Back in 1997, just before Steve Jobs’ second coming took the reigns of Apple’s future to infinity and beyond, Wired Magazine said we should ‘Pray’ and offered 101 ways Apple could save itself from certain death. Whether it was prayer or Steve Jobs that saved Apple back then, it is certain that we’ve reached peak Mac today.
Hello, High Sierra
We can tell we’ve reached Peak Mac™ (just in case someone else wants to use it again) because members of the so-called geekerati have told us so. Ewan Spence:
Tim Cook Delivers Disappointing MacOS (sic) High Sierra Updates For New MacBook Pro
So much is wrong with the headline I don’t know where to start, but it’s a tough job and someone has to do it. Tim Cook isn’t delivering anything. He’s the company CEO. Various and sundry Apple engineers and executives (also engineers) are working hard on macOS High Sierra and plan to deliver it to tens of millions of Mac users later this summer, perhaps early fall.
The core of the High Sierra update focuses on providing compatibility to the latest hardware. This includes accommodations for new storage options, video output and graphics chip support. Apple’s new filing system (APFS, the inventively acronymed Apple File System) is also included, as is increased support for VR and external GPU cards.
Disappointing? Lack of a color option in the Finder’s sidebar is disappointing. Lack of a 32GB option in the MacBook Pro is disappointing. Disappointment reigns supreme in the technology world, but we get over it and use whatever comes our way.
Although the MacBook family offers an economy of scale, Apple still has to work within the physical constraints of what the market can deliver. Ensuring that the MacBook can support modern chipsets ensures long-term stability, but there’s nothing here to suggest that Apple is working on any radical hardware changes for the next eighteen months, just the slow integration of existing services that are present on iOS but missing in MacOS.
There it is. Peak Mac.
No “radical hardware changes” is a euphemism for peak Mac. There is nothing new under the sun. No touchscreen Mac. The Mac is almost dead. Long live the Mac.
Apple’s radical hardware changes are focused on the iPhone and iPad. The updates to MacOS reinforce the iOS supporting role that the desktop machines are being pushed into. All the goodies are going to mobile, while the desktop environment is moving to backing up and offering secondary functionality to mobile devices
Well, at some point in the not too distance past I might have agreed with Spence’s synopsis here, partly because the trash can Mac Pro didn’t get updated for almost four years, the iMac Pro won’t be seen until the end of this year or early next year, and the long awaited successor to Mac Pro, the modular Mac Pro won’t show up until next year, but it does seem as if Apple cares about the Mac. The new iMac is awesome. Mac mini? Not so much.
MacOS is being tied tightly to Apple’s cloud services, which in turn are being tied closely to mobile devices. MacOS is no longer the star quarterback or the MVP wide receiver. It’s the old warhorse that quietly sits in the corner helping out the new blood to go out, get noticed and change the world.
Fair enough. That sounds like peak Mac, but also might explain why traditional personal computer sales have dropped steadily for about three years (except for the Mac). After all, this is the post-PC era, mobile devices rule planet earth, and absolutely nobody at Apple or members of the technorati elite politburo expect the Mac to make a comeback that challenges the iPhone, amirite?
So, what’s next?
The MacBook family isn’t going away in a hurry, but neither is it going to march forwards with new ideas and technology of its own. It’s all about the supporting role. Arguably, if you want any innovation in the laptop, desk bound, or desktop market, then you need to be looking at Windows 10 and how Microsoft’s Surface hardware is leading the charge on form factors, software, and innovation.
Do you know how hard it is to clean coffee from a keyboard and screen? That’s why iPads will rule. They’re impervious to spittle, sneezes, and the coffee that now drenches my Mac’s screen and keyboard.
What Microsoft has going for it that differentiates it from the Mac and other Windows-based PCs is, 1) touchscreen, and 2) I promise to think of something and get back to you. Innovation in the laptop or desktop market? Puhleeze. Sales of Microsoft’s anemic and expensive Surface products have been going down for a year. Why? Windows. People are leaving Windows whenever and wherever they can. There is no innovation there. Touchscreen? It’s the feature Windows notebook-tablet-hybrid users seldom use.
Kudos to Microsoft for doubling down on Windows as a last gasp effort to reclaim the glory years of yesterday; a strategy that seems worthy on the surface (pun intended) but seems sad because the entire mobile device revolution– led by Apple’s iPhone and iPad– marched right by Microsoft and trampled Windows, Surface, Nokia, and whatever else the company wasted money on while searching for diversity.
Yeah, we may be reaching peak Mac, but the Mac isn’t going away. It’s just a truck now and we still need trucks.