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Apple may unveil new MacBook hybrid this year, says analyst

A new hybrid laptop combining elements of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro could hit the market this year, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Could Apple unveil a whole new hybrid laptop this year?
Could Apple unveil a whole new hybrid laptop this year?

Apple's next laptop could offer the portability of the MacBook Air and the power of the MacBook Pro, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

"We also predict Apple will roll out a fully new MacBook model in early 3Q12, boasting strong performance and easy carryability by combining the advantages of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro," Kuo said in a report yesterday  cited by MacRumors.

To make way for the new laptop and streamline its lineup, Apple could kill its 17-inch MacBook Pro this year, predicts the analyst. Pointing to sluggish sales and falling shipments, Kuo believes Apple's largest laptop is the likely candidate for the chopping block.

The first quarter of 2012 will likely see sales of 1.5 million for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 500,000 for the 15-inch flavor, but only 50,000 for the 17-incher, according to the analyst's sales estimates. The remaining 1.1 million of Apple's 3.1 million in notebook sales for the quarter are expected to be grabbed by its popular MacBook Air.

Assuming the analyst is on the money, would Apple offer the new hybrids in addition to its 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs and its 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros? Or would it eventually replace the whole lineup to focus solely on the hybrid models?

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.