Apple has a Mac problem, and it's their own fault

The tech giant is paying less and less attention to its anchor lineup of computers

Apple has a Mac problem, and it's their own fault

Picture by Marcio Jose Sanchez AP/Press Association Images

It’s hard to imagine an Apple without the Mac today, in fact it wouldn’t exist at all. The Macintosh was Apple’s bread and butter for so long, until the iPhone came along and turned computing on its head. Now it looks like the Mac line is slowly losing steam within Apple.

Reports are circulating that Apple has diverted attention away from the Mac development team, who have gone through major personnel changes over the last few months and who are finding it hard to contact and work with the software team and with Jony Ive’s heavyweight design team.

If you notice there, I said "software team". There isn't even a designated team within Apple just working on Mac software, it's one team doing all Apple software.

It’s feeling like a slow death at this stage. The MacBook Pro, the signature Mac device Apple offers, went for 500 days without an update, and when it finally came in the form of the TouchBar, a lot of people were underwhelmed. That included the MacBook’s core audience of professionals who need more power from this supposedly professional notebook.

Apple have been in a weird place with their Mac line over the last few years, and most of it is their own fault. They have sacrificed power and usability for design and form, and that’s not just the case with the Mac line, it’s across the board with Apple devices.

A port problem

Take a look at the latest MacBook Pro, with or without the TouchBar. The only ports included on it are USB Type C ports, which are far from being standard right now. For a “professional” computer, used by photographers who need an SD card port and artists you need HDMI monitors, that just doesn’t cut it.

MacBook Pro with TouchBar

It was also trimmed down to be even thinner, which makes no sense. At all. Don’t even defend it. It’s a professional computer, let it be thick, heavy, and have a huge battery. If you want thin, get a regular MacBook or an iPad.

That’s an unnecessary move they did with their desktop iMac too, slicing it up for little reason. Before giving it an impressive 5K screen, the last big update saw it be thinned down into a wedge shape with sharp edges. If that’s attractive to you, that’s fine, there you go. But to most users, it’s something that won’t even be seen as the iMac is pushed up against a wall on a desk and left there.

Mac Pro

There are other reasons for Mac updates to be so delayed, including Intel not offering up the latest chips soon enough. That’s a fair point, but take the Mac Pro desktop computer. The “trashcan” hasn’t been updated since it came out in December 2013. Three years without a major update for a top-of-the-line computer is nonsense, and dangerous for the company.

Core audience

Apple have a core group of diehard fans who hang on every word the company says and every word the company releases. They live and die by Apple, yet there’s a growing rumble from them that they’re growing disenfranchised with the fruit-logo’d company. They’re worried they’re being left behind for the iOS devices, and now it sounds like their worst fears are being realised.

If Apple wants to let the Mac die, so be it. But this near-comatose state it’s in is a worse fate than just being culled altogether. There’s other companies now making notebooks and desktops to an Apple standard, most notably Microsoft. Apple was streets ahead of the competition just a mere few years ago, but now they’ve caught up and even overtaken Apple in some cases. The problem Apple has now is trying to figure out if it just doesn’t know how to catch up, or if it even cares.

Apple should care about the Mac though. It’s the only device that lets you develop and make iOS apps, and is a major anchor in Apple’s ensnaring ecosystem of devices and services. Should the Mac continue to flail about, it’ll cause a huge black hole in the daily work of an awful lot of people who make an awful lot of money for Apple by way of apps.

I’ve written this article on a MacBook Pro, an older model with a full compliment of ports. It’s great, I love it dearly, but the way the platform is going, I suspect it may be the last MacBook I buy until Apple get their act together.

Make a proper Mac again, Apple, you can do it. Throw the 13 billion you could’ve given Ireland to the Mac team, let them make Macs again. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.