The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is coming soon, with pre-orders starting Friday and models shipping on June 24. It is a remarkable product for a number of conflicting reasons. First and foremost, it’s the first Mac to ever ship with the M2 processor, so how it performs gives us a first look at how Apple plans to improve its lineup of Mac processors from generation to generation. It’s also the only Mac laptop to come without a MagSafe charger and the last to include a Touch Bar.
So while the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro will gain attention because of the M2, it’s also worth asking the question that was on everyone’s lips last week after it was announced: Why does this computer even exist?
Theory 1: Recycling
Apple loves to recycle, not only when it uses recycled aluminum in its devices, but also when it exports features like Center Stage from one product to another. Consider the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro as the ultimate in recycling.
It is literally the same as the 13-inch M1 Macbook Pro. The matter has not changed. The ports are the same. The Touch Bar is the same. The only thing that’s different is the M2 on the inside, which isn’t nothing, but it does mean that Apple had to make minimal changes to its production line to get this new laptop out the door. (And since it’s made with older parts and hardware, that’s probably why it’s available this month, and the new M2 MacBook Air won’t follow until sometime in July.)
The longer a product is in production, the more profitable it is to make. Margins fall, the company recoups its investment in the assembly line and the price remains the same. The 13-inch M2 Macbook Pro must have some pretty sweet margins. (And maybe Apple made tons of Touch Bars and can’t sell them anywhere else.) A new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the design of the 14- and 16-inch models would cost a lot more for Apple to make and less. profitable if Apple didn’t raise the price. Which brings me to my next theory.
Theory 2: Marketing
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299. That’s a simple fact and hides a more complex one: The new, high-end MacBook Pro models with mini LED screens and MagSafe charging and enthusiast processors start at $1,999. The gap between the 13-inch model and the others is significant, and Apple is looking to offer a laptop it can call MacBook Pro for significantly less than $2,000.
One reason for this is the classic marketing approach of offering a product line in good/better/best versions. The low-priced “good” model makes people consider the product. But when they look at their options, they realize how much better the “better” version is. People are more likely to buy the middle of the range, not the lowest. The existence of the 13-inch MacBook Pro will sell many more 14-inch MacBook Pros.
Then there’s the fact that product names matter. The new M2 MacBook Air is perhaps identical to the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro in almost every important way in terms of performance, and superior in features like a larger screen and MagSafe charging. But that’s a MacBook Air, and while no one is saying MacBook Airs are ahead of… babiesI’m absolutely certain that many organizations (and individuals) simply won’t be caught buying a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro. For them there is this MacBook Pro. Sure, it might be a MacBook Air in all but name… but hey, names matter.
Theory 3: It has some desirable properties
If it seems like I’m being a little mean to the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, you’re right. But it does have some features that can make it a good buy for a very specific clientele.
First, it has a cooling fan and the M2 Air has none. In the M1 generation, this made almost no difference to normal operations – you really had to ramp up the graphics processors and run them for a long time to get the chip hot enough to power the Air back up while the Pro could and just keep digging. We don’t know exactly how the M2 will perform yet, but it’s possible that for certain tasks that require extended processor performance, the fan-cooled model will do better. (However, I would argue that if you intend to do that level of work, you should) For real consider one of the more expensive MacBook Pros if you can afford it.)
According to Apple’s specs, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a larger battery than the Air, allowing it to provide an additional two hours of battery life. If battery life is your main feature, the new 13-inch Macbook Pro makes sense.
Some people really like the Touch Bar! It’s clearly headed for the exit, but if you love the Touch Bar and don’t want to give it up, the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro may be the fastest, most advanced computer it’s ever supported. Take it while you can.
Beyond that, though, I’m drawing a blank on why people would want to buy it. If you’re terrified of magnets? Don’t want a screen with notches? If the prospect of a higher quality webcam fills you with dread of more Zoom meetings in the future?
For all those people, this computer is for you. But I suspect the computer will ship for the rest of us in July, with MagSafe, a better camera, a full-height row of function keys, a better webcam, a sleek and modern design, and a choice of four colors… and all of them. for the same price or less.