When an Apple Macintosh Isn’t a Macintosh Anymore

2019 iMac
2019 iMac. [Macintosh?] Image credit: Apple
At Tidbits, Adam Engst asks: “Are you a Macintosh user?” It turns out to be a loaded question because of “The One Remaining Use of the Word “Macintosh.” by Apple.

Some weeks ago, I was struck by the thought that Apple had almost entirely managed to scrub its corporate communications of the word “Macintosh.”

My search confirmed my initial hunch that there is only one official remaining use of the word “Macintosh” by today’s Apple: the default “Macintosh HD” name of the internal drive on a new Mac.

“Macintosh HD?” Not “Mac SSD”? Engst explores deftly.

I’ve been thinking about this situation for some time myself, specifically “why is Apple doing this?” I have no good answer.

The Week’s News Debris

• At PetaPixel, “It turns out that the “Night Mode” [on iPhone 11] doesn’t actually work with the iPhone’s telephoto lens, yet the phone goes out of its way to look like it does. Curious? I was. “iPhone 11 Pro’s Night Mode Isn’t What You Might Think.

• You may have heard about this before. Now, it’s coming for consumers. No choice. “Microsoft will begin replacing Microsoft Edge with its Chromium-based browser next week.” Here’s some background reading. More from TechRadar.

• CES was full of 8K TVs, but perhaps the most important consumer development in UHDTV is actually the emergence of HDMI 2.1. See this article for a good overview: “The Most Important TVs Of CES 2020 Were Finally For The Masses.

MarsCat robot.

Also abundant at CES 2020 were robots. Here’s a cute one. “Meet MarsCat, a robot cat with lots of love to give and room to grow.” There’s a demo video included.

MarsCat is currently up for crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with Elephant [Robotics] having already surpassed its goal of $20,000 and on track to raise at least $100,000 more than that target.

Elephant Robotics is already a successful commercial robotics company, so perhaps MarsCat has a better chance than, say, Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri did.

ATSC 3.0 has been eagerly awaited by TV techies. This standard supports a host of 4K technologies for over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting, and the newest UHDTVs will have ATSC 3 tuners. See: “ATSC 3.0 OTA Tuners Will Be Released in the US in The Next Few Days.” This took too long, but it’s finally coming. Implementations by many TV stations is planned for 2020.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

2 thoughts on “When an Apple Macintosh Isn’t a Macintosh Anymore

  • John:

    To Adam Engst’s paraphrasing of the Bard, “Wherefore art thou, Macintosh HD?”, permit me to rejoin with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ as the proposed title of his piece, and borrowing from Act III, Scene 5 of the same, summarise my impression of his argument, ‘Neighbours, you are tedious’.

    In fairness, in response to both his commentary and your question above, I actually do think that there is a method to Apple’s madness here, and that it has to do with the branding/redefinition of their product line. Indeed, it is even more about product line evolution than it is about simple rebranding or relabelling.

    At the outset, let me acknowledge that I might be wrong about everything that I’m about to argue, but that’s why this qualifies as an opinion.

    There has been much discussion in recent years about the inexplicably provocative term, ‘post PC era’, and a not insignificant amount of umbrage and indignation expressed in response to Apple’s erstwhile advert showing a kid using an iPad, and responding to a query with, ‘What’s a computer?’. These were not missteps by an able marketing team, but components of a generational tech cultural evolution campaign that, to varying degrees, is occurring industry-wide, but nowhere more deliberate than at Apple.

    The argument can be made, supported by observation, that Apple have harmonised their hardware and software products into an integrated ‘platform’, a term they now use, nestled within a vast and expanding ecosystem of products, services and initiatives, such as their manufacturing and recycling programmes, aimed not simply at making them one of the greenest companies on the planet, but to pioneer the way to a different corporate model.

    Within that platform are multiple options for productivity and play, communication and solitary recreation, creativity and quiet reflection, shared security and personal safety, all accessible my multiple devices, increasingly made ‘smart’ by a progressively more capable AI. The Macintosh was a stand alone computer, back in the day. The forgoing argues against confining this nomenclature to simply the hard drive and whether or not it spins, but rather an evolved integrated system, into which the venerable PC fits as a team player, and not the ultimate definition, or necessarily the primary device, of the user experience. Hence, we no longer have OS X, but macOS; which is ably assisted by iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and a growing galaxy of apps and services designed to work seamlessly together as a platform. This is organic growth. For example, we don’t refer to the individual cells in our body by function, like ‘some of your renal cells are not functioning well together’, but as entire organ systems or as the body entire, unless we require that greater specificity for a defined reason, like a diagnosis, eg ‘your kidneys are failing’.

    To carry this metaphor further, examine the product and service lines. Back when everything depended solely on the PC (Macintosh), in order to ensure the best user experience, every tech spec about that machine had to be best in class. Today, for most users outside of specialised use cases, in order to have the best in class user experience, two other features have primacy; integration and security. Whatever spec might be, in isolation, inferior to a competitor’s product on a comparable device, (eg the number of pixels on a smartphone camera) are more than offset by how Apple’s integrated software handles those pixels, creates the photo and then distributes that photo across devices, and those of permitted users, without specific intervention by the user. This is not unlike how our cells work. In isolation, in order to have a survival advantage, a cell requires multiple features and specs, including motility and defences, that a cell organised into an organ and complex body does not, because the organ and body compensates by other means, allowing that cell to specialise in a more capable and specific way. This is efficiency that benefits the whole system.

    While Apple have moved on, many a veteran client and customer have not, and continue to rue the passing of the old ways, whether in product or service, and appear to believe that an optimal user experience requires that every spec on any given device needs to be as good or better than a similar one on that of a competitor’s device; ignoring the respective platforms, if they even exist, en toto.

    Thus, the rebranding has meaning. Apple are not even pretending that they are building a ‘Macintosh’, ie a machine that, in isolation, is a complete solution for an optimal user experience. That day has passed, and is not coming back, even were Apple users to clamour that Apple ‘Make the Macintosh Great Again’.

    Finally, not only are Apple users not upgrading their devices at every iteration, whether Macs, iPhones, or iPads to name just three, but Apple and other tech giants are increasingly attempting to lure clients into a committed state on their respective platforms such that leaving that platform will be difficult if not impractical, and smart companies are providing a ‘how to’ guide for those who wish to migrate to theirs (aka ‘50 ways to leave your lover’).

    For most of us, the PC race is not only long dead, it is seldom even discussed. Welcome to the brave new era of AI-powered platforms.

    1. “ all accessible my multiple devices, increasingly made ‘smart’ by a progressively more capable AI”

      At present time, smart & capable AI & Apple don’t exactly belong in the same sentence.

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