Prepare for MacBook Pros that look like MacBook Airs

After sticking with a fairly consistent unibody MacBook Pro design for some time, Apple may be gearing up to bring design elements from its popular MacBook Air line into its more powerful models later this year.

The company is preparing a “top-to-bottom revamp” of the MacBook Pro lineup that will result in thinner unibody cases and solid-state hard drives and the loss of optical disk drives, sources tell AppleInsider.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard such talk, as rumors of a MacBook Air-inspired redesign for the MacBook Pro first started last year.  There’s also word that Apple is working on a 15-inch MacBook Air model, which could be related to this report.

That Apple will finally redesign the MacBook Pro this year doesn’t come as a surprise—the real question is to what extent. I have a hard time believing that Apple will completely remove the choice of larger traditional hard drives (SSDs are much faster but hold much less) from the MacBook Pro. And while the optical disk drive is easy to forgo on an ultraportable laptop, consumers who rely on the MacBook Pro as their only computer would certainly miss the ability to throw in a DVD.

There are benefits to completely dropping older hardware on the MacBook Pro. It would allow Apple to bring the quick boot and instant-on capabilities of the MacBook Air to its wider notebook lineup, and it would also significantly improve battery life. And of course, such a move would help Apple one-up Intel and the many Ultrabook manufacturers trying to ape the style of the MacBook Air.

AppleInsider says that Apple is prioritizing the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s redesign over the 17-inch model, but that’s par for the course for Apple.

It’ll be interesting to see how Apple juggles its MacBook Pro and Air lines as they begin to more closely resemble each other. Most companies would be terrified about cannibalizing a successful new product, but Apple has already shown that it isn’t afraid to make sweeping changes if the result is better products.