updated 12:20 pm EDT, Sun August 14, 2011
Auction shows Apple had tested 3G MacBook Pro
A still-ongoing eBay auction has validated suspicions that Apple has been testing 3G-capable Macs for years. The 2007-era MacBook Pro prototype, originally bought off of Craigslist for parts, has a built-in Dynastream ANT2USB modem modified to fit in the aluminum chassis. It includes not just the necessary SIM card slot for the HSPA 3G access but a retractable antenna that would sit flush with one corner of the display.
Software support also clearly exists for the modem. Even in Snow Leopard, which shipped two years after the prototype had been made, the modem shows up in the system profile and is listed as a network option in System Preferences.
The model is listed as "Tyco proto #006" and shows signs of being strictly an internal project, including a distinct red mainboard color and custom rewiring. It also lacks the EMC number common to other models.
The auction stands a chance of being forced shut before bidding completes. If it does go through, owners will be on their own, both because of the custom design but because elements like a third-party battery and hard drive had to be installed to make it work.
Apple chief Steve Jobs had downplayed the idea of Macs with 3G in 2008 owing largely to worries about locking notebook owners into a particular carrier. Whether or not the company has shelved the idea is still uncertain. Even recent polls have suggested the company is asking about the possibility for future systems. The MacBook Air's rising popularity has increased calls for 3G and 4G as the notebooks are heavily dependent on the Internet and will soon have the option of iCloud. [via MacRumors]