The handwriting isn’t just on the wall for all to see. It’s in neon. And blinking. It’s time to say goodbye to a few Macs. How can I be so sure Apple won’t surprise the Mac faithful with a full line of new Macs in 2017?
Puhleeze. That’s not how Pipeline Timmy works. The first sign was the MacBook Pro, circa late 2016. It’s called a “Pro” but there’s very little about it that so-called Mac professionals like about the MacBook inspired and most expensive Mac notebooks. No user upgradeable anything. Compare that to the ancient cheese grater tank of a Mac, the Mac Pro from yesteryear in which just about everything could be upgraded except the case.
The rest of the Mac line is due for some attention but I’m afraid we may need to wait until next year. It looks as if Apple has only a few dozen really excellent and productive engineers and they get bounced around from product to product. The past few years they’ve been working on the iPhone and Watch, with a sidebar skunkworks project called AirPods. That means their focus has not been on improving the iPad or Mac.
How can we tell?
The Mac Pro was introduced with a little sass from marketing guru Phil Schiller back in 2013. “Can’t innovate, my ass” Schiller said as he strolled across the stage. Well, that was it. The Mac Pro hasn’t seen an upgrade of any kind since then. That was 2013. This is 2017. Mac users of the professional class were not too impressed then, and they’re less than impressed now because the Mac Pro isn’t fully upgradeable anyway, and hasn’t been upgraded anyway.
What’s with that, Apple?
The Mac mini and iMac lines have similar stories with few tweaks and changes here and there but definitely models both worthy and in need of upgrades. Part of the problem might be Intel, which has struggled to deliver the past few CPU upgrades on a timely basis, and even when they arrive the improvements are anemic at best.
Apple’s own A10 Fusion CPU found in the iPhone 7s, and the A9X CPUs in the iPad Pro models are roughly equivalent to the Intel M-series CPUs in the MacBook and other PC notebooks. And even the new batches of CPUs don’t do much more than the last batch and don’t add much performance anyway.
Nearly 70-percent of Apple’s record setting revenue and profits come from the iPhone. Not the Mac. Not the iPad. Not even the hobbies like Apple TV, or iPhone accessories like Watch or AirPods. Apple seems to work as if it has limited resources so it moves the appropriate engineering staff where it matters the most.
Last quarter the Mac sold in record numbers. Again. And that’s against the tide that is turning the entire PC industry into yesterday’s technological relics. The only bright spots among the Windows PC industry is Microsoft’s own touchscreen Surface models, and even that line of PCs went down during a quarter that should have yielded record sales (as did the Mac).
2017 will be the year we say goodbye to the MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and likely the Mac Pro. Why? It’s obvious they don’t sell in numbers that matter to Apple (although, to be fair, Apple does not divulge or break down Mac sales by model– but if they were good, wouldn’t Apple say something to help increase sales of models that so obviously don’t get any engineering love?).
There was a time when Apple and the Mac were synonymous. Those days are long gone. Apple is the iPhone company.