Soon, we think, there will be fall Apple event that launches new Macs. The nature of this event and the kinds of Macs that Apple updates and those that are left to quietly die will tell us a lot about where Apple is heading with technical professionals. Many of those former Apple customers have already switched to Linux. Those who remain are dismayed and are not very hopeful. Some readers weigh in.
It’s All About Messaging
I was in an Apple retail store recently and took this photo of Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro on display.
What we have here is a Mac that’s over three years old, never updated, connected to an obsolete and now cancelled Apple Thunderbolt display. For Apple, a company that’s all about messaging, what kind of message does this send?
Now, I am aware that Apple may well be on the verge of some very nice announcements regarding the Mac lineup in the next few weeks. But what I am wondering about is the nature of the announcement.
Will Apple simply refresh its MacBook Pro and iMac lineups, with no other apparent support for technical professionals? Will the Mac Pro be left to linger and quietly die like the Thunderbolt display that’s attached to it? What supporting initiatives in software will there be? What messages will be sent? Will we be invited to “stay-tuned” a bit longer?
Reader Comments Are Wake-up Calls
Technical professionals write me or describe their laments in the comments. Reader Rick Allen in California wrote TMO directly.
… I feel like the hardware I used to champion as the best is so far behind. I took a look at the days since my Macbook was launched and was appalled to see this:
The Mac Pro is even worse at over 1000 days. Also the tidings that Apple centric sites like yours are painting for new Macbook Pro are not comforting me. I don’t care about thinner and lighter, I just want power and flexibility. If the MacBook Pro goes the way some people are saying (thin and fewer ports) the deal will be sealed.
… my office purchased me a Surface Pro 4. I feel like a traitor, but it’s actually a great device for me. I used to carry my MacBook Pro and my iPad Pro and use both. Now I carry neither. Heretic, I am branded! I don’t have to have any intermediate steps between me and my work, no VM and no need to develop with a third party solution to talk to databases.
As technical professionals more and more recognize the benefits of the rich and diverse environment available on Linux notebooks, desktops and advanced workstations, Apple’s competitors are sensing opportunities in the professional hardware market. I described one of those initiatives recently here:
“Hewlett-Packard Seeks to Exploit Apple’s Inattention to Technical Professionals.”
Other signals over the years have caused former Apple professionals to rediscover the virtues of Linux and its rich and diverse development environment in Java and C++, two major languages in the enterprise. Meanwhile Apple, over the years. has gradually eliminated X11 and Java from macOS and emphasized the consumer merits of Swift. Swift, while very cool, and coming on strong, isn’t the pervasive language of the enterprise like Java and C++.
In response to that HP article linked above, a TMO reader comments:
These days, Apple makes computers for the masses:
Most of their users don’t care if the computer has an Ethernet port; most of them don’t care if there are more than two USB ports; most of them don’t care that the RAM is soldered on and the battery glued in; and most of them don’t care (or know) that their computer throttles when the CPU cores are pegged.
And that’s fine. Different users have different needs. What’s disappointing is that despite its vast financial resources, Apple no longer makes a professional computer for those of us who do care about these things.
Back to Mr. Allen. He concluded:
So I am torn. Part of me feels great sadness and shame that I am not using a Mac, and yet the other feeling I have is that “Apple has abandoned the professional world” for anything other than what they need for their ecosystem. Heck, even their once top of the line Logic music environment is now dated. Will they ever release any new version?
So has Apple abandoned professionals?
Given the delay in updating every Mac in the lineup except the MacBook, the tenor of Apple’s next event will have to be taken as the company’s definitive statement about where it stands, with both things said and unsaid, about its support for technical professionals.