The MacBook Pro refresh that Apple (AAPL) just announced isn't a massive one. But it is a fresh sign that -- after a period during which the Mac got relatively less attention amid a push to market the iPad Pro as a notebook replacement -- Apple is working harder to keep its Mac base happy.
Ten months after the last such move, Apple is giving both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros faster CPUs. The upgrade for the 13-inch version is fairly incremental, with Apple replacing the 4-core Intel (INTC) Core i7 CPU options provided for the 2018 version with chips featuring somewhat faster clock speeds. However, for the 15-inch version, Apple is both providing a slightly faster, 6-core, Core i7 CPU for the base model, and for the first time offering 8-core CPU options (via Intel's Core i9 family).
In addition, Apple says it has changed the material used by the MacBook Pro's keyboard, often a target of criticism in recent years, to cut down on double-typing. It also say that both the new MacBook Pros and older models featuring a butterfly switch keyboard design will be covered by its keyboard repair program, and that it's working to improve keyboard repair processes at Apple Stores.
Some context: Apple's Mac revenue totaled $25.5 billion in fiscal 2018 (it ended last September), and the company is expected see a similar amount of Mac revenue in fiscal 2019. And last October, as his company unveiled new MacBook Air and Mac Mini models, CEO Tim Cook disclosed that the Mac active installed base had (in spite of little to no Mac revenue growth in the prior years) topped 100 million, up from 80 million in mid-2014.
At its upcoming WWDC conference on June 3, Apple reportedly plans to unveil a macOS refresh that will let developers easily re-write iPad apps to work on Macs. The company is also reportedly working on developing ARM-architecture processors that could go inside of Macs as soon as next year -- such a move would open the door to letting the same app run across macOS and iOS devices.
In the meantime, however, Apple isn't ignoring nuts-and-bolts Mac improvements to keep its base satisfied.