Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists

Matthew Panzarino (Hacker News, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Slashdot):

“Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops,” Cook wrote. “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.”


No mention of whether that meant iMac or Mac Pro or both, but at the very least it’s encouraging to those of us who couldn’t live without a desktop computer.

Marco Arment:

Reading between the lines: the Mac Pro is very likely dead. To Tim Cook, the iMac is the desktop, period.

Chris Adamson notes that the statement came on the third anniversary of the last Mac Pro update.

John Gruber:

I’ll note that Cook only calls out the 5K iMac — no mention of the Mac Pro.

Stephen Hackett:

He didn’t mention the Mac mini or Mac Pro. I’m sure he’s aware how long in the tooth they are, and praising them at this point would have been seen as a little ridiculous.

Mark Gurman (MacRumors, Hacker News, Slashdot, TidBITS, ArsTechnica):

Interviews with people familiar with Apple’s inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company’s software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.


Four years ago at Apple’s annual developer conference, marketing chief Phil Schiller pledged to keep the computer front and center in the company’s product arsenal. “Nobody turns over their entire line as quickly and completely as we do at Apple,” Schiller said.


In the run-up to the MacBook Pro’s planned debut this year, the new battery failed a key test, according to a person familiar with the situation. Rather than delay the launch and risk missing the crucial holiday shopping season, Apple decided to revert to an older design. The change required roping in engineers from other teams to finish the job, meaning work on other Macs languished, the person said.


In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there’s no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.


Mac fans shouldn’t hold their breath for radical new designs in 2017 though. Instead, the company is preparing modest updates: USB-C ports and a new Advanced Micro Devices Inc. graphics processor for the iMac, and minor bumps in processing power for the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. Cue the outrage.

Dell (via Hacker News):

With the UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD display (3840 x 2160), you can see each detail of every pixel without needing to zoom in. And with 6 million more pixels than Full HD and 3 million more than the MacBook Pro, you can edit images with pinpoint accuracy without worrying about blurriness or jagged lines.


The most powerful XPS laptop we’ve ever built includes the latest 7th Gen [Kaby Lake] Intel® Quad Core™ processors and an optional 4GB GeForce® GTX 1050 graphics card with the latest and greatest Pascal™ architecture, so you can blaze through your most intensive tasks.


Supports up to 32GB of memory with a bandwidth of 2133MHz, 1.3 times the speed of 1600MHz options.

Previously: New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac, Understanding Apple’s Marginalization of the Mac.

Update (2016-12-21): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2016-12-22): Stephen Hackett:

None of these snapshots are due to an inherent flaw with the Mac itself, but with how Apple seemingly views it.

Update (2016-12-23): Lloyd Chambers:

Properly understood, the Bloomberg article is a damning indictment of the cultural change at Apple, at least if one admires true excellence and great (not just good enough) product design.


Apple’s working model for both hardware and software is now “ship by calendar”, not “ship by quality and excellence”.

Update (2017-01-02): See also: The Talk Show and Accidental Tech Podcast.

16 Comments RSS · Twitter

That Gurman report in particular was depressing (although it was interesting to discover the Mac delays were due to the MBP battery).

I hope they rethink this. I love my iPad and iPhone but they're just not my primary devices nor can they be. It is short sighted to spend so much focus on these nearly mature devices.

I never thought I'd say that, but... that Dell looks really good.

"In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there's no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team."

Well, this is understandable. Apple is a very small company, and it's obviously beyond their resources to have a dedicated Mac software team.

"That's part of a broader shift toward making Macs more like iPhones. Apple prioritizes features, like thinness and minimal ports, that sell its iPhones and iPads, which generated about 75 percent of revenue this year. Those are contrary to professional needs, like maximum computing power. Early prototypes of the 12-inch MacBook used the iPhone's Lightning connector, although this was ditched for a more standard USB-C port. There was even a gold MacBook Pro planned, but this was shelved because the color didn’t look good on such a large product."

Well, even though attention is flagging, at least they have their priorities straight! The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

"...you can see each detail of every pixel without needing to zoom in". What is that supposed to mean ? That sounds like the pixels are so huge, I can make out the individual RGB components ? :)

"That Gurman report in particular was depressing (although it was interesting to discover the Mac delays were due to the MBP battery)."

Yup. The Gurman story is the news here. It is indeed both very depressing, and very illuminating in explaining why things have gotten so very, very bad - both in software and hardware.

@Nat Yeah, they should have removed the “of every pixel.”

I'll just point out again that if you watch the October event, you'll see a slide which shows an iMac and some laptops. The mini and Mac Pro were absent, which I interpret as being evidence that they are essentially end-of-life'd.

> you can see each detail of every pixel without needing to zoom in

They're talking about image editing, so presumably, they're saying that the resolution of the screen is so high that it displays individual pixels of the image using one or more screen pixels. So you can see the individual image pixels of the image without having to zoom in (assuming that you have cyborg eyes and can actually see the tiny screen pixels).

My biggest complaint (well, it's equal to my complaints about slow upgrades) is Apple shutting us out of the innards. When I buy a Mac that is going to last me five years plus, but I can't even get inside and replace the original drive with the latest and greatest, when I can't upgrade the memory, that is telling me that design (who the heck needs a 'thin' iMac anyway) and/or some other petty factor is being used to justify keeping us out. And while I do enjoy the Jonny-inspired designs and such, I don't enjoy them so much that I'm eager to give up function for form.

Also, the dudes best start putting out computers capable to VR/AR or they will be left in dust within the next year or two.

They better do something fast or their ecosystem will become a monoculture of tablets and phones, and we won't even have anything to sync with. Which would not be good.

A slight aside. I wanted a big iPad Pro this year, and I waited patiently for version 2 to come out, you know, the one that should have all of the features of the current 9.7" model, plus a few improvements. But it never came out. So I bought the small one, because my old iPad was due for replacement, but I would have much preferred the big one. Except its been old for quite awhile now.

The big advantage I have over most of you is that I'm almost 70 and I won't have to put up with this stuff much longer. You youngsters better start looking at the alternatives.

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