The pendulum swings.

You know how in life the pendulum swings back and forth? Thesis leads to antithesis, resulting in eventual synthesis, and so on?

Well, right now Apple is swinging backward.


Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you wanted a tech company to fail. A recipe for failure for a company like Apple would have components like:

  • Let’s kill professional/prosumer apps like Aperture, Final Cut Pro, and so on.
  • Let’s kill the only web design app that’s any good: iWeb.
  • Ignore the iMac; make everything iOS. Pretend you can have one platform everywhere (my Apple TV auto-installs apps I buy on my iPhone, for instance).
  • Make the User Interface so complicated that people like me have to Google simple actions like “how do I watch Apple special events on my Apple TV”.
  • Make WatchOS 3 “the best running experience”. Fine, but I am not a runner.
  • Hang everything on Siri, which probably works fine – as long as your accent is average. If you’re me, it sucks.
  • Make it unreliable. Both my Apple TVs, Gen 3 and Gen 4, crash when I watch the Apple Special Event. The Gen 3 crashes after ten seconds; the Gen 4 after half an hour.
  • Let’s lag behind. We now get Touch ID, meaning using your fingerprint to unlock the Macbook Pro. Cool new feature! Only, um, I had this in 1999 on my IBM Thinkpad. That’s 17 years ago.
  • And worst of all: let’s remove connectors. I use power, USB, HDMI, connect displays… When teaching, for example, I always connect a laser pointer, my iPhone, and a VGA display. I need more USB ports, not fewer! But no: let’s kill all those connectors so that I have to carry a plethora of dongles.
  • Oh and the SD card, let’s kill the SD card slot!

But there’s no way Apple would do those things, right? Right?

Except they did.

Innovation is not removing useful ports and forcing people to buy dongles. I noticed that in today’s Apple Special Event, the audience looked subdued, bored and un-impressed. Oh wait. Someone smiled – after 35 minutes, finally.

Mr Cook is no Steve Jobs, unfortunately.

EDIT: added next day:

I see that they have also removed the best feature of the Apple laptops: the MagSafe power connector. That magnetic connector, that lets go when you trip over the cable (instead of dragging the computer to the floor), has saved my laptop probably a dozen times. Without it, my computers will not last more than six months. Remove MagSafe? Now I know Apple has lost it.


7 thoughts on “The pendulum swings.

  1. Totally agree with your comments here. I have been a Mac fan for the past 11 years, but they to have lost their way a bit on conventional computers. As you say people need more ports. I can understand in an entry level… but for a PRO?

    I have to say I really like where Microsoft is taking their surface line, first with the surface tablet, then the surface book and now the studio. All 3 are miles ahead of Apple’s innovation.

  2. Well, we only ever seem to talk about the technical limitations, but let’s also not forget about the health implications. When everything that connects to your computer must do so through a dongle, the microwave radiation exposure from the WiFi goes through the roof. It’s bad enough how we’re getting (literally) cooked all day long by cell phone towers, DECT phones, WiFi routers, and, generally, WiFi addicts, but now a computer manufacturer is forcing even more of this on Apple users? No thank you. I’ll stick with my PC! This is the unfolding of Technocracy right before your eyes.

  3. What!? They are getting rid of the MagSafe power connector?!? That’s one of the reasons why I switched over to a mac – I had so many problems with my previous PC laptop with the electrical connection. That is one of the best features that macs have.

    It’s unfortunate – at one point, Macs were THE tool of the creative professional. Now it seems that they have abandoned that audience in favour of selling mediocre to the masses. Sure, that’s where the money is, but Apple is quickly turning into just another electronics manufacturer

  4. A couple of important points not mentioned :

    – These updates come with a significant cost increases (and on top of that, another adjustment for exchange rates in Canada and the UK)
    – The hardware is okay, not fantastic. Storage sizes and graphics chips are somewhat lacking, and not allowing memory beyond 16 GB can be painful on a Pro machine that should last several years.

    As for dongles, this behaviour is common for Apple. We tend to get very angry about removing ports, and then get used to it. And soon after it’s the rule, not the exception. Painful in the short term, but time will ease this, and there’s something to be said for the simplicity of 4 identical and completely interchangeable ports for power, USB, display, etc. Awkward now, but will become more sensible once every peripheral has moved to USB-C.

    Audience for these computers aren’t governed by price, specs, or features alone, but the intersection of the three.

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