There are times when we have a convergence of events that lead to a moment of enlightenment. This weekend I was looking for an online host to store files and came across a service that specializes in Macs– specifically the Mac mini and Mac Pro models; you remember those Apple orphans, right?
Then, moments later, I read an article which quoted Apple’s chief design honcho Jonny Ive saying they listen to Mac users. Listen, yes? But does anyone at Apple actually pay attention? Or, are they too busy counting record Mac sales and profits to realize some of the building is on fire?
‘Here Here!’ This!
Parents know the basics of parenting and recognize that listening, understanding, and acting accordingly are three different things; interrelated, yes, but not always. Mac users have been up in arms for a few years over Apple’s seemingly public lack of enthusiasm for the Mac line, especially vs. iPhone, iPad, and even Watch which seem to get more frequent updates and engineering love vs. the once flagship Mac line.
When asked if Apple was listening to Mac user complaints, Ive responded:
Absolutely, all of your feelings and feedback around the MacBook you use, we couldn’t want to listen to more. And we hear — boy, do we hear.
I take that to mean Apple’s executives have been getting an earful the past few years. They hear, but do they listen? After all, do executives have an incentive to listen to a small but vocal minority in the customer base since Mac sales remain at record levels. Some of the noise revolves around the Mac notebook line, but others are affected, too, including the end-of-life Mac Pro.
What’s wrong? According to Mac users who pay attention, plenty.
- They MacBook keyboard is flimsy, not easy to use, breaks often, costs too much to repair– overall a poor design for a company that prides itself on design
- The MacBook Touch Bar is a gimmick; laughed at by professionals, seldom used by anyone else (I prefer it over the old Function key array)
- The MacBook line has limited ports; from a single USB-C on the MacBook; each device needs at least four ports; pro devices even more.
- MacBooks are underpowered compared to premium Windows PCs; low RAM, older CPUs.
- The simple but much-loved MagSafe was abandoned in favor of USB-C connector.
- Upgradeability is gone from Mac notebooks; not RAM, not SSD, not battery.
To be fair, the average Mac user does not care about such issues as much as the so-called professional group; one which is an important driver for the Mac, but one which has been ignored in recent years. The Mac mini still runs a 4th generation CPU while Intel ships 8th generation chips. The Mac Pro has received only one upgrade since it was introduced over four years ago, and that came on the heels of the announced end-of-life.
It has become apparent to me that Apple’s focus on the Mac line is not really focus at all– more of an afterthought– and pronouncements that executives hear Mac customers seems more like lip service; empty talk. And who can blame executives for thinking they’re doing everything right. Mac sales are at record levels while traditional Windows-based PCs are on a steady downward spiral.
Plus, review after review of the new Macs are overwhelmingly positive. Adam Shepherd:
Phenomenal keyboard; Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro to date; Truly staggering disk speeds…
Major price hike; Features Thunderbolt 3 ports only; Touch Bar only available on most expensive model
If you can stomach the eye-watering price and you don’t mind going without the traditional complement of ports, the new MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops money can buy. Speed, power and razor-sharp design sensibilities make it an absolute delight to use.
Anybody see a problem here?
Some Mac customers love some Macs. Some Mac customers hate some Macs. But these days many Windows PC notebooks look and behave and perform like Mac notebooks; often with better hardware specifications at a similar or lower price tag. Yes, with macOS High Sierra and Windows we’re not comparing Apple to apples, but you get the idea. Apple charges customers a premium, but we don’t always get a premium product.
Look at the Mac mini. The last upgrade was a downgrade and a 4th generation Intel Inside CPU tells me Apple just doesn’t care about certain models despite Apple CEO Tim Cook telling us the Mac mini is an “important part” of future products. Really? How?
Apple customers pay a premium for premium products. For the most part, that’s what we get. iPad Pro? The best. iPhone X? The best. Watch? The best. Mac? Uh, no. If Apple really listened to Mac customers then we wouldn’t have a four-year-old Mac Pro, or an anemic Mac mini, or a Mac notebook line led by a $999 relic from years ago, or a promise of a new Mac Pro perhaps in 2019.