The Assassination of the 17-inch MacBook Pro
Monday, Jun 11, 2012

All products die. It's inevitable. That said, Apple didn't just let the 17-inch MacBook Pro die. They didn't simply kill it off. They assassinated it and are hurriedly burying the body.

My wife, Rachel, is a photographer and has lived on 17-inch Apple laptops since before they were even called MacBooks. She cherishes hers because of the anti-glare screen and ample screen real estate for photo post-production.

My dad got one of the first ones back in 2003, and when he passed away it went to my sister who used it until recently, when it couldn't be upgraded anymore and she needed a newer OS to sync her iPad.

People close to me have relied on 17-inch Apple laptops for nearly a decade.

Today during the WWDC keynote Apple acted like the machine never existed, and when the keynote was over the machine was wiped from the site and the store (albeit a bit clumsily).

It's only mostly dead

Rachel's 17-inch MacBook Pro is over three years old and though it works fine the latest model is about 4x the speed, and hers won't last forever. Since the Retina 15-inch MBP doesn't have an anti-glare option, and the 17-inch screen size is still preferable, we decided we should get a replacement 17-inch MacBook Pro while we can.

First off, the Apple Online Store isn't an option. It shrugs at you innocently and says "17-inch MacBook? I've never heard of that." After calling around to the local Apple Stores we found three that had them in stock, all three of which said they had instructions to send their remaining inventory back to Apple at the end of the day. One of them even said they had instructions not to sell any before they sent them back.

I managed to get one of the few remaining machines tonight, and it's the first time I ever bought AppleCare for a machine. If something goes wrong with it down the line I want it fixed, since replacement won't be an option.

It turns out that this is why Apple needs the existing inventory of 17-inch MacBooks. The production lines have halted, and Apple needs parts to meet its AppleCare commitments for the next several years. For most people yesterday held plentiful machines in a popular line, but by tomorrow the machine will have been all but wiped off the face of the earth, save for the handful in third-party stores that are sure to go within a matter of days. The Apple machine that has made an art of taking a product from nonexistence to ubiquity in a matter of weeks has shown that it can perform this magic trick in reverse as well.

See? Assassinated.

R.I.P. 17-inch MacBook Pro. You were a mighty warrior.

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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
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I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox