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Apple preparing changes to MacBook lineup this month

Whether it's entirely new hardware, a spec bump, or simply price adjustments, Apple apparently has something different in the works for its MacBook lineup this month, AppleInsider has been led to believe.

While hardware is not expected to be the focus of WWDC 2016 next week, people familiar with Apple's plans have indicated to AppleInsider that some form of changes are expected to affect Apple's MacBook lineup in the near future. Whether they occur alongside the annual developers conference, or at some point later this month, remains to be seen.

The famously tight-lipped company has, thus far, been able to keep its precise plans under wraps, but it's now expected that product adjustments are in the works for the coming weeks. Truth be told, at the moment it's unknown exactly what is in the works, but sources indicated that Apple's proverbial wheels for a changeup are in motion.

However, prospective buyers waiting on a redesigned MacBook Pro shouldn't get their hopes up. While it's possible Apple could use the WWDC stage to pre-announce a revamped, thinner MacBook Pro with a dynamic OLED touch bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader, the hardware is not expected to launch in the immediate future.

While sources couldn't pin down Apple's exact plans, it's believed current MacBook families could see some adjustment by the end of this month, even if it's just in the form of more aggressive pricing.

Such a move would make sense, as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups haven't been updated in over a year. Even without previewing a redesigned MacBook Pro, Apple could spur sales of existing Pro and Air models with more aggressive pricing, or even potentially a minor spec bump.

While the Pro will live on with a new chassis and new features, it's expected that the MacBook Air design is on the way out, having been replaced by the ultraportable 12-inch MacBook. If Apple were to touch the MacBook Air, any changes could be in the form of a simple price reduction.

It's also possible that 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro revamps could launch at separate times. Apple already did that in 2012, when the MacBook Pro gained a thinner design with Retina display — the 15-inch model launched first at WWDC, and the 13-inch version followed suit that October.

Similarly, in 2015, it introduced new 13-inch MacBook Pros with a Force Touch trackpad, but waited a few more months before launching a similarly-equipped 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Another scenario could see Apple pre-announce the MacBook Pro, given the anticipated inclusion of an OLED touch bar above the keyboard. It's possible that Apple would want to give developers some time to author applications that take advantage of the dynamic interactive display, presumably through new development tools that could be made available for third-party apps at the conference.

That would align with a rumor that surfaced earlier this week, claiming Apple plans to announce new MacBook Pros this month, but won't launch them until later in the year. Such a move would almost certainly arrive in tandem with price cuts to existing models to fill the time gap. However, it should be noted that AppleInsider's own sources could not corroborate this information, and had no inside word on the prospect of a MacBook Pro unveiling at WWDC.

Revised pricing or slightly faster processors would be a way for Apple to offset its pre-announcement of a new MacBook Pro, if the company were to take that route. Doing so could help to counter a lull in sales that would inevitably occur, as consumers wait for the yet-to-launch Pro models.

A silent price drop or spec update later this month from Apple wouldn't be unheard of, either. Such revisions wouldn't necessarily be big enough news to unveil from the WWDC stage, but would be plenty to move the needle and reaccelerate MacBook sales ahead of more substantial updates later this year.

Apple is set to kick off WWDC 2016 with a keynote presentation next Monday in San Francisco, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. AppleInsider will be there live, with full coverage of the announcements.