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MacBook Pro 2021 a no-show at WWDC — so when will it arrive?

MacBook Pro 2021
(Image credit: Future)

From a variety of leaks and rumors, we'd been cautiously hoping for Apple to reveal the MacBook Pro 2021 at WWDC 2021 this week, but the keynote for the conference came and went with no hardware news. 

So why exactly was the new MacBook Pro a no-show? After some analysis, we've come up with several possible reasons why Apple didn't announce the expected redesign for the MacBook Pro, despite all the rumors pointing to a possible launch.  

As it stands, we can tentatively predict that the next MacBook Pro could be revealed in the fall, maybe after the expected reveal of the iPhone 13. But in the meantime, here's why we think Apple kept the new MacBooks out of WWDC. 

MacBook Pro 2021 leaks: Why were they wrong?

Prior to WWDC, the announcement of the new MacBook Pro felt rather likely, and it's easy to see why. 

Previous reports from reliable sources such as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hinted at a possible early-summer launch, which lined up with the June 7's WWDC conference. 

And just two weeks ago, Jon Prosser, a somewhat reliable leaker with claimed internal sources, confidently declared that Apple would show off new MacBooks at WWDC. In fact, his source had reportedly revealed that Apple would schedule press briefings for the new device right after the conference had taken place. "I can confirm MacBook Pro is coming," Prosser stated. 

This was then followed by a research note seen by MacRumors from Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who predicted that new 14-inch and 16-inch versions of MacBook Pro would be showcased during WWDC 2021. 

According to Ives, the MacBook Pro reveal would have apparently been part of a “few surprises” that Apple had up its sleeve for its annual developers' event. 

However, on the day of the conference, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman published a summary of what was expected to launch during WWDC 2021, and it didn't include any hardware announcements. This, along with a statement from another leaker named L0vetodream fueled some serious doubts about a potential MacBook Pro announcement. L0vetodream said Apple wouldn't show off any hardware and that those who expect new MacBooks “should not be so fast.”

The no-show of the MacBook Pro 2021 at WWDC also corresponds with a report from Nikkei Asia, who claimed that the production of the two MacBook Pro models had shifted from the May/June timeframe to the second half of 2021. 

WWDC 2021: A focus on software

Another reason why Apple may not have announced the MacBook Pro 2021 at WWDC is trivially simple: the Worldwide Developers Conference doesn't typically involve big hardware announcements, especially concerning new MacBook Pros.

Historically speaking, WWDC mainly focuses on software, and this year was no different. Monday's keynote included announcements and previews of the new iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12, and watchOS 8 software updates. 

Each of those updates has its own showcase of new features and enhancements, but there are a few common things, too. Apple's currently trying to make it easier to share things between different devices. And, understandably, privacy still remains a big focus as the Cupertino company tries to set itself apart from other big tech giants.

All four of the software updates listed above are already available in beta form for developers. Public betas of each update will arrive in July, with the final release scheduled for this fall.

Production delayed because of COVID-19?

Lastly, the lack of a MacBook Pro 2021 announcement may be related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has already affected the production yield of many big device releases. 

The pandemic is a major culprit behind the current global chip shortage. That shortage has interrupted the production of both graphics cards and components used in manufacturing next-gen consoles such as the PS5 and the Xbox Series X

Apple may have been affected. too. The ongoing chip shortage has reportedly impacted the production of the Apple M1 chip that powers its Mac devices, as well as a shortage of components used in Apple product displays. 

Sadly, we've already seen reports that chip shortages may last through 2023. So there's no telling when the situation will get better. And that means Apple may not announce the MacBook Pro 2021 or other new Macs until the chip shortage is under more control, potentially later on in the fall or even next year. 

MacBook Pro 2021 release date: When might it arrive?

If the rumors about the summer launch still prove to be true, then Apple could possibly announce the MacBook Pros via a press release or a small streamed reveal. However, that would be very out-of-character for the company since an announcement as big as the upcoming MacBook Pro with what could be a new M2 chip would seemingly lend itself to a proper showcase. 

The new MacBook Pros are also expected to offer mini-LED displays, a new type of MagSafe charger, and more ports than the previous models while ditching the TouchBar.

As it stands, we do still expect to see a new MacBook Pro this year in a rumored new 14-inch size, as well as an upgraded 16-inch model.  But we would anticipate a launch later rather than sooner.