John Gruber of Daring Fireball recently speculated that Apple may be planning a minor rebrand of its portables, dubbing the entry level white model "Macbook," whilst renaming the 13-inch aluminum model a "Macbook Pro", making the entire unibody lineup "pros".
Currently, the white Macbook is all but forgotten - it's no longer mentioned on the main Apple site, and hardly featured in the Apple Store. But with recent changes in market conditions, combined with Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" campaign putting pressure on Apple's pricing strategy, now may be a good time to review the entry-level end of Apple's portable lineup.
The current white Macbook model is really a hold-over from the previous polycarbonate Macbook line. It doesn't possess recent Apple revisions such as the glossy black bezel, black keyboard and glass trackpad. In happier times, Apple may have been planning to phase this model out altogether, but the credit crunch, combined with the popularity of netbooks may well be causing the company to review this strategy.
An alternative option would be to introduce a more competitively priced entry level model, that differentiates itself from the Macbook Pro range (including the re-named 13-inch model). To do this, the new Macbook could sport a 12-inch screen, and white polycarbonate case. But it could still inherit some nice perks, like the glass trackpad, black keyboard and glossy bezel. At a price of, say $599, this could fly off the shelves, without excessive cannibalization of the 13-inch Macbook Pro's sales.
Such a machine could still be a decent computer, without the kinds of awkward compromises inherent in a netbook. It seems a more plausible entry-level play from Apple than the rumored 10-inch tablet.