Apple to push back its consolidation plans for the time being.
Kuo indicated that updated models of the non-Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air should ship relatively soon after WWDC, with updated Retina MacBook Pro models shipping somewhat later due to constraints on display production.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new report forecasting that the product highlight of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which kicks off on June 10, will be the introduction of new models of the company's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines based on Intel's latest Haswell processors. The projection is in line with previous reports from Kuo and other sources, as well as recent claims that Apple will begin ramping up production of the new models in mid-May.
On the MacBook Pro side, Kuo is reversing his earlier predictions suggesting that 2013 would see Apple discontinue the non-Retina MacBook Pro lineup and shift consumers to the slimmer and more expensive Retina line introduced at last year's WWDC. Kuo believes that continued strength of non-Retina MacBook Pro models, particularly the 13-inch line, have led Apple to continue producing the non-Retina lineup for the time being.
Contrary to our previous projection, we now think Apple will continue to make the MacBook Pro alongside the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro because the 13” MacBook Pro remains the most popular product in the MacBook line. Also, there is still demand in emerging markets, where Internet penetration isn’t advanced, for optical disk drives.
Kuo believes that the updated versions of the non-Retina MacBook Pro could begin shipping very soon after WWDC, but that the new Retina MacBook Pro models will begin shipping somewhat later due to production bottlenecks on the displays.
For the MacBook Air, Kuo also believes that the new models will be introduced at WWDC and ship very soon after, but he indicates that Apple is unlikely to include Retina displays in the updated lineup. He believes that cost, thickness, and production concerns will continue to keep Retina displays out of Apple's lowest-cost and thinnest notebook line for the time being.
Thursday April 25, 2013 8:34 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Over the past several months, a number of rumors have suggested that Apple will be looking to update its notebook lineup at or soon after its Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on June 10. In particular, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a relatively strong track record, laid out a roadmap in January predicting that the MacBook Air could see an update by late in the second quarter with Apple's MacBook Pro moving to an all-Retina lineup early in the third quarter.
Reports on whether there will be any design changes as part of a rumored June notebook update have varied, with a February report from Taiwan's Economic Times claiming that the MacBook Air will see a design refresh while Kuo has suggested that the Retina MacBook Pro may also see design tweaks.
Digitimes has weighed in several times on the June notebook refresh rumors, first noting them in late December while suggesting that Apple may cut prices on the MacBook Air in the interim in order to keep sales moving. To that end, Apple did in fact drop pricing on its high-end 13-inch MacBook Air alongside a February spec bump for the Retina MacBook Pro. Digitimesweighed in again just weeks ago, claiming that Apple will be updating its notebook lineup late this quarter, again suggesting a June launch.
In a new report out today, Digitimes claims that Apple's quarterly notebook shipments are expected to grow 10% sequentially as the company works through the remainder of its excess inventory and looks to begin ramping up production again in mid-May. The report notes that this new production will primarily be next-generation models based on the Haswell platform.
Apple's MacBook shipments in the second quarter are expected to grow 10% sequentially as the company has almost finished digesting its excess inventory and should start placing new orders in mid-May, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.
The orders in May are expected to be mainly Haswell-based models, the sources noted.
Conflicting with some earlier reports of design changes for the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro, Digitimes says that Apple's suppliers have not received any instructions for changes to designs or their equipment, suggesting that the upgrades may be limited to internal improvements.
During Apple's earnings conference call earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook appeared to play down the company's product launch plans for the next several months, specifically noting optimism about "amazing" new products coming in the "fall and throughout 2014".
Thursday April 18, 2013 12:31 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Digitimes reports that Apple has essentially halted all component orders for its Mac product lines, apparently working through significant inventories of components delivered during an aggressive ramp-up late last year that may have proven overly aggressive.
The suppliers originally expected to finish digesting their Mac inventories in April, but are now stranded waiting for further instructions from Apple.
The sources revealed that Apple's Mac orders to the supply chain dropped to almost nothing after the Lunar New Year holidays. Apple had high hopes for its Mac product lines and placed aggressive orders at the end of 2012; however, the company is now badly affected by the decision.
The report claims that Apple generally provides shipment forecasts to its supply chain partners at the beginning of each quarter, but the company has not done so for the second quarter. The lack of information has reportedly left suppliers wondering when they will be able to resume production.
Just last week, Digitimes claimed that Apple is likely to refresh its notebook lineup at the end of the second quarter, so it seems that suppliers may need to start ramping up production for new models in the relatively near future.
Apple frequently has to juggle its supply chain as it approaches product updates, seeking to accurately estimate consumer demand in order to deplete its existing inventories just as the new models are released. But if today's report is true, it seems that Apple may have overestimated customer demand for the early part of 2013 and is now finding itself with substantial inventories heading into its next round of product updates.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has also warned about reading too much into rumors from Apple's supply chain, noting that its "very complex" nature makes it difficult to accurately interpret what is actually going on from limited data points, even if that data is accurate.
Citing supply chain sources, Digitimes reports that Apple is expected to see only modest "single-digit" shipment growth for its notebook lineup in 2013, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro in particular seeing weaker-than-expected sales.
Apple was confident about its 13-inch MacBook Pro performance for 2013, but the device's actual sales turn out to be weaker than expected, leaving the company still digesting its inventories in the first quarter.
The sources pointed out that Apple's MacBook Pros have strong attraction to consumers, but the devices' high prices are instead pushing consumers away.
The report also claims that Apple will be refreshing its notebook lineup "at the end of the second quarter", which could mean an introduction at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference expected in June.
Digitimes had reported in late December that Apple was planning a June refresh for its notebook lineup, and similar timeframes have been claimed by reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Taiwanese newspaper Economic Times.
Back in mid-February, Apple released a surprise minor update for the Retina MacBook Pro, including a significant price drop for the 13-inch models. Apple also dropped pricing on the high-end MacBook Air at the time, a move that had been at least in part predicted by Digitimes in its late December report.
Apple is likely to use Intel's forthcoming Haswell processors in its next-generation notebooks, and Intel will reportedly be releasing the first mobile Haswell chips in late May or early June.
Tuesday February 12, 2013 12:10 pm PST by Eric Slivka
Apple today released MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.7, addressing an issue related to batteries with more than 1000 charge cycles. The update applies to Mid 2010 and Early 2011 models of the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro and is a complement to earlier updates addressing the same issue for other machines.
About MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.7
This update addresses a rare issue on some Apple notebooks where a battery that has accumulated more than 1000 charge cycles may unexpectedly shut down or stop functioning.
The update is a 1 MB download and requires OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.5, or 10.8.2.
Tuesday January 15, 2013 8:04 pm PST by Eric Slivka
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a very good track record in predicting Apple's product plans, has issued a new research report outlining his expectations for Apple's 2013 product launches. Kuo believes that Apple will focus its launches on the third quarter of this year, with a number of updates throughout the company's various product families.
- iPhone: Kuo expects that Apple will introduce both an iPhone 5S and a revamped iPhone 5 around June or July of this year, with the iPhone 5S appearing very similar to the current iPhone 5 but carrying a number of upgrades including an A7 system-on-a-chip for better performance, a fingerprint sensor, and camera improvements such as an f2.0 aperture and a smart LED flash. He also believes that the lower-cost iPhone will in many ways simply be an iPhone 5 repackaged into a slightly thicker (8.2 mm vs. the current 7.6 mm) plastic enclosure available in six colors.
- iPad and iPad mini: Kuo forecasts that Apple will update both lines during the third quarter of the year, with the iPad mini gaining a Retina display as the most notable change. He also predicts that the full-size iPad will become considerably slimmer and lighter and adopt the thinner side bezels seen on the iPad mini.
- MacBook Pro: In line with his predictions from last year, Kuo believes that Apple will do away with the non-Retina MacBook Pro line in 2013, moving to an all-Retina lineup at cheaper price points than the current Retina models. Kuo also believes that Apple will tweak the design of these thinner Retina MacBook Pros, despite having just introduced the current form factor last year.
- MacBook Air: Retina displays remain a challenge for the MacBook Air given their relative thickness, and Kuo predicts that they will not be appearing in the 2013 MacBook Air lineup. Kuo believes that a move to Intel's forthcoming Haswell platform will be the main upgrade for the machines, with the update coming perhaps as soon as late in the second quarter.
- Desktops: Kuo notes that the iMac redesign has been well-received, but it appears that he does not see Retina displays coming to the lineup in 2013. He simply predicts a shift to the Haswell platform for the iMac and Mac mini in the fourth quarter of the year. Kuo's report does not address a new Mac Pro, even though Apple CEO Tim Cook had personally shared that a significant update for the line was due in 2013.
- iPod touch: Apple will reportedly discontinue the fourth-generation iPod touch, which is currently being sold alongside the new fifth-generation models. In order to fill the gap, Kuo believes that Apple will introduce a scaled-back fifth-generation model with 8 GB of storage and no rear camera at $199.
- Apple TV: Kuo predicts a minor update to the existing Apple TV product as soon as late this quarter, but he offers no details on what the update would entail. He also notes that Apple's more substantial television effort is unlikely to appear in 2013, with content issues and a lack of experience in the television set industry pushing things back until 2014.
Friday December 28, 2012 12:38 am PST by Arnold Kim
DigiTimes reports that Apple has signaled Taiwan-based suppliers that both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air series will see revisions in June 2013. As noted by our buyers guide, this would put the updates in line within the expected timeframes.
DigiTimes' sources also reveal that the new MacBook Airs won't have any major external design changes, but will feature a "new processor platform":
The sources pointed out that the MacBook Air for 2013 will feature a new processor platform, but its industrial design will not see any major changes.
The paper also reports that Ultrabook manufacturers are concerned that Apple "is likely to reduce the prices for its existing MacBook Airs before the launch of the new models." Such a move, however, would be extremely unusual for Apple. Apple rarely changes the prices of existing models before they are revised. So, we're skeptical about that particular concern. With the iPad 2, Apple has retained an older product and lowered its price to make room for a new product, but that move would also be unusual for Apple's notebook line.
Apple's MacBook lineup plans for late 2012 and 2013 (Source: Ming-Chi Kuo/KGI Securities)
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had previously outlined his expectations for Apple's 2013 plans back in June. The predictions in the top-portion of the graph above have already come true. Kuo expects that the MacBook Pro will consolidate back into a single hardware line next year. The new MacBook line will also use Intel's new Haswell chips which are expected between March and June 2013.
Haswell will incorporate CPU performance boosts as well as double the performance of the integrated GPU. This added GPU performance would be helpful if Apple does standardize on Retina Displays across the entire MacBook line in 2013.
Tuesday December 4, 2012 10:47 am PST by Eric Slivka
Soon after the launch of the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro in June, we pointed to an analysis by AnandTech showing how the need to drive a massive number of pixels taxed the graphics capabilities of the machine to the point where it struggled to hit 20 frames per second while scrolling on resource-intensive web pages such as Facebook news feeds.
I grabbed a build (r135516 - it's no longer the latest build but I assume the later builds also contain the fix) and tried it out on the 13-inch rMBP. Scrolling down my Facebook news feed ended up being one of the best showcases for poor scrolling performance on the rMBPs, so that's obviously the first test I ran. As always I used Quartz Debug to measure UI frame rate.
The results show frame rates of around 20 frames per second (fps) under the standard Safari 6.0.2, but jump to nearly 50 fps when using nightly build r135516 of WebKit.
Frame rates approaching 50 fps when scrolling in WebKit nightly build r135515
AnandTech hasn't been able to determine exactly what code changes were made to enable the significant boost to scrolling performance on Retina MacBook Pro models, and it is unclear exactly when those changes will be incorporated into Safari itself, but it certainly seems that a solution is on its way.
Tuesday October 30, 2012 9:10 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Earlier this year, Other World Computing (OWC) announced the launch of its 480 GB Mercury Aura Pro solid-state drive for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Some questioned the cost-effectiveness of pursuing such an upgrade, however, given its $579.99 price tag compared to Apple's $500 charge to boost the standard 256 GB drive to a 512 GB drive, although aftermarket upgrade users can also keep their original drives for external use.
OWC has now announced that it has certified this same Mercury Auro Pro drive for use in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro released last week, and Apple's decision to offer a 128 GB drive in the entry-level model may make OWC's offering a more appealing option for those looking to upgrade storage capacity on their machines.
In addition to offering significantly more capacity over the factory base 128GB SSD, the 480GB Mercury Aura Pro offers a $220 savings over the comparable sized 512GB factory capacity upgrade costing $800.
While OWC's aftermarket solid-state drive is currently offered only in 480 GB capacity, the company does note that additional capacities will be coming in November. Apple offers 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 768 GB options in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, with all but the lowest capacity available in the 15-inch models.
Thursday October 25, 2012 8:55 am PDT by Eric Slivka
In a new blog post today, Primate Labs summarizes the Geekbench 2 results for the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro hitting the company's database, unsurprisingly finding that the machines' performance is on par with that of the non-Retina models released in June. Benchmark scores for both stock models of the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro register within 0.5% of the scores seen for the corresponding non-Retina models.
It is interesting to note that these new benchmarks also appear to confirm an early Geekbench result that appeared in the database in late June. Aside from that machine having an older BIOS identifier and carrying only 4 GB of RAM while the released models all carry 8 GB of RAM, other details such as the processor, motherboard identifier, and the benchmark results themselves all line up with the production model.
As always, it's important to note that Geekbench testing focuses on processor and memory performance, providing comparisons of raw power between machines but only telling part of the story. Notably, as with the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro, the new Retina models do not offer a discrete graphics chip, instead relying on the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics packaged with Ivy Bridge even with the increased demands from the Retina display. Real-world performance is of course also affected by drive speeds, with the Retina models' all-flash storage topping the traditional hard drive options found in the non-Retina models, although the non-Retina models also have flash storage options available.
Thursday October 25, 2012 6:46 am PDT by Eric Slivka
iFixit has already performed one of its traditional high-quality teardowns on the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, noting that while those looking to repair their machines face many of the same challenges seen with the 15-inch model, there are a few changes that improve accessibility somewhat.
One of the most interesting changes relative to the larger model is a battery layout that leaves the area underneath the trackpad free of battery cells. In place of battery cells in that location, Apple has elected to mount the 13-inch model's flash storage, a move that allows access to the trackpad for replacement if necessary.
Another one of iFixit's major criticisms of the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro design was the glued-in battery cells that were found to be extremely difficult and time-consuming to remove without puncturing the cells. In the new 13-inch model, two of the six battery cells are housed in a metal tray that includes no adhesive, while the remaining four cells still required roughly 15 minutes of work to pry loose from the case.
The teardown of the 13-inch model otherwise yields few surprises compared to the larger 15-inch model, and the similar challenges of soldered RAM, proprietary screws, integrated display, and glued-in battery have led iFixit to award the 13-inch model a repairability score of 2 out of 10, one point higher than the 15-inch model.
Wednesday October 24, 2012 8:32 pm PDT by Jordan Golson
Apple has posted a new television ad for the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The spot showcases a number of different Apple apps including Mail, Final Cut Pro, Aperture, and iTunes. The new machine is aimed at "the pro in all of us."
Tuesday October 23, 2012 12:35 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
Following the introduction of the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its media event, Apple invited attendees to spend some time with the machine. Overall, the early hands-on impressions are favorable, with the reduction in thickness and weight making a significant difference for professionals on the go, but the high price tag associated with the Retina display and solid-state storage mean that it likely won't quite be able to inherit the non-Retina model's popularity just yet.
For starters, it's wildly thin. No, not manilla envelope thin, but thin enough to slip into most briefcases and backpacks without the consumer even noticing. Outside of that, it's mostly a shrunken version of the 15-incher let loose over the summer. The unibody design is as tight as ever, with the fit and finish continuing to impress. In my estimation, this is Apple's most deliberate move yet to differentiate the 13-inch MacBook Pro from the 13-inch MacBook Air.
It’s clear that Apple wants this new version of its top-performer to take over as a product that redefines the laptop category, and judging by limited hands-on experience, there’s good reason to believe they’ll eventually get their wish, though not just yet. [..]
As for how it performed, it was very much like using the 15-inch rMBP, which is my main machine currently. In the hand, however, it feels significantly lighter, at about a pound lighter than the bigger model. That’s a big difference for a machine you carry around with you all day, and alone might sway some users, price considerations aside.
Freshly announced today, and falling under our eager fingers straight after Apple’s San Jose launch event, the new notebook follows the successful route of its bigger brother. Gone is the optical drive, in comes the super-high-resolution screen, and wide open pop our wallets.
The screen size may be smaller – and lower resolution, too, at 2560 x 1600, though for an overall higher pixel density of 227ppi – but actually the 13-inch model is slightly thicker, at 0.75-inches. In contrast, the 15-inch Retina version is 0.71-inches thick. You don’t really notice the difference, however, and the advantage in weight, with near a full pound dropped, more than makes up for it.
The resolution settings for the display are just like the larger MacBook Pro — but the maximum allowed resolution is 1680 x 1050, unlike the 1920 x 1080 setting offered on the 15-inch model. Still, 1680 x 1050 is a tremendous option on a display of this size, though at the "best for Retina" setting the screen offers an effective 1280 x 800. If you've been using a 15-inch MacBook Pro for the screen size, the 13-inch just got a ton more attractive.
Tuesday October 23, 2012 7:49 am PDT by Eric Slivka
9to5Mac reports that it has received information on three models of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro launching today. According to sources, the machines appear to use the same 2.5 GHz and 2.9 GHz processors found in the non-Retina models, and like the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro all of the 13-inch Retina models start at 8 GB of RAM.
Unlike the 15-inch lineup, however, the entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will come with 128 GB of flash storage, with higher-end standard models moving up to 256 GB and 512 GB of storage. The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro starts at 256 GB of storage.
- 2.5 GHz, 128GB of Flash storage, 8GB of RAM
- 2.5 GHz, 256 GB of Flash storage, 8GB of RAM
- 2.9 GHz, 512GB of Flash storage, 8GB of RAM
Pricing on the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is said to start at approximately $1699, a $500 premium over the non-Retina model. For that premium, users will receive a Retina display, 128 GB of flash storage instead of a 500 GB traditional hard drive, and a bump from 4 GB of RAM to 8 GB. The Retina version of course also comes in a thinner form factor that omits the optical drive and Ethernet and FireWire ports.
The site has also received details on the new Mac mini models coming out today, with the high-end models now moving to quad-core processors. As with the existing lineup, there are two standard configurations and a server configuration.
- 2.5 GHz dual-core, 4GB RAM, 500GB Hard drive
- 2.3 GHz quad-core, 4GB RAM, 1TB Hard drive
- Server: 2.3 GHz quad-core 4GB of RAM, 2TB Hard drive
Friday October 19, 2012 3:31 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
Earlier this week, we pointed to a forum thread [Google translation] at Chinese site WeiPhone.com sharing a pair of photos of what was said to be the display assembly from Apple's upcoming 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
Battery layout of 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro
The poster of that thread has now updated the original post with additional photos showing a number of features of the machine, including the battery layout, the ports on the left and right sides of the machine, and a number of other internal features. Unfortunately, the pictures are generally rather small and of low quality, but it seems clear that the poster does indeed have access to an unreleased 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
Left-side ports: MagSafe 2, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt, USB
Right-side ports: SD card, HDMI, USB
Other photos include small shots of the main logic board, internals for the various ports, and 8 GB of RAM from Elpida. Several screenshots said to be of the machine booted into Windows 7 and showing an available Retina display resolution of 2560x1600 pixels are also included.
Update October 20 10:23 AM: The poster has added several more images of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, including several comparing it to the MacBook Air.
Friday October 19, 2012 2:30 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
Last month ahead of the iPhone 5 launch, we rolled out the first in a new series of "Roundups", designed to be a one-stop location for readers to catch up on our up-to-date thoughts on Apple's upcoming product releases and updates.
With another Apple media event right around the corner, we've added new Roundups to include a significant number of products expected to see releases next week. Our new pages, all of which are accessible through the "Roundups" tab in the site navigation bar, include:
Friday October 19, 2012 7:37 am PDT by Eric Slivka
9to5Mac reports that it has begun to receive pricing information on the upcoming 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. According to the information, the entry-level model should be priced in the neighborhood of $1699, a $500 premium over the corresponding non-Retina model.
We’ve now received pricing information on the base model and the “better” model. Based on wholesale prices we’ve received, we believe the entry model 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will cost roughly $1699 at launch while the higher specc’ed model will cost $300 more making the $2000 price point likely.
Current pricing on non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro
Interestingly, the estimated $500 price premium for the Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro compares to a $400 premium on the entry-level 15-inch Retina versus non-Retina models. The higher-level 15-inch configuration carries a $600 price premium over its non-Retina counterpart due to the significantly more expensive 512 GB flash storage included with the machine.
Tuesday October 16, 2012 8:40 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Four months ago, Apple pulled its products from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry, with sources indicating that Apple's design direction for its increasingly thin mobile products was incompatible with EPEAT's criteria for "disassemble-ability" and other factors. Just a week later, Apple responded to significant criticism of the move by placing "all eligible products" back on the registry and issuing a letter from senior vice president Bob Mansfield acknowledging that their removal was a "mistake" for the company.
With Apple's products back on the registry, some observers were surprised to note that Apple's new Retina MacBook Pro was included, given that it had been the subject of criticism for recyclability issues, with the strong glue used to affix the battery to the casing being of particular concern. It was quickly noted that manufacturers grade themselves against the EPEAT criteria, and thus some believed that EPEAT's review of the grading would ultimately result in the Retina MacBook Pro losing its status on the registry.
Last Friday, EPEAT issued a press release stating that it had performed verification studies on "ultrathin" laptops from four manufacturers, including Apple, and found that all of the tested models did indeed meet registry eligibility requirements. At the time, it was unclear which Apple models were included in the study, and we assumed that the ultrathin designation only addressed the MacBook Air, which has been deemed eligible for the past several generations.
Consequently, fresh verification of the MacBook Air was not necessarily a surprise, although EPEAT did find it necessary to both clarify the definition of "commonly available" tools for disassembly or upgrades and note that an expansion port such as Thunderbolt or USB is sufficient to contribute toward meeting the criteria of upgradeability.
iFixit's Kyle Wiens has, however, now confirmed to MacRumors that the EPEAT verification testing did indeed include the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which the group is classifying as an ultrathin notebook despite the fact that it is substantially thicker and more powerful than the MacBook Air. In an opinion piece published at Wired today, Wiens addresses the impact of the decision, calling the new clarification of the EPEAT standards "greenwashing":
Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro – the least repairable, least recyclable computer I have encountered in more than a decade of disassembling electronics – was just verified Gold, along with four other ultrabooks. This decision demonstrates that the EPEAT standard has been watered down to an alarming degree. [...]
At best, the interpretation of the EPEAT Gold standard is laughably out of touch. At worst, it means recyclers a decade from now may be faced with a mountain of electronic waste they cannot affordably recycle without custom disassembly fixtures and secret manufacturer information.
Wiens goes on to provide an overview of how development of EPEAT's standards is weighted toward computer industry companies and how this has watered down the environmental criteria for the products.
Unfortunately, getting highly specific language into a standard like EPEAT is challenging because manufacturers claim it limits future innovation. So when language does finally make it into the standard, it’s critical to rigorously enforce it.
Where language is ambiguous, decisions must consider the goals of the standard, or risk negating its purpose entirely. The updated definitions systematically weaken the 1680.1 standard.
Apple's design direction is clearly weighted toward building products that are as slim and light as possible, using custom and proprietary components to achieve its goals at the cost of upgradeability and repairability. For most consumers who never see fit to upgrade their computers, the tradeoff is an acceptable, or even desirable, one. But for those who seek to keep their computers running as long as possible before purchasing a new machine, and even for any users interested in end-of-life recyclability of their products, Apple's tactics are undoubtedly cause for concern.
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