Apple recently announced their new MacBook Pro models — a long-awaited update to any of their Macintosh portable lineup. Since that announcement, I’ve found myself redoubling my efforts to find a laptop that fits my needs for the next four to six years, and I’m not spending them looking at the MacBook Pro. I’m probably going to need a new laptop soon, and what I need and what Apple thinks I need may have irrevocably diverged.
Admittedly, I base my assessment mostly on ignorance. I haven’t tested a MacBook Pro much less laid eyes on one, but rather than faithfully cast my lot with Apple’s offerings, I feel I have little choice but to finally consider alternatives.
As a faithful Mac user since 1988, this development comes with a number of emotional pitfalls for me. I have used Windows machines, and they’ve only reaffirmed my enthusiasm for the Mac platform. I still prefer the Mac OS, but the hardware leaves me cold. As a designer myself, even I have begun to think you’re taking this fetish for minimalism too far.
Apple, I know you don’t care, but I don’t want thinner and lighter and more and more streamlined, not if it sacrifices capability, and not for devices that I use for work. I don’t want an array of dongles, and the need to buy still more different types of cables. If the market and I decided that USB-C is the way to go, then I’ll go out and buy USB-C devices when my older devices outlive their usefulness. I have heavily invested in USB-2 and 3 devices, and I’d prefer not to make them immediately obsolete the moment I un-box my MacBook Pro.
Apple, I’ve gone along with with all of your adoption of future-looking technology. I shrugged when you dropped the floppy drive. I embraced the demise of SCSI because I saw FireWire as a huge advancement. I celebrated the jump from OS9 to the UNIX-based OS10. And I stuck with you through three processor transitions, and I’m girding myself for your jump to ARM.
Apple, I want to see a true “pro” computer. I want a machine that makes me feel confident about its current technology, but its future value to me as well. Sorry, but even if I don’t ever upgrade the drive, or memory, or processor, I want to know that I can. Much like someone who buys a four-wheel-drive SUV and who will never let those tires touch anything but smooth asphalt, I want the confidence that comes with knowing I have that option. I consider this a form of insurance.
Locking down my device makes me uneasy, especially as a professional user. If you want to market simple computing appliances to everyday consumers, I applaud that. I know plenty of people who don’t care about upgrades.
But professional users want ports. We want cases that open. And we want power. We don’t want to be stuck somewhere realizing that we forgot to pack that $40 dongle you required us to buy to make our projector work.
Me, personally, I want a Mac Mini with the power of a 5K iMac or more, but I want the ability to configure it to my needs today and again three years from now. I want a laptop that has ports for all the devices I’m currently using until you show me that the newer devices will prove their worth.
Unfortunately, I know that you won’t build that machine, so I’m looking around. I’m considering Linux, and dare I say it, Windows as well. The laptop I think I need does not require me to load heavy-duty applications on it. I want it mainly to write and to edit text in the websites I build, and for that, I don’t need thinner, lighter, and more beautiful, but I do need it to work with the array of peripherals I’ve already invested in.
And one more thing. I bought the iPhone 7, and when asked my opinion, I say the same thing to everyone: I love everything about it except the lack of a headphone jack. While I see the advantages of wireless headphones, I frankly do not want yet another device I have to plug in and charge in order for it to work.
The lack of the headphone jack has presented me with a nagging inconvenience. I sit at my desk over the course of the day, and I prefer to keep the phone plugged in to keep it charged. This means that I cannot listen to music or make phone calls using my earbuds — at least not until I spend another $20 to $140 for Bluetooth earbuds. Sorry, Apple, but if you needed courage to piss off your long-time customers, you have some serious blind spots in your marketing.
I had long-ago given up second-guessing you, Apple. After I predicted that the iPod would flop, I stopped making predictions. I do predict that you’ll continue to make boatloads of money for whatever you sell, but I do believe it’s a mistake to call these new machines “Pro” and leave so little in them for pros to want. Many of us, even me, will probably just go along yet again, but I do see a gaping maw of an opportunity for someone else to take my money.
It’s been a beautiful relationship, Apple, but you’re finally starting to get on my nerves.