I think Apple’s computer lineup has remained fairly — even remarkably — simple, considering that its growth has consistently outpaced the rest of the industry for the past several years or more. It’s no longer the simple four-cell grid of consumer vs. professional and desktop vs. portable, but it’s not much more complicated than that. I would argue that it has simply gained a column: it’s now consumer, professional, and specialist, the latter of which contains the Mac Mini and the 12-inch MacBook.
I think many of us longtime Apple customers look back fondly at the four-cell grid. But Apple doesn’t seem to be categorizing their devices in that way these days. There isn’t much of a need to think of things as “professional” or “consumer” anymore — the truth is that all of the computers that Apple sells can do just about any task that you can throw at them.
Instead, Apple devices look to be positioned based on their physical footprint. And even though the larger devices usually feature higher performance, that might have more to do with what Apple is capable of delivering within a given device volume rather than Apple trying to hit some mysterious performance target.
My guess is that Apple is heading towards a future where customers are better off basing their buying decisions on which screen size they prefer rather than what tasks they expect to perform. We are quickly reaching the point where even the slowest machines pack more computing power than the majority of customers would ever need. And in that world, screen size and device footprint are the largest differentiating factors.