Late on Tuesday the online Apple Store was down, leading to speculation that a MacBook Pro refresh could be imminent. The store reopened soon after, with no change, however, according to sources Ivy Bridge has been bought forward to 23 April, and Apple is expected to be the first manufacturer to launch an Ivy Bridge-equipped laptop, and Intel is said to have finished work on a new Thunderbolt controller, that could appear in the new MacBook Pro. 

Authorised Apple resellers are suffering from low 15in MacBook Pro stock, which suggests that Apple is slowing production of the current MacBook Pro line-up in preparation for a redesigned MacBook Pro launch, according to Apple Insider.

Amazon UK has 'order soon' warnings on most of its MacBook Pro models, and Apple Insider reports that many resellers in the US have low stock, including Best Buy and J&R.

The report suggests that Apple could be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro range, with the 15in model taking priority over the 13in and 17in MacBook Pros, which could be updated later in the year.

The new 15in MacBook Pro could arrive before the end of this month, and the Apple Store's downtime could be seen as evidence of this theory, despite the Store being back online with no apparent changes.

The redesigned MacBook Pro could look more like Apple's MacBook Air, and optical drives and traditional hard disk drives could be scrapped altogether, in favour of solid-state drives (SSDs). This would enable the MacBook Pro to be thinner than the current line-up.

The new MacBook Pros are likely to be powered by the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors, which are also due for the release this month.

Interestingly, Apple appears to have updated its "We'll be back" sign, getting rid of the yellow post-it note in favour of a simpler grey design.