Which one? And when? Ah, those are the real issues, but there is some inevitable logic to my premise so hear me out. Apple’s new MacBook, the thinner, lighter, Retina version, is a big seller. We’re expecting Apple to introduce an entirely new line of MacBook Pro models. If the world continues to move in a direction Apple thinks it may move, one of those may be the last Mac you will ever buy.
A Mac Is Not An iPhone
Every Apple product has a life cycle of sorts, that period of time whereby an average user upgrades to a new model (and whether they keep, sell, or hand-me-down the older model is not relevant). In general, the life cycle for an iPhone is less than a Mac. For me, I’ve averaged about five years for each Mac I own (though I don’t upgrade at the same time; new model purchases are staggered), so let’s go with that number. Five years.
That means if you’re in the market for a new MacBook Pro, one of Apple’s flagship notebooks with new models due to arrive soon, then it’s likely you won’t be in the market for a replacement for about five years. What will an iPad look like in five years?
The current MacBook Pro line hasn’t been updated in four years, having received a modest upgrade– CPU, ForceTouch, faster SSD– just over a year ago. What’s coming down the road in a few months should be a more massive upgrade; models that are thinner, lighter, faster, but also integrated Touch ID from the iPhone and iPad, a larger touchscreen-like trackpad, and USB-C ports among other notable changes.
How could this be the last Mac you will ever buy?
Think about the time frame. How far will Apple advance the iPad within another five years? Thinner, lighter, faster, more powerful, yes, but also more capable. Remember, iOS for iPad is barely five years old now, so it’s likely iPad users will have more powerful and near desktop-like applications in a few years. Apple’s progress at developing the A-series CPU for iPhone and iPad has grown leaps and bounds faster than Intel’s progress on the M and iCore CPUs that populate most personal computers, especially in graphics capability.
Already an iPad Pro is being featured and promoted as a Windows PC notebook replacement, and for many users has more than enough traditional horsepower, as well as a larger library of applications.
One caveat here is this. We are seeing a disruption in how computing devices are being used. iPads, despite a number of quarters where sales have dropped, outsell the Mac, yet, at the other end of the scale, the Mac remains the ultimate personal computer because it runs OS X, Windows, and various flavors of Linux and Unix; all at the same time and not something most iPad users would consider valuable.
Years ago I needed a hefty cheese grater Mac Pro and a couple of displays to do some of my professional level work with FinalCut Pro and Photoshop. These days, everything that could be done then can be done now on a smaller and far less expensive quad-core iMac. And, some of what I do on the iMac can already be done on an iPad Pro, including 4k video editing, and graphic design and photo enhancements. We don’t think about it much, but many of the advancements in Apple’s popular tablets are remarkable considering the age of the product line and the price tag of even high end models.
Yes, I’ll be happy to fork over some hard earned dollars for a new MacBook Pro, but if Apple keeps up progress on the A-series CPUs and screen resolutions continue to advance, it might be the very last Mac I’ll ever buy.