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By Dan Moren for Macworld
When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, one of his early moves was to vastly simplify what had become a bloated line-up of Mac hardware. Jobs famously showed off a two-by-two product grid: pro and consumer, desktop and portable. Filling the grid were four products–iMac, PowerMac, iBook, PowerBook–each addressing one of those combinations.
The two-by-two grid lasted for several years, until the debut of the category-busting Mac mini in 2005. Since then, there’s been an almost magnetic impulse to cite the grid as the holy grail of Apple product design aspirations. Every time Apple releases something a new Mac, pundits try desperately to figure out how to shove the latest addition into the already bulging grid.
With this week’s rearrangement of its portable lineup, Apple has gotten both closer to and farther away from that product grid ideal–if indeed it’s even an ideal that Apple should be striving for anymore. But what the new lineup does point out is that there’s a puzzling imbalance in the company’s Mac offerings.