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derFunkenstein
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Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 4:57 pm

When the latest MacBook Pro launched in October, pretty much everyone in the TR comments was down on the updated notebook. The prevailing sense among the commentariat (including me) is that Apple has let the Mac languish because its PC line doesn't represent a big enough chunk of the companies sales. Some (ahem) went so far as to say that Apple sees the Mac as merely a tool for creating iOS software, so why bother? Maybe the TR audience is still the smartest one in the game, backed up by a recent Bloomberg report.

The article has some interesting (and damning) anecdotes from anonymous Apple insiders. The most interesting one might be the story of how Jony Ive's team of designers have seemingly pulled out of Mac design. There's no end of stale models in Apple's desktop stable, to be certain. The 27" iMac is the only Apple desktop with a Skylake CPU. The Mac Mini, by contrast, is still packing a dual-core Haswell design, and the Mac Pro is almost old enough to vote.

Those designers, the story goes, have focused more of their time, energy, and resources on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. I personally find even that laughable, though. How hard can it be to keep the same basic design for three years? iPads even languish, with the most recent release being the 9.7" iPad Pro. 2015's larger iPad Pro and smaller iPad Mini 4 (itself based on year-old hardware) still sit on store shelves refusing to budge on their prices. More realistic to me is another anecdote in which multiple, competing ideas are fleshed out fully, requiring double the work for engineers trying to get by while simultaneously receiving less and less attention from the company.

On the other hand, Bloomberg says the company has spent more time on the mobile devices' operating system than it has macOS. As a daily user of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, that seems pretty obvious. The Mac has received iOS also-rans like a years-behind Siri implementation and gotchas that require more Apple hardware like screen unlock via Apple Watch. Outside of that, Apple seemingly hasn't cared much for its once-revolutionary desktop OS.

So anyway, the story is interesting. It's no secret that Apple hasn't given the Mac the attention it deserved and as a result the platform isn't aging well. Go read it if you're bored. If you thought this post was long, the actual story is far longer.
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:06 pm

The fact that Apple has been neglecting Macs certainly isn't news. However, I didn't realize the depths to which Apple had gone organizationally to make sure that Mac development was thrown under the bus. The fact that there basically isn't a business unit with its own budget and direction that is devoted to either the Mac hardware or to making sure MacOS stays relevant is pretty startling. Basically it looks like a whole bunch of pigs competing for the sow's attention and the Mac unit has been made the runt of the litter.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:12 pm

Worse, the runt of the litter is apparently forced to come up with competing ideas and spend tons of time and energy on both of them. The anecdote about the MacBook design really showed me that from the very top (Timmeh) on down, nobody at Apple has any idea what to do. No singular vision, and a ton of wasted resources. Pretty soon they'll port the iOS portion of Xcode to Linux and just dump the Mac entirely, because they're going to dump it on the floor like a freshly-frosted cake.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:13 pm

It's short-term thinking and it's going to get Apple in trouble. Sure, the PC business is small compared to everything else, but that's partially because it's been starved of resources.

Apple now is a widget company, and sure, widgets are profitable.... but RIM/Blackberry can tell you all about how the new hotness widget can't sustain a company for even a decade.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:16 pm

 I myself wouldn't want to live in a Walled Garden anyway, but I don't like Apple hardware options. Seriously, having to buy dongles to get the same functionality a cheap notebook will get me? From the looks of things Apple seems not to want power users. 
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:19 pm

I kinda get the dongle thing (USB C is the future!), but seriously, would it have killed them to include a Type A port or two? Especially considering two of the four ports on the 13" model have "reduced PCI Express bandwidth" to begin with.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:52 pm

I don't think there is a whole lot to say that hasn't been said before on this topic. I'm also a daily macOS user, and it's seriously painful the state at which the OS and the hardware are found in at this point. MacOS is a great open-source dev platform (y'know, for stuff that isn't Windows based) and I have a hard time believing there isn't someone at Apple that knows that. Most devs I know these days that work in software, work on an Apple machine for their work machine.

There is plenty of opportunity for Apple to capture a portion of the market that makes them profitable. They don't have to over-engineer everything the way the new rMBP is. They need to get back to what made the MBP awesome.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:56 pm

Also a daily Mac user at the day job, and have concluded its down to idiots at the top, and Kool Aid all the way down. Seems to be working from just momentum, though.

Also not convinced that the Mac is the most neglected, the iPod is in a state too.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:59 pm

The iPod Touch was a transitional thing, I think. Something that did 90% of the iPhone at a lower price, and it helped get the App Store off the ground. But the iPod has been killed by the smartphone - not just Apple's, but everyone's. "Nobody" (meaning only a statistically insignificant portion of the population) really wants to carry two devices.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:05 pm

A recent Ars article...

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2016/12/re ... an-before/

Edit: To be fair, they don't have to do much to the iPod to make a new one...at least following the formula they were following for a while.

1. Develop the iPhone and iOS
2. Take out the phone parts of the phone and iOS
3. Sell iPod for 350 dollars and 16GB of SSD space
4. PROFIT!!!
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:12 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
When the latest MacBook Pro launched in October, pretty much everyone in the TR comments was down on the updated notebook.
Man, you should have seen the backlash on reddit. Of course, reddit being reddit, it was fire and brimstone and end of days.

As for Mac laptops, desktops, and mini-tops languishing while the iOS devices get all the attention - that kind of makes perfect sense to me. iOS devices are filling the coffers with cash. Conversely, all the years spent making fantastic, beautiful laptops and innovative workstations barely moved the needle in terms of market penetration for OS X. So where we are today seems like the obvious, natural outcome of events up to this point.

Honestly, if all of Apple's efforts to make OS X a fantastic platform have not brought commensurate success, it just doesn't make sense to keep trying so hard. Just a few tweaks each year, an updated processor every now and then, enough to keep the Mac faithful from starving to death. The 2016 MBP is a bit of a stumble, but Apple seems pretty good at recovering from most missteps. On the workstation front, I have to think the market there is pretty small and just keeps getting smaller. Apple might not see the point - I sure don't. My current desktop will likely be the last desktop I ever own. I probably won't upgrade it again. Haswell is probably the end of the desktop road for me. Computing is going mobile in every way possible; if it's not mobile it's infrastructure stuff. As much as TR makes fun of people saying the desktop is dead, well, it's got it's devotees but I think it really is in a long, slow decline. Even while sales of high powered graphics cards are as good as ever, the average joe types are moving away from desktops. I don't think anyone in my extended family has bought a desktop for a few years now.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:19 pm

flip-mode wrote:
Just a few tweaks each year, an updated processor every now and then, enough to keep the Mac faithful from starving to death. The 2016 MBP is a bit of a stumble...


If only they were doing that. The new MBPs don't even have Kaby Lake, which by all accounts would have been a very good choice for Apple laptops, but they just COULDN'T wait for supply. The Mini and Pro are years out of date. The dongle hell that is the new MBP is really, really terrible. They talk about a 5K screen like it's the coming of Jesus.

They're just not doing enough to keep those faithful macOS users in the ecosystem anymore. Windows laptops are actually good these days, too. I'm guessing the next numbers we see for their quarterly results will see quite a drop off in MBP sales.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:23 pm

DancinJack wrote:

That's just quoting the same Bloomberg article above.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:25 pm

I know, but they added their own thoughts a bit. I thought it was worth linking.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:26 pm

flip-mode wrote:
Just a few tweaks each year, an updated processor every now and then, enough to keep the Mac faithful from starving to death. The 2016 MBP is a bit of a stumble, but Apple seems pretty good at recovering from most missteps. On the workstation front, I have to think the market there is pretty small and just keeps getting smaller. Apple might not see the point - I sure don't. My current desktop will likely be the last desktop I ever own. I probably won't upgrade it again. Haswell is probably the end of the desktop road for me. Computing is going mobile in every way possible; if it's not mobile it's infrastructure stuff. As much as TR makes fun of people saying the desktop is dead, well, it's got it's devotees but I think it really is in a long, slow decline. Even while sales of high powered graphics cards are as good as ever, the average joe types are moving away from desktops. I don't think anyone in my extended family has bought a desktop for a few years now.

All that pretty iOS software has to get written somewhere, and if Apple just "doesn't see the point" in continuing the Mac, they have to do something to make sure their bread and butter cash cow can keep on producing that sweet, sweet milk.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:37 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
All that pretty iOS software has to get written somewhere, and if Apple just "doesn't see the point" in continuing the Mac, they have to do something to make sure their bread and butter cash cow can keep on producing that sweet, sweet milk.


I thought that was a good point the Bloomberg article made..the fact that all that iOS software, at least right now, is written on Macs. If Apple doesn't do something to keep THOSE people in the ecosystem it opens up opportunities for Android/other devices to slip into their pockets.

That really is the best benefit of the whole Apple ecosystem, too. If all your computers are Macs, and your phones, and your ipads, Apple does make life pretty easy as far as having all the data from those accessible on each other. They're going to lose that connection if they don't pick up their Mac game.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:35 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
The iPod Touch was a transitional thing, I think. Something that did 90% of the iPhone at a lower price, and it helped get the App Store off the ground.

My wife had one, and I thought it was really a great device, actually - all the app functionality, and we used it with my Skype account for phone calls when on wifi. I think it'd be the perfect device to give a teenager, rather than a full (and much more expensive) phone.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:50 pm

Well good news for you Apple desktop fans:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/tim ... for-apple/
I hope for Apple's sake they ditch the "trashcan" and go back to the standard tower for the Mac Pro.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:05 am

DancinJack wrote:
I'm also a daily macOS user, and it's seriously painful the state at which the OS and the hardware are found in at this point.

While the hardware lineup is a bit of a disaster, macOS is a solid product.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:13 am

I get so pissed off when I read about how poor the state of Mac hardware is today. This has peen a problem for a decade or more! I ditched Mac OS X entirely back in the days of the Q6600 due to the absolutely attrocious lack of decent Mac desktop hardware at the time.

Thing started to look brighter back in 2012, when Apple released the quad core Mac mini, but that was just a blip on an otherwise steep downward spiral of just more crap.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:17 am

whm1974 wrote:
Well good news for you Apple desktop fans:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/tim ... for-apple/
I hope for Apple's sake they ditch the "trashcan" and go back to the standard tower for the Mac Pro.

The only "desktop" Tim mentioned in that interview was the 5K iMac. Have you priced out a decent spec of one of those fracking things?
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:36 am

End User wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
Well good news for you Apple desktop fans:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/tim ... for-apple/
I hope for Apple's sake they ditch the "trashcan" and go back to the standard tower for the Mac Pro.

The only "desktop" Tim mentioned in that interview was the 5K iMac.  Have you priced out a decent spec of one of those fracking things?

Once. I forgot how much it was, but it was more then I am willing to pay. On top of this I'm not very likely to buy a AIO computer anyway.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:38 am

End User wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
Well good news for you Apple desktop fans:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/tim ... for-apple/
I hope for Apple's sake they ditch the "trashcan" and go back to the standard tower for the Mac Pro.

The only "desktop" Tim mentioned in that interview was the 5K iMac.  Have you priced out a decent spec of one of those fracking things?

It's not prohibitively expensive, if you are willing to pay for a "cute" form factor and don't care about the constraints. Since I do care about the constraints, why would I buy that? What's the point of paying $2-3k for a CPU that is, in absolute term, a regression compared with my FX-8350? And don't even ask about the RX-480...
I never really got the point of very slim, very small devices anyway. If you have to carry it, of course. If it's for a living room, of course. But a desk these days is not much more than a place to put a computer. Who cares about having a tower by their feet? What is the problem with that?
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:47 am

ptsant wrote:
End User wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
Well good news for you Apple desktop fans:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/tim ... for-apple/
I hope for Apple's sake they ditch the "trashcan" and go back to the standard tower for the Mac Pro.

The only "desktop" Tim mentioned in that interview was the 5K iMac.  Have you priced out a decent spec of one of those fracking things?

It's not prohibitively expensive, if you are willing to pay for a "cute" form factor and don't care about the constraints. Since I do care about the constraints, why would I buy that? What's the point of paying $2-3k for a CPU that is, in absolute term, a regression compared with my FX-8350? And don't even ask about the RX-480...
I never really got the point of very slim, very small devices anyway. If you have to carry it, of course. If it's for a living room, of course. But a desk these days is not much more than a place to put a computer. Who cares about having a tower by their feet? What is the problem with that?

Did you just call a 6700k a "regression" from an FX-8350?  Because you can get a 6700k in a 5k iMac...
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:25 pm

techguy wrote:
ptsant wrote:
End User wrote:
The only "desktop" Tim mentioned in that interview was the 5K iMac.  Have you priced out a decent spec of one of those fracking things?

It's not prohibitively expensive, if you are willing to pay for a "cute" form factor and don't care about the constraints. Since I do care about the constraints, why would I buy that? What's the point of paying $2-3k for a CPU that is, in absolute term, a regression compared with my FX-8350? And don't even ask about the RX-480...
I never really got the point of very slim, very small devices anyway. If you have to carry it, of course. If it's for a living room, of course. But a desk these days is not much more than a place to put a computer. Who cares about having a tower by their feet? What is the problem with that?

Did you just call a 6700k a "regression" from an FX-8350?  Because you can get a 6700k in a 5k iMac...

I was mistaken. I thought they had the low-power variants in the iMacs. It is kinda impressive that they managed to put a full 90W CPU inside the thing. To be honest, only the rMBP is of relevance to me, but as a hardware enthusiast I should have known better.
:roll:
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:21 pm

ptsant wrote:
techguy wrote:
Did you just call a 6700k a "regression" from an FX-8350?  Because you can get a 6700k in a 5k iMac...

I was mistaken. I thought they had the low-power variants in the iMacs. It is kinda impressive that they managed to put a full 90W CPU inside the thing. To be honest, only the rMBP is of relevance to me, but as a hardware enthusiast I should have known better.
:roll:

It is impressive, the top end iMac, in 'most every way (memory being the exception).

The CPU in the 27" goes up to the Core i7-6700K as techguy pointed out, and they're generally good -- per Wikipedia the 21" goes up to the i7-5775R, and previous models have had i7-4790K, i7-4771, i7-3770, i7-2600, i7-870 ... and decent C2D's back to Early 2008 models.

Before then, they were kinda anaemic, and the base CPUs aren't super special, but you can do proper work on a fully-configured iMac, for a few years.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:51 pm

My comments hating the Macbook and lack of Apple's direction in OSX hardware are not really my own opinions; I don't really use or want or have need of OSX hardware at all.

I speak for the absolutely huge demographic of artists, designers, hipsters, Apple zealots and like-minded people that I work with. They all hate the direction Apple are going in because they are being snubbed and financially squeezed to the point of ridicule and insult. There is just no valid reason to hand money over to Apple for anything other than a iOS device these days, from what I'm seeing and hearing. These people are Apple's hardcore target market, and they're just not feeling it since Cook took over.

What's cool in tech these days?

  • VR
  • Accessible gaming and eSports.
  • Drones
  • AR
  • Open-ended experimental computing like the Arduino / Raspberry Pi / Compute Stick
  • Seamless cloud-based web apps and features that follow you across multiple platforms

Apple doesn't even bother trying in these markets. It has stuck to the "expensive media consumption" device model that propped it up half a decade ago.
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:27 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
My comments hating the Macbook and lack of Apple's direction in OSX hardware are not really my own opinions; I don't really use or want or have need of OSX hardware at all.

I speak for the absolutely huge demographic of artists, designers, hipsters, Apple zealots and like-minded people that I work with. They all hate the direction Apple are going in because they are being snubbed and financially squeezed to the point of ridicule and insult. There is just no valid reason to hand money over to Apple for anything other than a iOS device these days, from what I'm seeing and hearing. These people are Apple's hardcore target market, and they're just not feeling it since Cook took over.

What's cool in tech these days?

  • VR
  • Accessible gaming and eSports.
  • Drones
  • AR
  • Open-ended experimental computing like the Arduino / Raspberry Pi / Compute Stick
  • Seamless cloud-based web apps and features that follow you across multiple platforms

Apple doesn't even bother trying in these markets. It has stuck to the "expensive media consumption" device model that propped it up half a decade ago.

If memory serves, aren't these the folks that built the Mac brand? I remember back in the late 80's and early to mid 90's that if you wanted to do media creation and photo editing, the Mac was the platform to get. The only the thing that was remotely better was the Amiga and the more the way more costly SGI Unix workstations.
 
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:51 pm

Yes, Apple has abandoned the very same people that rocketed it to stardom in the early 1980s and saved it from bankruptcy in the late 1990s
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Re: Apple's (lack of) Mac ambitions

Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:03 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
Yes, Apple has abandoned the very same people that rocketed it to stardom in the early 1980s and saved it from bankruptcy in the late 1990s

My prediction: In less than ten years, Apple will be a subsidiary of Foxconn/Hon Hai.

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