The people who buy Apple Powerbooks have always been divided by size. As someone who spends half his life in airports hunting for power sockets, and on airplanes carefully hoarding every last minute of battery life, I bought a 12" Powerbook and I'm still hoping that the rumours of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Others, who seem to demand a desktop in a (very big) bag would buy the 17" preference to the trim 12". I'm sure they have their reasons.
Fraser Speirs speculates on one possible future for the PowerBook line, with Apple taking advantage of the two core laptop demographics. The road warriors, who would kill for another half hour of battery, or half a kilogram less of laptop, and the power users who desperately want another couple of inches of screen real estate, and another hundred gigabytes of hard drive.
I'd buy into his future, I especially like his idea of dumping the internal optical drive, although I'd settle for the weight saving instead of a second battery. With almost ubiquitous wireless networking when you're on the go, I can't remember the last time I actually used the built-in DVD drive on my Powerbook. Dropping the hard drive in exchange instant on flash memory would increase the battery life sufficiently surely, and yet again lower the weight, and I'd more that toy with the idea of a built-in 3G modem. Yes, I'd buy into Fraser's future, buy the question has to be, will Apple?
Update: Blogging the January Macworld keynote live...
Update: More details of the new MacBook, including a 15 minute video from the floor of Macworld.