Apple’s ‘Hello Again’ Event Wasn’t About the Mac After All

| Editorial

During Apple’s “Hello Again” event, Apple spent an hour and 25 minutes talking about several cool things. The new MacBook Pros are very nice—but they were the only major Mac announcement.  In contrast, the event tagline suggested that Apple would say something important about the “Mac” as a product. Instead, the vacuum persisted and Apple elected to take a stand on how it sees the MacBook Pro catering to the pro market with the Touch Bar.

2016 MacBook Pro

The context sensitive OLED Touch Bar was the highlight of the event. Image credit: Apple

The first thing I noted during this event was the apparent filler as Tim Cook updated us on the success of the iPhone 7. It seemed like something that was inserted to fill the time. That’s wasn’t exactly the way to wake up an audience, onsite and via streaming, who knew all that already.

The next thing I noticed was that the new “TV” app from Apple, while terrific and long awaited didn’t seem to fit in with Apple’s tagline either. The first part of the event felt like a kitchen sink approach. Finally, I started feeling hardware starved. It’s beginning to look like we won’t be getting a 4K/UHD/HDR Apple TV for the holidays. Sigh…

Good-Bye Again

My colleague Bryan Chaffin brilliantly commented that this event felt more like a “Good-bye” event. By that I mean–and I’m doing my own take on his observation–that a boatload of questions were left unanswered.

  • Why was there no mention of the iMac line? The 21.5-inch iMac could use an update to Skylake and Thunderbolt 3.
  • What’s the fate of the Mac mini?
  • What’s the fate of the Mac Pro?

By discussing the MacBook Pro only, Apple seemed to be saying, “We never intended, nor do we need, to talk about anything else.” Unsatisfying.

Evidently, we are to take Apple’s silence on other Mac matters as a statement of steadfast indifference.

Walls Closing In

Conversely, Apple seemed to focus almost to exclusion on the new Touch Bar. While very cool and a technical line in the sand that Apple customers just don’t want to reach out and touch their notebook display, did it merit such extensive coverage? Again, I felt hardware starved, especially since Apple insists on making 16 GB of RAM the maximum available in its MBPs.

Another way I felt hardware starved is that a “pro” machine has to have lots of connections to peripheral equipment. True, the USB-C hub market has developed thanks to the 12-inch MacBook, but the a 15-inch quad-core MacBook Pro is more likely to be connected to a large external display. Apple discontinued its own 27-inch Thunderbolt display, and Phil Schiller left us to ponder the idea of just the LG display with USB-C connectors. What if that’s not the display a user wants? Again, hardware starvation and technical closed doors seems to be the theme.

2016 MacBook Pro with LG displays.

Phil Schiller shows your new pro workspace. Image credit: Apple

Finally, the feeling we all at TMO got during this presentation is that Apple just doesn’t see a future in powerful desktop Macs. If you are a technical or creative professional, a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar is going to be your thing. If that doesn’t do the trick, there’s little recourse available in the rest of the product line. You’ll need to turn elsewhere.

This event didn’t seem calibrated to address a “Hello again” audience who, I think, expected a broad range of solutions from a brilliant hardware company.

28 Comments Add a comment

  1. masterconductor

    Spot on, John. New Mac Mini?! New Mac Pro?! Updates to the Air?! This was just one big meh. Hey Apple, wake up–stop wasting your time on the Apple Car and start making some products people actually care about.

  2. JustCause

    With only 16GB there has to be something else like a Mac Pro released in Jan 2017. SSD have reduced the need for RAM but not eliminated it, and as a pro user I want to have 2-4 VMs going and my standard OS. iMac should be early December., maybe the 6th.

    Apple will never release everything at the same time because the value of media releases.

  3. It also looked to me that things were different than originally planned when Phil Schiller fumbled a bit through his first stint on stage. Then I thought a new Apple TV would arrive, and was disappointed that it was just a new TV app. (At least Siri’s capabilities were expanding—albeit slowly.) During the MacBook presentation I began to wonder if a new Mac keyboard—with Touch Bar—would be available for desktop Macs. My wallet was half-way out…but alas, no. (At least not for now.) Such a keyboard, along with speed & spec bumps for desktop Macs, would improve sales there. Here’s the fabled hardware company, sales of which form a huge part of their revenue, with just a partial rev of their hardware offerings for their biggest sales quarter. Sigh.

  4. How disappointing. I’m totally open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, but this is pathetic. I doubt I’ll get a Surface Studio, either, but there are much better options than any of the available Macs on the other side of the fence. What has happened to this once amazing company? Burberry and iPhones? Is Apple officially just a ‘lifestyle’ company now? Is it true that at this point they have used up all the sauce that Steve Jobs left them with? Again, very disappointing, and you know it’s bad when people like us, their longtime and ardent supporters are thinking of switching to freaking *Windows* just to get our work done. Ridiculous. :/

  5. Old UNIX Guy

    OK, everyone … if you hear about an earthquake in California don’t panic. It was just Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave.

    That was a truly pitiful event … and would have been even if they hadn’t raised expectations with the whole “Hello again” thing.

    Pathetic.

    I do have to congratulate Tim Cook, however … he went thru that whole pathetic excuse of a special event with a straight face and without being red-faced with embarrassment. If I were him, I could’ve done neither of those things.

  6. paikinho

    I was so waiting on the 5th Gen Apple TV. Looks like Apple won’t be getting my money for now. And where is an update for the larger iPad Pro to include what the smaller version has and more?

    These are 2 things I was ready to part with cash for. Now I will have to wait…. what… until spring or next fall?

    Gaaack.

  7. paikinho

    “During the MacBook presentation I began to wonder if a new Mac keyboard—with Touch Bar—would be available for desktop Macs”

    I hadn’t thought of that, but I truly would spring for such a thing.
    I also would spend some for the expanded Touchpad with the newer tech.

    Where the heck is the hardware Apple? It is as if they hare losing a bit of focus or something. I would love for my older mac to be infused with newer touch technology. Apple needs to think more creatively about its existing customers or it might begin to lose a few from gross neglect.

  8. Normally I would have paid already for a new MacBook pro, and be waiting on delivery. I was hoping for a more revolutionary product (see Surface Studio) vs evolutionary product. Sadly I think I am taking a pass at this time on a new MacBook pro. My portable work device (surface pro 4) has had sixth gen i7 processor all this year and the same max ram as the new pro. The loss of MagSafe is horrible, as it has saved me from “Laptop death” more than once. Also this new machine is adapter-holic! I need adapters for everything so a USB hub is mandatory carry now.

  9. archimedes

    I agree it was an extreme waste of the “hello again” tag, which implied something as significant as the original Mac (“hello.”) or the iMac (“hello (again)” – very disappointing marketing, Apple!

    Of course I like the new MacBook Pro (though still stuck at 16GB unfortunately 🙁 ) but I agree completely that this wasn’t a “hello”-worthy Mac event.

  10. I have no doubt that this wasn’t hyped as “A NEW BEGINNING FOR MACS” because they want to know that the TouchBar will be accepted (From early hands-on feedback by fairly skeptical reviewers, I looks like it will.)

    It’s really obvious that the next iMacs will support a TouchBar on their keyboards, as will Mac Minis and Mac Pros (if they survive). This was a dry run – the merging of contextual keyboards and full screen workspace displays in applications is about to take over the macOS world. This is how iOS and MacOS are going to become more closely related. THAT will be the true “Hello Again” moment.

  11. archimedes

    “the feeling we all at TMO got during this presentation is that Apple just doesn’t see a future in powerful desktop Macs…
    This event didn’t seem calibrated to address a “Hello again” audience who, I think, expected a broad range of solutions from a brilliant hardware company.” 🙁

  12. d'monder

    Apple just doesn’t see a future in powerful desktop Macs.

    What does Apple use in-house for release-level development and graphic design?

    Apple, if you have a need for horsepower in-house, your customers do as well. 🙂

  13. 16gb of maximum RAM was a brutal disappointment; especially since Apple has stagnated on that spec for at least the last four years and these are supposed to be “pro” machines. It would stand to reason that if they’re (quite obviously) neglecting their pro desktops, they’d be beefing up their mobile computers to fill in the gap.

    Sorry Apple, I need a gee-whiz virtual toolbar far less than I need a pro machine that can multitask in several memory hungry apps and get things done. And we’re expected to cough up a minimum of $2200 for the maximum available RAM? No thanks. I’ll wait until a future round, when/if Apple decides to take their professional customers’ needs seriously.

  14. A Strip-Bar, the Air was left out to dry as was we Pro users. But hey, you guys were great at the Hangout – Zeppo was kind of understated but Hey, it was nice to see your ‘sausage’ I mean – see the sausage being made….

  15. Well, this was a disappointment for me, as well. So we got thinner. We knew that was coming. And a better display. That’s good! But with the 15, we get a middle of the road, discrete GPU, at a premium price. We get four Thunderbolt 3/USB ports. That means if I replace my current MacBook Pro I potentially need 3 new adaptors. One to use older USB devices, of which I own plenty, including an iPhone 7Plus (if want to be able to charge it.from the laptop); One to connect an HDMI connector (to use projectors at one of my client’s locations) and one to connect older projectors that don’t have HDMI (yes, they are still out there). And I guess I’ll have to buy a USB-C compatible card reader, too.

    That whole presentation just seemed …. off to me. It seemed awkward, and it seemed like everyone was trying to oversell . By the time they were on the third demo for the Touch Bar, including a DJ demo, and they had started by showing me Emoji, any enthusiasm I had was long gone. And then factor in the price increases (reminds of the 9.7 iPad “Pro”), and well, there you go. I’m not a Pro user (I mean, I’m a professional, and use my computers to make money, but I don’t tax them as much as some people), but even for me, this event was kind of a non-event. Add to that the complete silence on the rest of a Mac line that ranges from moderately outdated to extremely outdated and, well, there you go.

  16. Spot on comments John; thank you. I don’t envision professionals with demanding computing needs looking at a machine with maximum of 16 GB of RAM; even 32 GB is unacceptable and maybe 64 GB approaches minimum RAM. 128/256 GB workstations would be acceptable. Being able to connect a 5k monitor to a new MBP is great but for my own use the laptop screen would interfere with my work ( if connected to a external monitor ). Brian

  17. I had planned to order. I was ready to order. but I haven’t ordered. For what they are, they are just not worth the price. The specs, the limitations, the cost just aren’t adding up. the system that I had braced myself to get is significantly more expensive than I had, based on the old prices, expected. The system priced at a level I had expected to pay is not going to be up to the task of what I want to do with it. Most telling though, after 30 years of using a Mac, and only Macs, at home I’m thinking of other options. I can get a nice 15″ laptop with equal or better specs and put Linux on it for far less than the MacBook Pro I want would cost. It is a very viable and tempting idea.

    That says something very telling about the state of the Mac in 2016.

  18. Old UNIX Guy

    As others have noted, even Phil Schiller gave a very unusually poor presentation (for him) yesterday. He even forgot to say the one thing he *should* have said:

    “Can’t innovate – that’s RIGHT!”

  19. Chazaska

    As others have said, it seemed to me that the usual near cult-like fervor was missing from all the presenters, as if they clearly knew that they would not be meeting the expectations of the faithful.

  20. Apple said in an internal iPhone memo, “Consumers want what we don’t have”.

    Sadly, you can now apply this to the notebook line.

    Let’s hope that they don’t expand this line of thought to the iMac, Mac Mini and the poor old MacPro.

    These are sad times to be a power Mac user and that Surface Studio sure does look nice.

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