MacBook Pro Rumors Point to Imminent Refresh

Over the weekend the Apple (s aapl) rumour mill went into overdrive with talk of a MacBook Pro refresh arriving later this week. AppleInsider reported yesterday that Apple informed resellers to expect mysterious new deliveries any day now:

…the Mac maker this weekend began informing some of its larger European resellers that they could expect delivery of sealed product pallets to their brick-and-mortar stores as early as Monday, which coincides with one of ten federal holidays (President’s Day) in the United States.

Secretive as always, Apple has also made it clear that the shipments are not to be opened ahead of an official announcement from the Mother Ship, issuing warnings of repercussions (official retailer license cancellations) to those who don’t do as they’re told.

Adding further fuel to the fire, an article today (also from AppleInsider reports that Apple has extended the shipment times for all U.S. online orders of MacBook Pros to three-to-five business days, while European supplies dwindled even earlier:

…Apple’s major European distributors ran out [of] MacBook Pros near the top of the month, regional resellers have not been able to place new orders for the notebooks for over two weeks, and Apple has not shipped a single unit of its own to the channel during the same period of time.

And finally, Engadget adds to the weekend rumor-fest with news that Best Buy (s bby) has already added new Apple laptop SKUs to its inventory.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple rumor party if there wasn’t at least one big claim thrown in for good measure, and this time it comes from CNET, which speculates that the long-awaited and much-anticipated Light Peak technology could make its debut in the new MacBook Pro lineup. But how likely is it that Light Peak is finally here?

Light Peak Primer

I first wrote about Light Peak here on TheAppleBlog back in 2009, shortly after Intel (s intc) unveiled the technology at the IDF Conference in San Francisco. Devised by Apple and developed by Intel, Light Peak is a data transfer technology that promises speeds far in excess of the still-not-ubiquitous USB 3.0 (USB 3.0 will manage a throughput of 3 GB/s, while Light Peak teases a blistering 10 GB/s).

What’s more, Light Peak is designed to allow for multiple simultaneous device connections on a single port. Only last week, AppleInsider’s Neil Hughes reported on a recent patent application Apple made, titled “Magnetic Connector with Optical Signal Path” detailing the inclusion of a fiber optic line built-in to the existing MagSafe power connector, which certainly sounds like a possible implementation of Light Peak.

No one denies that Light Peak represents a significant new technology, but it seems to me that if Apple is about to launch something so revolutionary, it’d be keen to really talk it up. That means a special media event n bursting at the seams with the usual hyperbole.

New MacBooks are very likely being released in a matter of days, and while there’s some chance they might be more in keeping with the design of the MacBook Air — sporting longer battery life and flash-based memory — the lack of any announced special event suggests to me that there’s nothing more to the refresh than that. A thinner MacBook Pro with a wedge-shape and flash memory doesn’t require a media event; it would be a retread of the MacBook Air event last year.

And Finally…

If you’re dedicated to finding evidence of Light Peak’s imminent release, look no further than an article yesterday from MacRumors asking “Could the iPad 2 Be Getting Light Peak?”

MacRumors’ Arnold Kim muses over the rumored existence of a “mystery port” seen in some iPad 2 case designs, and says the inclusion of Light Peak in the next iPad “…could help explain some particularly incongruous rumors we’ve been hearing about the iPad 2 over the past few months.”

I can’t help but think of it this way; the iPad 2 announcement is likely only a few months away, and if both this year’s new MacBook Pro and iPad were to feature Light Peak, surely those product announcements would be made together? Of course, Apple is nothing if not unpredictable, so don’t count out Light Peak altogether.

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