At the WWDC keynote Apple announced that their 13-inch aluminum MacBook’s were getting a name change, they are now joining their 15 and 17-inch siblings and are now MacBook Pros.
Everyone. including Apple, explains this by saying that these aluminum MacBooks were similar enough to the MacBook Pro to join that line of notebooks. They have higher end CPUs, tons of RAM, large hard drives, backlit keyboards, and 9400M graphics. But, I believe one of the main reasons for the name change is to keep the perception that Apple is a high end brand. Not because the word “pro” makes you think of high end but because the word “plastic” makes you think “cheap.”
Before the name change the majority of journalists and users would differentiate between the aluminum and plastic 13-inch MacBooks by referring to them as “the aluminum one” and “the plastic one.” It was very clear that Apple was unhappy about that because they refused to refer to the plastic one with any word other than “poly-carbonate.” In fact, Apple would even correct some members of the press if they referred to it as plastic in front of an Apple representative.
Apple would rather have users differentiate between different MacBook Pro models by naming the screen size than they would have users differentiate between MacBooks by naming the material they are made out of.
Of course this isn’t the only reason Apple is now naming them MacBook Pros, they are in fact of a high enough quality and speed to be referred to as pro level notebooks. But, now they can also talk about how well the MacBook Pro line of notebooks is selling. Which also helps them appear to be a higher end brand, if the majority of notebooks you sell are part of your high end line it’s clear that the perception is going to be that you’re a high end brand.