Apple's Predictable Release Timeline?One of the definitive things everyone thought would come out of Apple's switch to Intel processors was that Apple's product release timeline would finally become predictable. But that has totally not happened!
In fact, most facts-based predictions in relation to the Intel transition have been wrong. For example, the favourites for Intel-ization at Macworld '06 were actually the iBook G4 and the Mac mini since they had G4s and were the longest in the tooth and a little Core Duo love wouldn't have done them any harm. Most people were certain about the fact that no Pro line would get the Intel loving so soon because Universal versions of software such as Adobe Creative Suite were nowhere near to being released. Also, the iMac wouldn't be upgraded because it'd just got a speed bump and slightly redesigned form factor just earlier in September. But what actually happened? There was no Intel-based iBook or Mac mini, but instead a MacBook Pro and an Intel-based iMac - diametrically opposite to almost all of the pundit predictions.
When the March special event was coming up, all the rumour mills started going on about the 13.3" iBook that was sure to be released, but instead what came out were the iPod Hi-Fi, the Intel-based Mac mini and some completely pathetic and way-too-expensive iPod leather cases. The MacBook was released without fanfare and more or less unexpectedly a couple of months later. And although the rumour mills were talking about the imminent MacBooks even then, it was (a) no rocket science and (b) they weren't exactly credible because they had been predicting the 13.3" iBook constantly since, erm, the beginning of 2005.
The only predictable release that has happened this year has been that of the Mac Pro (and, well, the Xserve) - right down to the name. It was basically exactly as most knowledgeable and logically thinking pundits had predicted it. Maintained the same enclosure, had more space due to decreased cooling and thus allowed for a second optical drive and more hard drives, and packed an Intel Xeon processor.
Since the release of the Merom chips, almost every single PC manufacturer has introduced a Merom-based notebook. Apple even unexpectedly introduced the new Merom-based iMacs just a few days before the September 12 special event. But what about the MacBook Pro? Rumours have been flying since August that the new MBP should be out any day now and yet, it's been almost two entire months and nothing. Somebody at Engadget with similar annoyance at Apple's lack of releasing-MacBook-Pros as mine even posted an entry with no news but simply titled "So, where the hell are our Core 2 Duo MacBooks?"
Apple is obviously at a competitive disadvantage if it is shipping Core Duos in its highest-end notebooks when all its competitors are shipping Core 2 Duos. How long will Apple wait before releasing the MacBook Pros? I really don't know. I thought that they would release new MBPs before the end of September but there isn't all that much left in September now. So, my basic point: Has it become easier to predict Apple's release timeline? Not… really.
All I can say is: any day now.