It’s been one year now with the 2016 MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar. What’s the verdict? Here’s some great analysis.
The Particle Debris article of the week is from Chuq Von Rospach. (Actually two articles, and the second is discussed here on page 2.)
This essay is particularly interesting to me because I haven’t seen a thoughtful analysis of the Touch Bar all year. That may be because it has more or less sunk into technical obscurity. As author Von Rospach says:
So what’s the future of the Touch Bar? I don’t know. I’m not sure Apple does, either. I was fascinated that when Apple released the iMacs earlier this year not one word was mentioned about the Touch Bar or TouchID and support for them via an updated keyboard or trackpad was nowhere to be found. I’m taking that as an indication that after the lackluster response to this with the laptop releases, they’ve gone back to the drawing board a bit before rolling it out further.
I think the reason for this inattention by Apple may be related to the dark years of the Mac: 2015-2016. That’s when Apple got distracted and stopped updating its Macs on a timely basis. But one technology seemed to be dwelled on, and that’s the Touch Bar. Because a lot of engineering effort was put into the Touch Bar (and its follow-on technologies) my guess is that some executives believed that the Mac was being properly attended to.
We know now, it wasn’t. And that colored the community’s thoughts, initially, on the Touch Bar.
Touch Bar Analysis
Author Von Rospach delves into a considered analysis of the Touch Bar, and you should read it in full. (It also generated a lot of reader feedback which resulted in his part II.) One key comment, which resonated with me was:
So having lived with the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor for months and then migrated away from them again, I’ve found they seem to be solving problems I don’t really have.
And therein lies the rub. Author Von Rospach talks about how he bought a new iMac 5K and described how, with increased use of that computer, he didn’t really miss the Touch Bar because there are equivalent technologies that are just as easy to use.
Another factor that stole the thunder from the Touch Bar during the dark years was the technically aggressive competition from Microsoft and HP. While Apple was focusing on the aesthetics of the user interface of the Mac, the competition was delivering faster systems with more memory for demanding technical professionals.
That’s why there was so much pushback when Apple tried, in vain, to position the mostly obsolete Intel Skylake-based 2016 MacBook Pro with a limit of 16 GB of RAM as the “professional” replacement for the (missing in action) updated Mac Pro.
Corrections were set in motion when Apple announced a new Mac Pro, and the icing was put on the Mac’s cake at WWDC 2017. Apple got the message: it’s okay to add UI refinements in addition to sheer power and professional capabilities. But not as a substitute.
Von Rospach’s closing remark hits the nail on the head.
Right now, my bet is on Apple having decided they fell in love with the Touch Bar and lost sight of the fact that Apple sells solutions to problems, not technologies. And here, they handed us this really neat technology, and it fell rather flat in the market.
But wait. There’s more. After some reader feedback, author Von Rospach had some additional thoughts and clarity on all this. That’s on page 2.
Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of August 28th. The Touch Bar’s future.