Why the Retina MacBook Pro is the Last Mac I'll Ever Buy

Despite my post earlier this week arguing against this, I will indeed be picking up a new MacBook Pro with Retina display as soon as possible. I still stand by my advice -- Apple's newest portable Mac is an absolute thing of beauty, but it’s not exactly the most cost-effective laptop in the lineup. Still, this is one of those times when desire trumps practicality.

After all, I figure it's OK to splurge on what is likely to be the last Mac I ever buy.

Now hear me out -- it's not like I'm going to run out and buy an Acer running Windows 8. By the time I'm ready for a new workstation, I figure one of two things will have happened:

a) The iPad will become powerful enough to handle all of my computing needs, or

b) Apple will release a hybrid iOS-OS X operating system and a whole new line of devices for it to run on.

For the past 12 years (foolishly, I used a ThinkPad during my college career), I've always owned a pair of Macs, one for my desk and one for the road. Back in 2001, that was a Power Mac G4 and an iBook. Those were followed by a Titanium PowerBook, a 17-inch PowerBook, and an iMac G4. And since 2008 I’ve been piloting an Intel iMac and a MacBook Air.

My MacBook Air's been through the wringer. I spilled a piping hot cup of coffee on it, and while I was replacing the keyboard myself, I cracked both hinges and the backlighting never worked again. It's still lasted through four more years of abuse, but these days I turn to it less and less for my mobile needs. Plus, it won't be able to run Mountain Lion, which is pretty important in my line of work.

But I'm not buying the Retina MacBook to replace the aging Air whose battery indicator has read "Replace Now" for several weeks. I'm buying it to take the place of the even-older iMac that sits on my desk. Simply put, I don't need to take my Mac with me anymore. I have an iPad.

Four years ago, when I bought the Air to complement my iMac, the iPad was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye. Tim Cook has already told us we shouldn't expect new desktops until sometime next year, but I can't imagine Apple making us wait all that time just for case redesigns and retina screens. There's something beyond the iPad that "completes the story," as Steve once said, and in 2016, when I'm ready to hang up my Retina MacBook, I don't think I'll be buying another pretty box with a keyboard attached to it.

Apple's grand post-PC plan is only starting to come into view, and a future where iOS and OS X eventually merge into a single operating system that scales for multiple devices is no longer inconceivable. When I bought my Air in 2008, Apple was already skating to the iPad; now that WWDC has passed, Jonathan Ive and Co. must be dreaming up things mere mortals couldn't possibly imagine.

A brilliant marriage of form and function, the Retina MacBook might be the most perfect laptop ever made. Apple called it the next generation. But it's hard not to think that, for me anyway, it's also the last.