There are certain Macintosh products that are carry overs from the past, and there are top selling Macs that suggest the future of Apple. While some suggest that the gradual transformation of the product line means the end of the Mac, I think it means a glorious new beginning.
“A role for the Macintosh as far as our eye can see.”
That’s a quote from Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Mac in 2014.
Wherever I think about what Apple may be up to next, I think about Apple’s history. This is a company that thinks boldly and always has in store for us something that we need—but didn’t deeply realize that we needed. And so, when I look at the demise of certain of product lines, my mind tends to think about what could be next instead of what we’re about to lose.
Related to that, I saw an intriguing article this week by Kate Mackenzie. I generally like her stuff because she’s a bold, thoughtful writer. This article by her caught my attention. “Say Goodbye To These Macs.” Here are the Macs that are likely on the chopping block.
- MacBook Air
- Mac mini
- Mac Pro
While you may or may not agree with her logic, the article does serve to foster thoughts about what we need next. Where, exactly, is the Macintosh product line going? Apple certainly isn’t giving up on the Mac, as I argued here: “Apple’s Change From OS X to macOS Hardly ‘Muddies the Waters’.”
In turn, that makes me think that it’s certainly time to examine the product line with an eye to the future, not the past.
The MacBook Air, as it is now, is a Mac whose time has come and gone. We’ve seen the future of Apple’s notebook line, and it’s foreshadowed by the 2015 MacBook. We’ll see all those technologies in the new MacBook Pros soon. Yet, Apple has a competitive problem in the education market in the form of Chromebooks, and iPads are not the complete solution. Nor are expensive MacBooks. Less expensive MacBook Airs, perhaps renamed, with conventional ports designed for education might be the answer.
Mac mini. I agree with author Mackenzie on this. Apple’s heart and soul are just not in the Mac mini. It was a good idea when Apple was trying to lure Switchers to the Mac, those who already had a keyboard and mouse. But now the PC wars are over and mobility rules. While a niche market has formed using Mac minis as servers, I don’t think it’s enough of a market to sustain Apple’s creativity and energies. I color it gone also.
Mac Pro. We certainly need big iron, 5K Macs for everything we do on the desktop. There doesn’t seem to be any special need for a Mac that’s headless, like the Mac Pro, because Apple is into integrated systems whose components are well matched.
That is, unless Apple still wants to garner favor with the pro market. In that case, I envision a next generation Mac Pro that’s more easily expandable and has the latest Xeons and Thunderbolt 3 as well. What I don’ think we’ll see is a modest update with the same case design. I’m thinking something more radical, more mouth watering. More expandable. A halo Mac to, once again, die for.
In summary, I think Apple will respond to the market realities, but not by backing out. Desktop iMacs with fabulous displays sell fairly well. Sleek MacBooks and MacBooks Pros sell even better and are the favored computers for professionals, college students, scientists, developers on the move, and you name it. That said, I don’t see the Macintosh product line circling its wagons into a just a handful of products. As technology advances, it will enable new instantiations of the Mac to meet future needs.
It’s just that, for now, some products need to be retired while we wait for new ones to blossom.
Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of July 4th. What if Apple had stayed with supercomputer tech?