Apple may discontinue 17-inch MacBook Pro

Apple may be preparing to refresh its popular 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro lineup, but one analyst believes the days of the 17-inch MacBook Pro are numbered.

Indeed, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicts Cupertino will “likely to stop making” the 17-inch laptop this year due to a significant slowdown in shipments.

Kuo’s assessment certainly seems plausible, as the upcoming refresh is expected to blur the design lines between the Pro and the uber-thin MacBook Air.

To be sure, a somewhat unwieldy 17-inch laptop doesn’t exactly fit in with the Pro’s new sleek form factor.

Although Apple has yet to officially confirm its MacBook refresh, the new models are widely expected to be powered by Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors.

According to AppleInsider, the roll out of the revamped MacBooks is expected to be staggered, with the new 15-inch models (possibly) hitting Apple store shelves as soon as this month.

An upgraded 13-inch MacBook Pro will quickly follow an launch in June, alongside a slew of new features, including solid-state storage and a thinner design that lacks an optical drive.

The MacBook Pro was first introduced in January 2006, replacing the PowerBook G4. The line was most recently refreshed in February 2011, with Intel Thunderbolt technology, dual and quad core Intel Core i5/i7 Sandy Bridge processors as well as an HD FaceTime camera.