Truly disappointing: Getting Apple’s strategy wrong


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Writing for The Next Web, Abhimanyu Ghoshal details “All the disappointments from Apple’s MacBook Pro event.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Jordi Bruin.)

All of them? Are you sure we have that much time?

…it was just the previous day that Microsoft stunned the tech industry with its innovative Surface Studio, which represents the company’s forward-thinking approach to computing.

The Surface Studio is pretty neat. But part of what makes it so neat is that Microsoft has never made a desktop computer before. If Microsoft already had a desktop computer and added a hinge and a knob to it, it would be a nice update, maybe better than the Touch Bar, but it wouldn’t be as “stunning”.

In comparison, Apple’s keynote seemed weak and uninspired.

It was not Apple’s best. To find one as skimpy on thrilling announcements, you’d have to go back to Phil Schiller’s Macworld Expo keynote in 2009 which also did not feature an update to the Mac mini. At least that one had Tony Bennett.

Here’s what it got wrong:

Touch Bar

It’s not that the Touch Bar is a bad feature in itself…

It’s just wrong.

Ghoshal is right about there being real questions about how the Touch Bar will be useful and gain traction if it can only be used on an open laptop and not one docked or on a desktop Mac.

Assuming Apple still makes desktop Macs.

But Apple firmly believes that touch screens do not belong on Macs and whether you agree with them or you agree with Microsoft, at least you have two competing visions of how this should work to choose from.

It’s also not exactly new. Razer debuted a similar concept called Switchblade in its Blade gaming laptop back in 2012. That doesn’t knock off points from the utility the Touch Bar can offer, but it proves that Apple isn’t thinking as far ahead into the future as it once used to.

No. This is exactly what Apple does literally all the time. There were touch screen phones before the iPhone. There were phones you could unlock with a fingerprint before Touch ID. Heck, there were computers with mice and graphical user interfaces before the Mac. Apple takes those ideas, makes them more usable and then popularizes them.

This is the thing people don’t understand about the Macalope. He isn’t against criticism of Apple. He just can’t stand it when people get things exactly backward. Showing that someone else had a feature before Apple isn’t a valid criticism of them when that’s the company’s business strategy.

Yes, as Ghoshal complains, these computers are expensive and Apple charges a ridiculous amount of money to upgrade components. On the other hand, the new MacBook Pros may be the fastest stock laptops available. And, according to Phil Schiller, all these complaints haven’t stopped it from being off to a good start in orders.

The USB-C-equipped MacBook Pros can’t connect to your new iPhone 7 unless you buy a $20 adaptor or a new cable.

It’s weird how the Macalope has heard for years that only the olds connect iPhones to computers with wires like some kind of laughably anachronistic characterizations and then when Apple makes that harder suddenly everyone needs to plug in.

There isn’t really a good reason for this.

Actually, there is: We’re in a transition period to USB-C.

There. That was easy.

The death of the $1,000 Mac

With the launch of the new lighter and thinner MacBook Pro, Apple is killing off its more affordable MacBook Air. The 11-inch model has been retired completely. While the 13-inch model remains, it’s unlikely to see another refresh.

You know, maybe it’s just the Macalope, but if you can still buy a MacBook for $1,000 during this period while the new MacBook slides down the price curve to replace the Air, that is in no way “The death of the $1,000 Mac” (to say nothing of the Mac mini which, while it hasn’t been updated for far too long, it still priced well below $1,000).

Ghoshal calls terminating the Air an “incredibly unpopular” move. That claim is unsubstantiated but, even if it’s true, killing its darlings is what Apple does. If you’re just noticing that now and are upset about it then… sorry? No. That’s not it. Maybe the Macalope has run out of things to say when you’re mad about Apple being Apple.

There are certainly questions and problems raised by Apple’s announcements (or lack thereof) last week and there’s plenty of room for disagreement. But suddenly noticing in the fourth quarter that you’re playing football and not squash isn’t a very reasonable reaction.

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