We cannot be more than a few years away from what Apple co-founder Steve Jobs kinda mostly sorta predicted about the future when he introduced the original Mac in 1984. Computers should be sealed appliances.
That was not completely true then and it isn’t completely true now, but the vision is closer to reality than ever before. How so? Let’s take Apple as the example. My napkin calculation reveals 275-million of the 280-million iPhones, iPads, and Macs that Apple sells each year are sealed devices without the option to upgrade.
My math might be off a few million here and there, but the upgradeable products seem limited to the Mac, and since Mac notebooks are about 80-percent of all Macs sold, and they’re not easily upgraded to anything from RAM to storage to battery– that leaves Mac mini, Mac Pro, iMac, and those are not the bestsellers.
I bring up this inability to upgrade new products thanks to Stephen Hackett who managed to do just that– upgrade an old iMac to an SSD that replaced an aging hard disk drive. My husband and I have done exactly that same thing to squeeze an extra couple of years out of old iMacs and old and underpowered Mac mini models. Each required a special toolkit and a few YouTube videos because Apple does not make upgrading anything easy.
Except maybe applications on the App Store. Or, an old iPhone to a new iPhone.
Upgrading a Mac to anything is just about to become a footnote in Apple history. Gone are the days of user installable RAM in a Mac notebook. Or, the option to swap out an old hard disk drive for a new and faster SSD. Hey, today you can’t even swap out a battery.
At home we have a MacBook Pro and an iMac with a Retina 5K display. Other than RAM in the iMac, nothing else is upgradable unless heavy duty surgery is involved, and even though we’ve been banging around on Macs and PCs for a couple of dozen years– each– we won’t bother on either machine. We do have three external disk drives– of the hard disk drive variety– connected to each (two as clones, one as Time Machine), but I fear even that manual backup system is destined for history thanks to the ease of use in iCloud, Amazon S3, and other cloud services which make backups easier to manage.
Yes, the days of ripping open a Mac to see what’s wrong or to replace RAM, or HDD, or battery– are gone.
Or, are they?
Apple has promised a modular Mac Pro which should debut some time in the next year. How modular? Are we talking hardware component level? Or, modular the way Apple sees modular? Even the highly touted and lustworthy iMac Pro is not upgradeable without surgeon credentials.
As old Macs– those that once could be upgraded here and there with new components– begin to die off, the phrase “You can’t make an old Mac new again” becomes an axiom of truth. Those days are near and that might explain why the legendary cheese grater Mac Pro commands a healthy price tag for used models.