Prototype MacBook Pro Equipped with 3G Cellular Modem Discovered on eBay
It’s not too unusual to find an unreleased Apple prototype on eBay now and again, but recently a MacBook Pro was put up for sale with one unique feature, an integrated 3G cellular modem. A few years ago, Apple was rumored to be working on a 3G capable MacBook, but it was never released. It now seems evident that Apple has, at the very least, looked into the possibility of a producing a 3G equipped MacBook Pro.
According to the seller, “This auction is for a particularly unique and interesting piece of Apple hardware: an unreleased pre-production prototype of the 2007 15" MacBook Pro Santa Rosa laptop with red circuit boards and integrated cellular data functionality. It is to my knowledge one of a kind, I have been unable to find information about any other similar machines in existence.”
Back in 2008, Steve Jobs reportedly said the main reason Apple laptops do not include a 3G cellular modem was because they did not want to restrict consumers to a particular carrier. Customers can always use a USB modem if they want to. This particular MacBook Pro prototype uses a Dynastream ANT2USB card that can, in theory, connect to a GSM network such as AT&T.
In regards to cellular wireless features the seller clearly states, “I have unfortunately been unable to get it working with my SIM card, though it is seen by the operating system and recognized as a modem device usable to connect to the internet with various configuration options. It is entirely possible it can be made to work by someone with more software and driver experience than myself but I can make no guarantees. It could be that there was an additional board originally that was not included with this machine, or that Apple could not work out a contract with a carrier for data service (Perhaps AT&T did not want something sure to be a bandwidth hog on its network), or simply that no driver exists.”
At this point, it seems unlikely that Apple will ever include a 3G or 4G cellular data modem in a MacBook. The iPhone can now be tethered to a laptop if you pay for the privilege. There is no real reason for Apple to go to the trouble of developing a 3G MacBook at this time. It would have been nice it they had though.
The bidding for this rare bit of Apple history is currently up to $10,000.99, at the time of this writing. Better hurry, or it’ll be gone forever.